Prince’s Trust work placement at Gressenhall

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of exploring and engaging with Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse as part of my work placement for the Prince’s Trust team programme. Having toured museums in the past, I have always been intrigued by the extent of time and effort that must be invested by individuals behind the scenes. It has therefore been very interesting and rewarding to work with a diversity of subdivisions based around the Gressenhall site, including collections, the learning team, those maintaining the farm and front of house.

For example, I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the categorisation and movement of collected items either displayed in the museum or held in storage. This involved learning about how to safely handle and pack away aged objects, how to enter and update digital item records on the museum’s Modes system and how to draw relevant nuggets of information from original scanned paperwork (such as minutes taken from meetings between the board of guardians back in 1843). In contrast, I also spent a day working down on the nearby farm, where I got the fantastic opportunity to groom one of the Suffolk Punch horses kept onsite and interactively learn about the intricate (and surprisingly mathematical) planning involved in turning soil with a horse-drawn plough.

A display case of workworking tools I helped to process and pack

Horse-drawn ploughing in action

Prior to beginning my placement, I was unaware that the museum supported such a dedicated learning department, so it was educational in itself to join a school party of year 5s and shadow the team as they delivered a day-long event teaching about different aspects of Neolithic Britain. I was certainly impressed with the highly interactive nature of the four planned sessions – from throwing spears as part of a hunting party to engaging in a treasure hunt centred around the museum’s Neolithic exhibits – but also how inclusive the integrated talks were. The children were always encouraged to think for themselves by answering frequently posed questions, rather than simply listen to a wall of Neolithic facts. Later on in my placement, I was able to assist in preparations for a number of upcoming Victorian family Christmas events, setting aside arts and crafts materials for activities focused on making paper chains and peg dolls.

In addition, I also had the opportunity to shadow the front of house team as they supervised the site and carried out maintenance at a time where the workhouse and farm is closed to the public for the winter. This allowed me to learn about many different performed procedures, such as how visiting school groups are accounted for upon arrival and billed or how to correctly test fire and safety systems installed within the collections gallery, workhouse building and farm. I was also lucky enough to visit the Norfolk collections centre located onsite and inspect many of the amazing objects stored inside, such as a euphonicon (19th century upright piano) and the West Runton Mammoth tusk.

My handiwork preparing felt for the Victorian family christmas peg dolls

Admiring Gressenhall’s own version of the Indiana Jones Hangar 51 warehouse

All in all, I think that my experience of the numerous roles operating at Gressenhall has been enhanced by the fact that everybody has been so friendly, willing to demonstrate how they approach their tasks and informative in explaining their perspective with regards to the realistic expectations and difficulties of maintaining an engaging and inviting museum. So to everyone I have spoken with and worked alongside at Gressenhall Farm and workhouse, you’re doing a grand job and I’ve really enjoyed my time spent working here. You have my thanks.

Christopher Cox



Building a wall to break down barriers

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The Voices from the Workhouse project has redeveloped our wonderful building to tell the stories of the workhouse through objects, documents, sculptures and projections. Upstairs, the Collections Gallery is undergoing a fantastic transformation to showcase yet more objects from Norfolk’s rural past.

Alongside both these elements we’ve been running an extensive learning and engagement program to raise awareness of the museum’s new look and to encourage visitors to share their creative responses to the stories and objects on display. Some of these activities and projects have taken place here at the museum, and others have reached out into the local community. Some did both!

One such project was called ‘Brick By Brick’, inspired by the beautiful red bricks of the workhouse. What secrets do the walls hold? What could they tell us?

Lots of groups of different ages and abilities got involved. Participants were treated to a short talk and/or a tour of the workhouse which stimulated discussion on themes like rural isolation, poverty and institutions. It was easy to make connections to contemporary issues about how we look after the poor today.

After the talk and discussion, there were two activities. Firstly, the group placed wooden figures on a workhouse map. The cute little figures were extremely appealing to all ages, and the large-sized map made a very striking visual prop.

Locating and relocating the workhouse figures according to status, age and gender naturally provoked a lot of discussion relating to the issue of ‘difference’ in its many forms.

