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KS 1 Tudor KS 1 Victorian KS 2 Tudor KS 2 Victorian KS 2 17th C KS 2 + 3 Medieval 6th Form, also Gifted and Talented Storytelling British Traditions Adults Museums and Heritage Sites

Schools, Museums, Heritage Sites: More Details

Please note that while there are many pictures of children taken during my workshops on this page, I don't have images available for all the sessions I work - pictures of children on websites can be a sensitive issue.
The pictures you do see are were all offered to me for use sometime during the last 15 years and may be from anywhere in the country: I have worked regularly with children between Carlisle and Dover, (annual events for schools in Carlisle Castle and Dover museum, and many many places in the middle!)
Some are quite new, some of these children will be adults by now!

but first...

The Creative Curriculum

starburst My work has always been cross-curricular!
The Creative Curriculum is now a reality, (until next time somebody moves the goalposts again!)
and is working out in different ways across the country.

starburst Many schools retain topics they have already built expertise in, while adding new cross-curricular links;
some others are totally re-writing what they do.

Since 1993 I've been combining music, history, dance, dama, language, and more in my sessions, so I will continue to offer the workshops I have already developed.

I am also happy to discuss any particular direction you may wish to emphasise,
and I am quite willing to discuss any special session you may be interested in, such as:
  • Science in sound and musical instruments
  • Maths patterns in simple traditional or historical dances
  • Language in history
  • Effects of different cultures on instruments we use in Britain

Key Stage 1: Tudor History School & Museum groups

A flexible range of activities allows different group sizes and session timings.
The list includes:-
  • Meet and hear superb instruments of the Tudors, including huge Flemish-style bagpipes, a harp or two, pipe and tabor, a hurdy gurdy, and more;
  • Dance a simple but genuine Tudor period dance;
  • Some children (depending on group size and timing) may play some of my instruments, accompanying a tune of the time.
  • Sing a Tudor song
  • Learn something of what it was like being a child in the 1500's, and how your life-style depended a lot on how rich or poor you were.

Hurdy Gurdy

Key Stage 1 Victorian History school and museum sessions

As with Tudor sessions, a flexible range of activities may include any or all of the following, depending on group size and timing.
  • Meet various Victorian instruments, including a hammer dulcimer, concertina, accordeon, northumbrian smallpipes, pipe and tabor...more if there's time;
  • 2 or 3 children discover, and thus show everyone, how the dulcimer works;
  • Sing realy Victorian children's songs;
  • See how many servants a rich Victorian gentleman or lady might need;
  • Meet, and maybe work with,one or more Victorian-style dancing puppets;
  • Learn a Victorian singing game.
Concertina Picture

2boys R + Victorian Group

Key Stage 2 : Victorian History School & Museum sessions

  • Drama, song, and sometimes dance too;
  • Continuing research, and much reference to primary sources, bring the children closer to the subject;
  • A choice of 2 whole day sessions, or half day sessions ;
  • Each sees my astonishing collection of instruments, mostly Victorian originals, with some newer look-alikes.

  • Resource CD for preparation & follow-up - songs, words, scripts, background information, sound clips - everything you need!
A very frequently asked question is,
"Richard, just how many instruments do you play?"
I've stopped counting, but it's quite a lot!

  • Victorian society, from high to low, contrasted and almost experienced.
More times than I can count, teachers say, in reviewing the day, "It's as if we were really there"

  • Both the harsher and the more entertaining side of Victorian life are presented, with reference to such figures as Shaftesbury on the way

  • Puppets always play a part, whether dancing jig dolls or the utterly unique and memorable Major Horton

Major HWhat do you mean, you haven't yet found out who I am?
Harmonium and me

Hymn Singers

Whole Day Victorian History School Sessions, KS 2

There's a choice of two.
Beggar boy Each involves the day spent rehearsing for an afternoon performance given before an invited audience.
Each has a story linking various scenes which illustrate different aspects of Victorian life, from workhouse to Respectable and better-off.
Each involves much drama, with everyone involved, songs, instruments, and a lot of relevant background information... and sheer good fun.
You may pass from the grind of 19th century street life to the raucous glee of the music hall, or from the servants' hall to working on Brunel's railways.
"Squire Horton's Village" is partly directed by the old squire himself, Major Horton.
Major HHave you still not found out who I am?

Both sessions are tried and tested: "Jack and Rose" has been re-booked by one school 12 times for 12 year groups, though it's continually evolved in that time and is never quite the same twice.
Teacher to children at the end of such a day: "I've done this workshop with Richard lots of times before, and I always learn something new."
- Heard many times over, but in almost the same words, in many schools.
Workhouse Board

Key Stage 2 Tudor History School & Museum sessions

  • A Choice of whole or half-day sessions.

