Victorian servants ‘work experience’ days on the up at Powderham Castle
Children from schools across Devon have been having a taste of Victorian life at Powderham Castle, the 600 year old family home of the Earl and Countess of Devon located on the outskirts of Exeter.
The Victorian Kitchen and Servants Hall at the Castle were restored five years ago with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to provide an educational resource and another aspect of the castle for the attraction’s visitors to see.
The Kitchen and Servant’s Hall is into its fourth school year as a formal learning facility for schools and so far around 3,000 children have transformed themselves into Victorian children and stepped through the doors of the castle to spend a day on work experience as a member of the household staff.
Simon Fishwick, estate director told the Devon Week: “We are delighted that our Victorian Learning Programme is such a success and proving to be a fantastic learning resource for schools wishing to supplement the children’s learning outside of the classroom. We have had 90 groups take part to date with another nine booked in over the coming months so we hope to hit 100 before Easter.”
Children are able to learn about the roles of the housekeeper and cook through hands on activities from boot polishing and carpet beating to helping cook make tasty griddle cakes.
There is a great opportunity for the 40,000 who are expected to visit the castle this year to also learn about life in the domestic quarters as an addition to the regular guided tour.
Simon said: “We are planning to extend the ‘Victorian Experience’ to all our visitors this season, by offering them a taster of life ‘below stairs’. They will meet Cook in the Victorian kitchen and get stuck in to some of the chores that would have been carried out at the time.”
The current revival on television seems to have stimulated the public’s interest in history and particularly the Victorian era. The opportunity to actually experience it first hand is bound to appeal, not only to children, but also to adults. The Victorian Experience is expected to be available to visitors throughout the Easter and Summer holidays.