Then, each participant made and decorated a hollow ‘brick’ in whatever way they chose that made it meaningful to them. Inside each brick they were invited to put words, a picture or an object to represent their secret, wish or dream.

The ‘Brick wall’ was displayed, as promised to participants, at GFW during October half term 2016 in conjunction with another Learning & Engagement project and the GFW Collaborate exhibition, encouraging all those who contributed to visit the museum.

In April 2017 an additional Brick By Brick outreach session went to HMP Wayland, where prisoners in the PDU and PIPE units engaged fully with the idea of walls holding secrets! One of the prisoners wrote up the session and his final comments demonstrate how the message of the project had been successfully conveyed to participants:

When staff at Gressenhall workhouse museum present this talk they ask the group participating to make cardboard bricks – and then to decorate them in a way that tells their story. With the increasing numbers of cardboard bricks the museum is continuing to pass on the whispered stories of people’s lives. So yes, the walls can talk, as we heard in this session and the story continues to grow proving that we are more than a ‘Brick in the Wall’”.

‘Brick By Brick’ was just one of many community learning & engagement projects at Gressenhall. Watch out for our partnership making phonecase tweets with Mind later this year!!

Another Farewell

Hi everyone- Rebecca here, with another farewell blog post. I’ll be finishing my Heritage Learning traineeship in two weeks, which has come around far too quickly. I’ll be spending my last bit of time here delivering school sessions to Reception/Key Stage 1 children (ages 4-7) and doing some training at Norwich Castle which will be lovely.

Since my last blog post we’ve had the very exciting news that the museum has been awarded £1.47million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to redevelop our workhouse exhibitions. We found out not long before Christmas, and as soon as the New Year came around the collections team were busy clearing all of our workhouse spaces, ready for the contractors who are now here. This is a great achievement for the museum and will look fabulous once finished, but it did present a bit of a challenge for the education department. We run sessions for Key Stage 2 and 3 which use the workhouse, so we had to do some thinking on our feet to alter sessions that had been booked in before we found out we’d been successful.

no entry

Exciting changes are afoot

At the end of January I took groups of Year 9s on an outside tour of the workhouse buildings, looking into some of the changes that were made as a result of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, which changed the site from a house of industry to a workhouse. Preparing for this session was really interesting as I hadn’t noticed some of the changes myself (such as the remnants of a dividing wall between the casuals’ ward and the unmarried mothers’ ward). We also looked at historical documents relating to people who were once in Gressenhall workhouse, and compared them to documents about people living outside the workhouse at the time. This allowed pupils to gain a better insight into what it was like to live in poverty in Victorian times, and possibly to re-evaluate their opinion of the workhouse.


The only remnants of the dividing wall- see if you can locate it next time you visit

Recently it was half-term, which for me meant an opportunity to catch up on some DIY! I constructed a ‘mobile market’ which will be used for Key Stage 1 children to be able to role-play in our Village Row shop. A larger bulk of my time, though, was spent making progress with our 1950s-themed dolls’ house (which will be used, funnily enough, in our 1950s room for a 1950s-themed session). In my last blog I showed you some of the furniture we have for the house, and now I have finally had time to do the wallpapering. This proved just as difficult as actual wallpapering due to the tiny tiny measurements! One centimetre out and I had to start again… But I got there in the end. Some finishing accessories (such as an ironing board and pictures to go on the walls) arrived today; I will be laying (paper) flooring next week and our Live Interpretation Officer, Rachel, will be making some soft furnishings- then it will finally be ready to be used! I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished product, but I hope you’ll agree that it’s already looking pretty good.

doll house

An ongoing labour of love

In previous blogs both Tabitha and I have mentioned that we’ve been taking part in a Foundation Course in Museum Learning run by GEM. The course lasted from October-December and saw us visiting various museums in London to meet their learning departments and see what sorts of education offers they have. The course was invaluable in terms of practical tips, getting a better understanding of museum theory, and making contact with other people in the sector. I would never have been able to go on the course without this traineeship so I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

