Silence in class! New Victorian classroom and Inventions and Amusements gallery to open at Bodelwyddan Castle

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Pictures taken by Jamie Gilmour of We Photograph Anything

NOW sit up straight and listen! Bodelwyddan Castle is about to open a new Victorian classroom and an Inventions and Amusements gallery, adding to its growing roster of attractions.

We've relocated our Victorian Inventions and Amusements room to an extended and modernised area of the castle and added a Victorian classroom for schools and visitors to special events, offering a taste of life from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The new facilities are among £250,000 of developments planned for the Castle this year that include replica World War I trenches in the parklands and the creation of a Victorian-style orchard.

Both classroom and inventions areas are being opened to the public from Good Friday. On Sunday April 3 we have a special event featuring famous Victorian characters Michael Faraday, Florence Nightingale, Charles Darwin and Charlotte Bronte who will be exploring optical illusions and telling incredible tales.

Now pay attention, class. Meet the Victorians celebrates the official opening of the Victorian Inventions & Amusements galleries and the new Victorian school room on Sunday April 3, from 2pm to 4pm. Visitors will be amused and inspired by famous Victorian people and welcome to explore and discover the new displays. Click here to find out more

The Victorian school room has been created to hold workshops for school classes, led by a strict but very knowledgeable school mistress. Lessons will be tailored to different age groups and include good behaviour and discipline, the three ‘Rs’, the terrifying Welsh Not (once allegedly used to punish youngsters for speaking Welsh), song, storytelling, drama and lots of pupil participation.

Pre-film animation devices including a Zoetrope and Kaleidoscope are among the weird and wonderful contraptions in the Inventions and Amusements galleries. Previously one of the highlights of the castle tour, the exhibition has been extended to provide more space for trying out the inventions as well as information displays.

Youngsters from Ysgol Y Faenol in Bodelwyddan were among the first to visit the classroom and take part in a lesson led by school mistress and professional storyteller Ruth Moore Williams.

Lisa Kay, Class Teacher for Years 2 and 3, said they would be learning about Victorians next term, so the class visit was a timely experience.

She said: “The whole class thoroughly enjoyed their morning being taken back to Victorian school life. They were able to get straight into character as soon as they arrived and the way Ruth went in and out of character meant she could explain aspects of past school life in greater detail.

“The children were so engaged in the activity, so when they came back to class they recalled a lot of what they had learnt to help start our planning for next term. Now we just want to go back and spend some more time with the Victorian toys!”

Bodelwyddan Castle Trust Director Kevin Mason said: “The Victorian school room is a wonderful new teaching resource for groups of all ages to immerse themselves in an experience of life in the past.  “Youngsters can expect to dress up, discover what life was like for a Victorian child, and take away some important ideas about our place in history.

“Together with our new Victorian Inventions and Amusements galleries, the museum, fine art, parklands and the forthcoming trenches development, Bodelwyddan Castle has such a lot to offer all ages, local and visitors alike.”

There is a precedent for teaching at Bodelwyddan Castle as it was home to a girls’ school from 1920 to 1982. Called Lowther College, the “school in the castle” as it was known is remembered in a display near the new Victorian school room.

Bodelwyddan Castle attracts more than 55,000 visitors a year and is a regional partner of the National Portrait Gallery, unique to Wales and the surrounding area, featuring a large number of important Victorian portraits.

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