  • Three different whole-day Tudor sessions involve everyone in playing, singing, dancing, and performing a presentation before an audience, all the time listening and learning.
    Each has a story line around which we rehearse the presentation.
    Each allows me to teach about the life & times, with details of how being gentry/common (rich/poor) would affect so many aspects of your life.
    One concerns Henry VIII and a Masque in which Henry actually played a part, One concerns the Spanish Armada, one is an Elizabethan style entertainment mainly for Christmas.
    They have been performed in many schools, before many audiences - parents, governors, local nobility, mayors; and even in the Great Hall at Longleat.
"Richard, you teach quite subversively! They think they're just enjoying a good day, and don't realise how much they're actually learning." - Deputy Head teacher, Northants middle school.
I bring a phenomenally large collection of replica Tudor instruments for everyone to see, hear, and in many cases hold and play.


  • Half day session: hands-on playing, plus dancing and singing during a guided tour of the Tudor period, but not leading to a performance.

  • In Museums and on heritage sites my Tudor session varies from one hour to a whole day, depending on site and requirements.
    Even a short one-hour session is still participation-centered.

  • Resource CD for preparation & follow-up - songs, words, scripts, background information, sound clips - everything you need!
Queen Elizabeth I and Attendants
Armada Evaluation by HT harp and cittern 2 Dulcimer players Drummers

17Cent Me

KS2 17th Century

I offer half day 17th century history education sessions for K.S.2 children, largely similar in character to my half-day Tudor sessions, which see;
  • Plenty of hands-on playing of instruments from my collection - tunes suitable for Cavaliers and Roundheads both.
    (So was Oliver Cromwell really opposed to all music and its pleasures?)
HGurdy Oval
  • Music for listening, played on more instruments

  • Sing some of the more suitable and innocent songs of the period - 17th century songs tend to be very wordy, or bawdy, or both, so I choose with care!

  • Information and stories about the Civil War, and/or the Fire of London if you prefer.

  • Dance, in a style favoured by King Charles II himself!


KS 2 and 3 Medieval History School and museum sessions

Medieval workshops have previously been in demand mainly for Key Stage 3 pupils, though I happily work with younger and older students as well.
With the increasingly Creative Curriculum, more age ranges are dealing with Medieval history. SO please ask me if this is what you'd like!
The workshop length is usually between an hour, and half a day; the longer time giving much more chance to get involved.

  • The format allows these students, who are beginning to be more sophisticated, the opportunity to discuss more in-depth questions.

  • They regularly arrive prepared to be cool and a bit detached, and equally regularly end up keen to have goes at playing medieval instruments, and even dancing!

  • I frequently use a theme of pilgrimage, which allows links into various social and musical directions

    For example, discussion of the local lord's house includes the music he'll hear, some of his rights and responsibilities, lifestyle, his wife, their eating habits...

  • Try to understand the medieval mind; play satisfyingly loud music!

  • In looking at sources, we may well spend time also discussing our undertanding of how history is preserved and interpreted by later generations.

  • And we do indeed play loud music! ... and some quieter as well.

  • CD of pictorial material - and more info due to be added in too.
Group Size for participation - normally c. 30, though a lecture-recital to larger groups can be made.

Occasional Younger Groups for Medieval period work

Med KS2 group This group was taking part in a project
commissioned by English Heritage.
R plus shawm

Chaucer Piper

Gifted and Talented Groups, and 6th Form Groups.

I always enjoy the extra mile these groups go!
I have worked with groups of Gifted and Talented pupils from KS2 upwards,
and with 6th Form special interest groups. While these may are widely different in age, there are similarities in the approach.
Perhaps I ought to call this section, "Other Student Groups".
Whichever age, these sessions allow me to stretch the students that bit further, while building their confidence in what they can do, and the new skills they are developing.

  • Projects can be varied, and tailored to fit the occasion.
  • The most used is session for musicians, on a Tudor/17th Century theme:
    • We investigate divisions, the style of writing variations in music;
    • We work on ways of building confidence in improvising to certain rules, at a level appropriate to the group.
    • Students may work either with their own instruments, or some of mine.

  • Another session has them looking into Medieval composition style, and creating their own pieces.

  • Dance is usually incorporated into the day, either as a whole group, or a parallel subgroup.

Teacher's Evaluation from KS2 Gifted and Talented Day
KS2 GT evaluation

The best thing really is to contact me and discuss the group you'd like me to work with.

Storytelling school and museum sessions

There are stories for all ages.

I tell traditional stories, often linked to a particular period, often with period sources.
When I do so, a personal joy is watch the adults who are in charge of a group of children forgetting to be in charge, and simply enjoying the story.
That is one way I know the story is working.

At present this telling is mainly incorporated into some my other work, but I already offer a day session, or a half-day session, using both storytelling and other traditional material.