At the end of the course we were asked to write an assignment, for which I evaluated our new Neolithic school event which I mentioned in my last blog. I, along with the rest of Gressenhall’s learning team, delivered the event to just over 1,000 children between September and November. My assignment looked at the effect of the new Key Stage 2 History curriculum, which features prehistory and does not feature the Victorians- previously a staple of Gressenhall’s education offer. Here we are very lucky to have a prehistory gallery and lots of outdoor space, so thankfully we have been able to adapt well to these changes in the curriculum and our Neolithic event is of a really high quality (if I do say so myself). For other museums who don’t have this luxury, the changes have been very concerning. But equally, sites that focus on prehistory have seen school visits increase massively. For more info see this BBC News article:

As of yet I don’t know what I’ll be moving on to when I finish here, but I do know that my traineeship has given me masses of training and practical experience that will be useful wherever I go. I’ve had an amazing time here and would like to thank Rachel, Katie, Jan and Anna for welcoming me into their team, as well as everyone else at Gressenhall (including visitors) who make this such a special place to work… And of course, to the HLF for creating the Skills for the Future programme!

Rebecca Hunt

Heritage Learning Trainee

More Ancient House adventures and Fenland fun!

Hello all again! I am back with more exciting endeavours in Thetford, the Fens and beyond. So with lots to get through let’s get straight in!
Last week at Ancient House was very busy week with two big events, the first being the opening of our Thetford and the Great War exhibition part two. It was held on 11th November and was officially opened by Thetford Mayor Sylvia Armes, after the Thetford Royal British Legion standard bearers walked down from the war memorial in the marketplace. It really was a pleasure to see the standards, and it was great to talk to Thetford people about their memories of the war and items in the exhibition.
The second event was the launch of local historian David Osborne’s book ‘A Small Fragment of the Great War’ which was a great success with books flying off the shelves. A great thank you to David for signing copies as well. The launch was also attended by relatives of Thetford soldiers who are explored in the book and in the exhibition, so it was great to hear their family wartime memories. As well as this, one of the items in the exhibition is David’s grandfather’s wartime diary – which officially he should never have made – that David transcribed as a boy. It really is fascinating and gives an amazing insight into a soldiers experience during the period, so come and see it if you’re in the area! Both events were part of the Thetford Remembers town project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and went very successfully with everyone enjoying the community atmosphere and remembering everyone’s connections to the Great War. Well done to all involved!

1 thetford and the great war book

There’s still some signed copies available!

2 Standard bearers

Standard bearers

On the learning side of things, we’ve got the next Mini-Museum club this Thursday, with this month’s theme of Christmas. That means Christmassy crafts and songs, including the 12 days of Christmas – already preparing my voice! As well as this, the Teenage History Club are well underway with their event for Kids in Museums Takeover Day this year; a Murder Mystery! It is set in 1916 and involves a blunt object and plenty of suspicion. The teenagers have spent the last three weeks with Storyteller Dave Tong to help perform their stories and really get into character. I’m positive it’s going to be fantastic with plenty of secrets and shock for all.

For the Fenland side of things, as part of my traineeship for the project I was able to apply for a small amount of funding to do an event during the October half term. This went through successfully and plans for the ‘Frightening Fens’ came together! The family drop-in event included a storyteller regaling visitors with spooky goings on, a Fen wise woman with strange remedies, and an artist making ‘dead hands’ out of various materials. Other activities were Fen museum object handling, make your own lantern, plus all the children received a wooden amulet on which they could draw their own lucky symbol for protection. By the end of the day lots of people were walking around with arms full of amulets, dead hands, lanterns plus huge grins! Before the half term the event was also featured in two local papers and ‘what’s on’ sections, which felt fantastic knowing that after composing my first ever press release, the writing training I had was a success! Families and visitors thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and the freelancers said they had a great day too – despite a last minute illness and slight panic from me, but it’s all a learning experience! Personally speaking, it was a great day, and brilliant practice to organise a whole event from start to finish.

Frightening Fens: I’m sure many of the glowstick-filled lamps were used for trick of treating later in the week!

Frightening Fens: I’m sure many of the glowstick-filled lamps were used for trick of treating later in the week!

