Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Out-of-season Field Trip

One of the many, MANY reasons that I love Home Ed is because we get to visit places off-peak, and enjoy exploring without being surrounded by hordes of people.  OK I may sound a little anti-social, but really: who wouldn't prefer to visit places without having to queue for ages or push through noisy crowds to get to where we want to be?  Just me, huh...? *ahem*

So yesterday we went to Warwick Castle as what school might refer to as our "Wars of the Roses Field Trip".  We just call it a fun day out with family.  It had taken me completely by surprise that we were looking at the end of the Plantagenet era for so long, but that's another of the beauties of HE: if a child (or, as on this happy occasion, all of us) becomes absorbed in a subject, we can stay with it for as long as the interest lasts without having to move on until ready.  The boys (and I) were fascinated, and as mentioned in the last post, I thought it would be fun to visit Warwick Castle as it is nearby and provided the backdrop for some of the accounts of history that we had been reading.

It was great!  We arrived in time for a 45 minute tour of the castle.  The tour guide said that the day before (a Sunday) he had a group of a hundred people, whereas we shared him between our family of five and two other couples - just nine of us!  It felt very exclusive.  The tour was all outside which I wasn't expecting, but it didn't rain and wasn't too cold - and it was fascinating.  He covered the role of Richard Neville who we had been enjoying learning about, plus an overview of the rest of the 1,000-year-plus castle history.  After that we grabbed a quick lunch, then explored the castle apartments (it was warmer inside), the Kingmaker's exhibition and the Time Tower multimedia experience, before watching a bird of prey demonstration and stopping off in the castle gift shops on the way home.  We told the boys that they could have £5 each to spend in the shops, or £10 each if they could persuade us that their purchase would help them in their learning.  This was more to help them develop their pitching skills than anything else.  Youngest got it straight away, choosing a toy bow and arrow set and saying it would help him learn about archery and improve his aim! Eldest wanted a sword but faltered at the persuasive part, until Middle prompted him to say about the history of fencing etc.  A bit more tenuous, but we let him have it.  Middle chose a selection of dragon figures and simply said he wanted to learn about dragons.  It was fascinating to watch the boys' varying levels of confidence in their ability to persuade, and lovely to see them help each other when they got stuck.

Warwick Castle

In The Kingmaker's exhibiton: Richard Neville, preparing for battle...

even his horse was equipped to fight, with a nasty looking spike on his battle-mask

we discovered that boys as young as seven (Youngest's age) were employed in battle, to collect used arrows from the battlefield - even if that meant removing them from dead bodies!

a "murder hole" in the roof between two portcullises, through which the castle inhabitants would pour boiling wee/ poo on the invaders below (it was cheaper than oil!)

gorgeous owl from America (I was distracted during introduction so missed its breed)

beautiful barn owl - one of our very favourite breeds

We learned that Warwick Castle was owned not only by Richard Neville, but also by Prince George (Edward IV's brother) after Neville's death, and then handed to George's son Edward on his father's execution.  Once Henry VII was on the throne and Edward imprisoned then executed, Warwick Castle was seized as Tudor crown property.  This was a great segue into looking at the Tudors (who we were originally going to be studying since the start of term), so today we read a few accounts of Henry VII, and noticed particularly how savvy he was in gathering wealth and how little blood-shed there was, compared to the reigns of his predecessors.  We really liked the story in the excellent Kings and Things book (if your children like the Horrible Histories style as mine do, I really recommend this book) - and read all through the tale of John Cabot discovering Newfoundland for Henry as well.  Eldest decided to draw a picture of Cabot's little Tudor ship, The Matthew, while Middle drew a portrait of Henry VII.  Youngest decided first to draw Cabot discovering land, then he wanted to draw the pretenders to the throne (Simnel and Warbeck), then he ran out of steam and just drew Henry VII on the throne.  Actually, the fact that he did anything at all was impressive, as he was feeling a bit under the weather.  His picture has gone AWOL at present - will add it later when it reappears, but for now I can only post his brothers' ones...

Middle's portrait of Henry VII

"The Matthew" by Eldest

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