For local children 100 years ago Ripon’s Workhouse was a place of dread. But last week, children from Bishop Thornton CE Primary School couldn’t have enjoyed their visit more. When teachers asked, ‘What was your favourite part?’ the immediate reply was: ‘All of it!’
To get the full experience, the children came in Victorian dress, as did teachers and a school governor too. Matron welcomed them at the gate. Then, in the School Room, they met the back-straightener, the finger stocks and the dunce’s cap. In the Laundry, they tried their hands at everything: from stirrer, tongs, posser and mangle through to clothes pegs. The children were all very proud of their finished efforts, hung up on the line to dry.
Traditional Victorian games were also a great hit – surprisingly so, perhaps, for this modern IT generation. In fact, Hunt-the-Penny was so popular that teachers had to promise the children could play it again in ‘choose time’ at school on Friday.
A Workhouse Museum spokesperson particularly commented on the children’s wonderful behaviour. ‘I would love for them to visit again, maybe in the holidays, when there are lots of other activities to take part in.’