Moreover, last week was the Fen Youth Film Fest consisting of two showings of short films created by young people with the Fenland Lives & Land Project. It took place in the grand Kings Lynn town hall, and with the afternoon showing being seen by two local school groups there were plenty of laughs all around. The films were inspired by different aspects and topics of the fens, ranging from drainage to folk tales. The evening showing included a special premiere of the film Cathead – a surreal comic adventure created by the Lynn Youth Forum. Their brief was to create a film inspired by an object in the museum, and the chosen object was a cat head prototype from one of Frederick Savage’s carousel gallopers. The film the Forum made is truly surreal, but completely creative and a great example of the work young people can do. Two of the film makers are also now studying media at college!4 film fest

Alongside my responsibilities at the Museum and for the project I’ve been able to take part in various other training sessions and experience. My most recent was helping with the collections at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, with an audit being undertaken over the winter months. I hadn’t been into the Superstores based on site before, and it was truly fascinating – I was also able to see some of the Ancient House collections that are stored there. The sheer variety and unique nature of objects in the Norfolk Museum Service was an eye-opener, and really gave me a behind the scenes look. One day was spent working with volunteers to record a shelf of leather horse harnesses, and move them to another section to make space for incoming collections from another NMS site. I have done some collections experience before but it was really great to get back into the world of collections care and recording. One very interesting object was a large rope labelled ‘rope for weighing bullock carcass’ – that is one thing I love about museum objects, you really do wonder about the stories behind them! I also was able to help with getting objects from the furniture and painting store ready to go into the freezer, which meant cleaning and wrapping each one individually and ensuring each was labelled. I had heard so much about putting objects into the freezer to get rid of nasty bugs, so it was great to be part of the process, and as it is continuing into the new year I’m sure I will be back to help out!

The glamorous attire of collections care!

The glamorous attire of collections care!

6 coop cleaning
7 wrapped objects

 A last minute obscure object from Jan!

A last minute obscure object from Jan!

Alongside all of these exciting ventures, I am also taking part in the GEM Foundation Course for Museum Learning which began in October. It consists of three two-day training sessions in London museums with nine other participants, plus an assigned mentor, a learning log to keep up to date with, and a work based assignment. For my assignment I have decided to attempt a pilot offer in January of a Girl Guide sleepover in the museum, combined with an Arts Award Discover level qualification, and present the process in a case study. I know it is a big feat but I really believe Girl Guiding UK is an untapped market, and being a Guide Leader in training and involved in Guiding all my life, it really is a key group that could easily do Arts Award if only given the chance. Also there really is something extraordinary about a Museum out of hours, and I trust this will be a key element of the offer. Hopefully we’ll be able to give some behind the scenes exploring and even a special look into our cellar!
So with Christmas fast approaching it’s time to really get into the spirit of things. I’m currently researching some Christmassy Edwardian food to have on our open range as part of the big Thetford Lights On event this Friday 28th, when the whole museum will be open from five to nine o’clock with 1914 Edwardian games, food, costumes, and of course Christmas cheer! Then before we know it, it will be January – I can’t believe how fast time is going – but I’m sure they’ll be even more exciting adventures next year!

Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!!
Heritage Learning Trainee, Ancient House and Fenland Lives & Land Project.

Hello from the New Heritage Learning Trainee

Hi everyone! My name is Rebecca and I’m the new Heritage Learning Trainee here at Gressenhall.

Before coming to Gressenhall I had trained as a teacher and was volunteering in museums as I knew I wanted to work in Heritage Education. I am very lucky to be given the opportunity both to gain specialist training and to be working on such a lovely site (I am quite glad that our office is in the museum rather than on the farm, as I don’t think I’d get any work done with the temptation of piglets, lambs, a foal and even a farm cat so close by!).

I have been at Gressenhall for a month now which has flown by. We have had school groups visiting almost every day since I started so I have been doing lots of observation and helping out with sessions such as Three Little Pigs, Billy Goats Gruff, Homes Long Ago, Home Front Heroes, Victorian Activity Days and Homes or Habitats- if you’re interested, you can find out more about our school sessions here:

I have been looking at the different ways the education team interpret the site, how sessions need to be tailored to different age groups, and how to get children interacting with the site and our collections. Of course, learning in a museum environment is quite different to learning in a classroom- I am beginning to develop an understanding of this and look forward to discovering more over the course of my traineeship.