More information will follow about my work with this vital and exciting art.
R storytells

British Traditions School and Museum Sessions

Britain has a rich, varied, and often under-rated traditional culture.
International tourists travel to view our heritage sites, but many UK residents don't know much about our tradition of story, music, dance, song and customs.
- and sadly for many people they're often simply a guaranteed joke line.
..."Morris Dancing..."
There's also a vast amount of unsubstantiated romantic mist available in many books supposedly teaching about the subject - "This tradition goes back thousands of years" etc.

Following several schools' requests for tailor-made workshops, I now offer sessions on British traditions, BUT, please note,
NOT from any nationalistic point of view.
One of the great strengths of the traditions is that, like the people of Britain, they have links, perhaps origins, in countries spread far across the world.

Which activities we do depends largely on session length, and teacher choice, but can include stories, tunes, dances both social and ritual, songs, customs related to particular times of year, and instruments: concertinas, hammer dulcimer, accordian, melodeon, whistle, pipe & tabor,and Northumbrian smallpipes.
We're just developing a double-act version of this workshop, with the spotlight on Folk Songs - seasonal songs, story songs, fun songs, sad songs, regional songs.
Elizabeth will be joining me for these sessions, and bringing her celtic harp too as well as her voice.

Seasonal Sessions: for example, Christmas and its History,
including, as well as song and dance:

  • What decorations came before Christmas Trees?
  • Wassail!
  • Which customs really are old, and which aren't? - there's a lot of myth about myth!
    • Is it true Father Christmas only got red clothes when Coke adverts dressed him thus? (No!)
  • Much more!
Brackley Morris
Me playing for the Morris
Brackley Morris on a cold Boxing Day 2009
Thanks to Dave for the pics!

Work with Adults

This encompasses a wide range, it's probably best to contact me and we can discuss what your group would like.
Among others, I have worked with:
  • Local History Societies
  • Friends of Museum groups
  • Adult Education groups
  • Practising Teachers on Inservice Training days
  • Student Teachers
  • American University students on cultural study visits to the UK

...and others, both large and small. Presentation style can vary from a lecture recital to a very active participation session involving playing and dancing by group members.
The session can be linked to a specific period, or can link different periods of history: one presentation looks at instruments as they change through different periods, bagpipes for example, from medieval to 19th century... without ever once playing the Scots Great Highland Pipes, which I don't!
I can work either in period or modern clothing.
Medieval Adult Participants

Praetorius illustration

Education Work in Museums and Heritage Sites

...which is sometimes difficult to separate from Interpretation and Performance work in such places, so please see those too

Again, the variety is wide, so it's best to contact me and discuss your event.
  • I have worked for English Heritage, The National Trust, in the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum,
    and a wealth of regional museums from Tullie House in Carlisle to Dover Museum and many between.

  • I have had regular bookings from museums who have their "Tudor Week" or "Victorian Week" events, with schools visiting in groups;
  • I have worked in museums with special needs groups, including a music workshop for the profoundly deaf;
  • with Key Stages 1, 2 and 3, with museum clubs;
  • I've worked indoors, and out of doors, (but with arrangements in case of rain - I don't like wet instruments!)
  • I've presented a Tudor Masque in the Great Hall at Longleat, and had early KS 2 children performing medieval music under tent cover in the rain at Chichele College in Northamptonshire,
  • I've presented myself as a musician visiting the Victorian household in Stacey Bushes Museum in Milton Keynes
  • or as a third person interpreter offering a range of Victorian activities at Claydon House in Buckinghamshire for the NT.
  • and a lot more!

      My work can be for any of the periods I cover: Medieval, Tudor, 17th Century, and Victorian/19th century.
      It's generally using the same approach as you'll see further up under the various KS and period headings, adapted to the time and place requirements of the site I'm working:
      - Carlisle's Tullie House, in conjunction with English Heritage, favours four groups a day, with short sessions for their Tudor Week.
      - Kettering Manor House Museum favours two longer sessions a day for both Victorian and Tudor school visits.
      - The Blackden Trust, in Cheshire, in an all adult session, only has room to fit around a dozen people into the working space at the Medicine House.

    I offer a flexible approach and wide experience, and am always willing to discuss new ideas with education officers.
Horton at the Gallery


Copyright Richard York 2009

This page refers to Richard York, and school visits, school history visits, to education workshops, school history teaching, to teaching history in museums, medieval history, Tudor history, 17th century history, Victorian history. It refers to story-telling, storytelling, dance, drama, ventriloquism, performance, music, participation, hands-on history workshops, creative curriculum, instruments, bagpipes, hurdy gurdy, harp, shawm, recorder, concertina, cittern, melodeon. It mentions harmonium,songs, hammer dulcimer, Major Horton, gifted and talented groups, home education groups, 6th-form, students, teaching students, adult education, historical societies, listening skills ,enjoyment, enthusiasm, memorable teaching, Ofsted, and CRB check