Upstairs and Downstairs

 As part of their Victorian topic work, Bourne Abbey’s Year 5 made an exciting and informative visit to Burghley House in order to experience the ‘secret army’ life of a Victorian servant.  To make the day more authentic and to create a sense of the period, all the children and staff dressed in Victorian clothes.

We discovered that maintaining a property of this standard required a huge workforce of staff, working from dawn to dusk and beyond. The vast paintings and exquisite furniture made an impression on the children when they compared them to household items in our homes today.  The children were able to see the grandeur and opulence of the upper classes, which included the room where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert slept during their visit to Burghley in 1844!

We were amazed at the size of the kitchen and how many staff, from the scullery maid to the butler, were needed to keep the Lord and Lady’s house running smoothly.  The children were also able to try their hand at some of the endless daily tasks undertaken by the servants such as folding sheets, laying a perfect table, polishing boots and making butter.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their day and now fully appreciate the hard working life of a servant in a large Victorian household.

The following day at school the children were ‘treated’ to a day in the life of a Victorian pupil.  The school was originally called Star Lane School and the building was constructed during the later Victorian period in 1877, you can still see separate entrances for the Girls and Boys above the doors at the front.

The children practiced writing on slates and were very serious throughout the day with such strict Victorian teachers. They were able to study the original school registers of the period and looked up names and streets of Bourne in a transcribed copy.  They also examined the 1871 census of Bourne and were able to view the type of occupations their great, great, grandparents may have had, such as blacksmith and laundry maid.  During a Victorian playtime the children played traditional games which included a seasonal game of conkers!