Bertie the soldier telling children about his time at the Front

Bertie the soldier telling children about his time at the Front

Last week we piloted a new session for Key Stage 2 called Annie’s War, which centres on World War 1. It was very interesting from my perspective to see a session being run for the first time; what the challenges were and how everything was prepared. Thankfully everything went well and the feedback from schools was positive!

Hoeing the field for Olive the Land Girl with the help of one of our Suffolk Punch horses

Hoeing the field for Olive the Land Girl with the help of one of our Suffolk Punch horses

I have also been helping with Muddy Museum Café, Gressenhall’s weekly Early Years session where we read a story, then have play and arts & crafts related to the story. For example, last week we read ‘Portside Pirates’ before going off to the woods to hunt for treasure, make pirate sashes and bandanas, and finally decorate parrots to take home. Having trained as a secondary teacher it is a real pleasure to be able to work with little ones, especially as we see the same children each week- a rare occurrence in museum learning!

Currently I am preparing a fairytale trail for our Once Upon a Time Key Stage 1 event. This has involved sourcing and photographing lots of fairytale characters. I even had to ‘uglify’ a duckling- not something I ever thought I’d be doing as part of my job! Another unexpected task later this week will be getting to dress up as an Ugly Sister, again as part of Once Upon a Time- I’m so excited! (Oh no she isn’t!) (I really am)

The now Ugly Duckling ready to go out on our Fairytale Trail

The now Ugly Duckling ready to go out on our Fairytale Trail

The summer holidays are rapidly approaching, which means no school groups for a few weeks. This is a chance to catch up on planning and administration, as the team are busy delivering during term-time. The Events team will be putting on family learning activities throughout the holidays, which I am looking forward to seeing, and then we’ll be gearing up for the new academic year when I will hopefully be doing lots more delivery.

I’m having a great time learning from Jan, Katie, Rachel in the Education team and all the other staff at Gressenhall, and can’t wait to find out what other weird and wonderful things I’ll be doing in the name of museum learning!

Rebecca Hunt, Heritage Learning Trainee

Gaining Skills For The Future in Heritage Learning

Hi I’m Tabitha the Heritage Learning Trainee and am based in two different places with two different hats to wear! During school term time I am mainly based at Ancient House, Thetford, and throughout the holidays I am mainly in King’s Lynn for the Fenland Lives & Land project, as well as across the Fens Museums when needed. Since graduating from university last year I have been involved with museums doing collections volunteering as well as working as a museum assistant leading tours. I’ve always enjoyed exploring historical sites with fascination since I was little and felt they are a vital place for learning, and for not just history but more varied subjects. When I saw this traineeship appear I thought it looked just my sort of thing – fun events with schools, projects, and working with youth groups – but it turned out to be so much more!

The title of Heritage Learning Trainee is one that includes a range of activities and tasks, especially as the traineeship is divided between sites, but a challenge is always rewarding and I got straight into learning the ropes.

Working with the Fenland Lives & Land project involves assisting with the great learning programme that’s on offer alongside the five community co-produced exhibitions funded by HLF which are touring the Fens Museums over the year. As one of the partnership museums Lynn Museum is having three of the exhibitions with the latest currently being installed, and to coincide with the fantastic exhibitions there’s great family events. The first was ‘The Vikings are Coming!’ which explored the links with the brave bearded explorers visiting the watery fen landscape.

Picture 1 viking event

‘The Vikings are Coming!’ Our Lives & Land event went down brilliantly. Odin would be proud!

 The day included meeting Vikings, creating your own Viking brooch, as well as having a go at coin minting in the Viking method. As this was my first large event during the traineeship I was excited to be able to create my own activity to be available on the day, and decided to offer a simple paper activity of ‘what kind of Viking would you be?’. As it was so popular on the day Project Support Worker Ruth decided it would be included in the summer Learning Programme. Some of the Fens museums have already booked the session so I expect to see more fantastic Viking characters being created this summer.
It was great fun on the day and interesting to be involved in the preparation for such a big event day. I will definitely be using those skills for future events coming up, with both the Fenland project and at Ancient House museum.

