Holdenby House Visit!
Did you know that the Victorians used to crush up egg shells to use as an abrasive to clean their pots, pans and crockery? This is just one of the many interesting pieces of information that Class 3 learnt on their recent Victorian themed visit to Holdenby House. The children were divided into groups to gain an authentic experience into the life of a servant applying for employment. Behaviour was the first thing that we needed to get right - no talking, must stand in a straight line and certainly no hands in pockets!
Firstly, we headed into the kitchen where Mrs Crumpet soon put us to work! We had to clean the range and the ice cabinet followed by polishing the cutlery. Next, came the chopping and pickling of onions and the chopping of vegetables for dinner plus the crushing of egg shells to help with the washing up. At the opposite end of the kitchen we were able to put to use some of the items we had learned about in class when we had to do the washing … by hand! The laundry was placed in a large bucket with soapy water and then ‘possed’ 200 times, which certainly made our arms ache. Then, it was fed through a mangle to ring out the water before being hung on a clothes horse to dry. Once dry, we ironed and neatly folded the clothes learning about how the irons used to be heated on the fire as electricity was a new technology and people didn’t really understand it or trust it yet.
After hungrily eating our lunch, we then headed on to our next tasks. The girls went to the Lady of the house’s bedroom where they were to dust, tidy, make the bed and empty the chamber pot! The boys went to the workroom where they polished leather boots, a riding saddle and the silverware until it sparkled.
The final treat of the day was when we got to entertain the Lady of the house with the well-known nursery rhyme Pop Goes the Weasel. The children sang beautifully and the Lady was very impressed, however, when she requested that the adults sang the same nursery rhyme she was far from impressed!
We were extremely lucky to have a small tour through some of the rooms in Holdenby House and were impressed with the row of bells that used to be linked to rooms throughout the house. This was the way the servants were summoned by the people living in the house and we learned how the bell boy was in charge of responding to the bell and dispatching the correct servant to the correct room.
We left with a surprise gift as the bread that we had made in the morning under Mrs Crumpet’s strict instruction had been baked and given to us to enjoy, it was delicious!