The next big event I was able to be a part of was a World War Two family day at Ancient House, run in partnership with the 8th in the East project, which explores the 8th United States Army Air Force in the East of England. The visiting families were given a G.I. Training Card upon arrival, and over the day completed the card with stationed activities. These including painting your own patch, meeting ‘Hank the Yank’, and making Wartime Truffles with myself and a volunteer (the secret ingredient being mashed potato!)

picture 2 1st photo wartime truffles

All prepped for truffle making.

This was my first chanceto get into acharacter session, which I know I will be doing a lot more of at Ancient House, as their historical events and school sessions are very popular, so this was a perfect introduction. I have done sessions with youth groups before, but it was a totally different experience being able to step back in time in a great historical kitchen, which if you have seen will understand how atmospheric it can be. Before this event there had been several meetings to organise the day and how it would work, and being a part of these was vital to understanding how much work goes into a joint heritage event, from the finance to the consideration of the museums Georgian floor and using paint!

 I really enjoyed the chance to use my knowledge of rationing and Dig for Victory, as well as getting my hands dirty with cocoa powder! It made me realise how much preparation is needed for events, and that you can never plan enough – as anyone in learning will know, anything can happen!

 Getting to grips with providing the sessions that are available at Ancient House, with Learning Officer Melissa Hawker, is a great experience as they are so varied, and really blows away any presumptions that museums are dusty old lifeless buildings! Another event I was able to be part of was the ‘Hard Times Victorian Mystery’ for the West Norfolk Home Educators. The day involved a serious crime of a stolen spoon, and Victorian sessions interweaved with suspicion and plot twists. It was great fun playing the role of ‘Alice’ for the day alongside four freelancers, which gave me more confidence in delivering a drama-based session while being able to observe them, and ad-lib when needed! It was also a key chance to gain more knowledge into how to provide a diverse session, as I had previously done drop-in family days or working with specific groups. However having to adapt to the varying ages that were present was a brilliant challenge and a fun day was had by all.

‘Hard Times Victorian Mystery’ – who took the silver spoon? Turns out I had!

‘Hard Times Victorian Mystery’ – who took the silver spoon? Turns out I had!

Very early on in the traineeship I realised my responsibilities would not only be school sessions and event days, but a whole lot more within the goings on and exciting tasks happening at Ancient House. When starting the role I knew my interests were not just in learning but also in collections, conservation, and curatorial management, and realised that within this position I am able to explore those roots and be involved in a variety of roles.

picture 4 1st lives and land

Installing the ‘Living on Land and Water’ exhibition at Lynn Museum in March.

With Fenland Project I have been able to help and obverse the moving and installation of the touring exhibitions, which meant visiting other fen museums as well as getting down to the nitty-gritty of what an exhibition really consists of.

Moreover, when I began in March the staff of Ancient House were preparing for a new exhibition named ‘I ♥ Toys and Games’ which celebrates play in living memory.

Working with volunteer Dan on some lead Snow White figures for the Toys exhibition.

Working with volunteer Dan on some lead Snow White figures for the Toys exhibition.

This meant I was able to get stuck in with a range of tasks from recording the vast amount of objects that were brought in on loan, to being in charge of the retro sweets needed for the exhibition opening. 

This gave me a great insight into the real effort and organisation that goes into exhibitions, and I am excited to be involved from the start with the Thetford in World War One exhibition to commemorate the centenary this year.

 As well as being able to explore my interests and passions through the ongoing exhibitions and mini-projects with Ancient House and the Fenland Project, I have been able to attend various training days. These range from SHARE Museums East courses on object handling & packing, housekeeping, and conservation, to an upcoming Teaching Museums day visiting independent museums around North Norfolk. So far these have all been really informative and have given me a wider knowledge of the roles within a museum, and the care and dedication that goes into caring for our vital collections and buildings by various people. We can all do our bit to help!

picture5 housekeeping training

Everyone’s got to do their bit with the Museum housekeeping!

To conclude then, it’s been a fantastic first few months doing such a great range of tasks and responsibilities. I’ve been able to gain a better understanding of the daily life and inner workings of a busy museum, as well as the organisation needed and involved in a project which covers a fantastic subject. With this position I’ve been able to visit several of the fens museums, and various sites in the Norfolk Museum Service. This has given me a whole other perspective when it comes to the efforts at a national level, and has made me realise how lucky I am to work (and live close to) such a unique and thriving area for heritage.

There’s plenty coming up for both roles. My ‘Fenland hat’ has been firmly on over the last couple of weeks to prepare for our Bygone Beasts event at Lynn Museum, which coincides with the opening of the Wild Fens exhibition – I’ve had a sneak peak and it’s looking fantastically ferocious! At Ancient House we’ve got several bookings lined up for more group activity days, plus our History Club and Teenage History Club are both getting through their new term programme. To add to the mix, as of last week I am trained to be an Arts Award advisor for Discover and Explore levels, so I can’t wait to start putting this to good use with our clubs.

All in all a great start to the traineeship being busy, learning, challenged, and having a blast! Bring on the rest of the year I say.



Ghosts, The Stoat and The Triceratops

The last few months working as the Heritage Learning Trainee at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse have provided me with a great number of exciting, useful and colourful experiences.


The Skills for the Future programme has provided me with the opportunity to enrol in a number of educational courses and to attend numerous training days. I am working towards a PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector) qualification and a Forest School qualification. Both of these courses are helping me to gain a better understanding of different educational practices and philosophies.



I have delivered sessions to visiting school pupils and engaged in live interpretation, to bring the educational ideas to life.

I have spent time at other museum sites such as Time and Tide, The Castle Museum, Denny Abbey, Kings Lynn Museum, The Museum of East Anglian Life, Dragon Hall, Strangers Hall and observed aspects of their formal and informal learning programmes. I have attended training days organised by Share Museums East on Preparing for the new Primary Curriculum and an Introduction to Museums course. Other training days I have attended include Hedge laying, Windmill restoration and ploughing with horses.




Working with Gressenhall’s Learning Department I have gained further insight into the structuring of both public and school events. Using the whole of our diverse site to create events, which captivate students and visitors through the choice of setting as well as the content being delivered.


There have been lots of exciting events, which I have been involved in; I played The Hatter at our Alice at Gressenhall themed Family day, The Butler at the Victorian Mystery day at Kings Lynn Town Hall,  I taught coin striking at the Medieval event. Alongside my fellow trainee Miriam I helped to organise our Halloween event, Ghostly Gressenhall.  This was a successful event and it was wonderful to see the Workhouse transformed into a place of candlelight and shadows. Our costumed visitors were entertained with games, art activities, ghostly tales from Neil Scarlett and a beautiful shadow puppet show from Ripstop Theatre.



Next to come there are our Victorian Christmas events for schools. These are followed by an event for the public, Victorian Family Christmas on the 15th of December, for which I am designing a photographic emporium for our visitors to dress up and pose for a portrait in.

My traineeship continues to swing between the serious and the surreal and it has been very enjoyable.

Thank you to everyone I have met for your support and advice.

Gawain Godwin

Heritage Learning Trainee

My first few weeks at Gressenhall


     My first few weeks at Gressenhall as the new public events trainee have been extremely interesting, even all the meetings (which were very handy for finding out who people are and what they do.) For the first couple of weeks I have been trying to get to grips with the site and all that happens on it. Hannah gave me a very helpful guided tour and again more introductions to various staff. I was surprised with the amount of people that worked on site, and am still seeing new faces four weeks in. I then got to work looking at all the events we have coming up and learning about what was needed for them, which in my second week included sourcing a tartan picnic groundsheet and a pool for Alice’s tears (Alice in Wonderland themed week in the summer holidays).


   I have also been observing some of the formal and informal teaching that the learning team do, which included a lovely tractor ride round the farm with some year 7’s doing the home or habitat activity and watching the teddy bears picnic in the centenary wood with muddy museum café which was excellent and the children seemed to really enjoy it. Also I found it very useful seeing how all these spaces can be used for different activities therefore being able to incorporate all areas of the grounds in the event days. I am really looking forward to helping organise the upcoming events. Including the Radio 4 Gardener’s question time on Monday 24th and the Garden Show which seems to coming upon us at lighting speed!

  I can’t wait to get started on planning the events for later in the year, which includes Village at War and Ghostly Gressenhall, it looks as if they are going to be fantastic! I’m really enjoying my experience so far and am excited for the rest of my year here!


Miriam Burroughs

Public Events Trainee