It was a perfect Autumn Day - grey limestone manor house silhouetted against an azure sky.
And so it was that we arrived in the village of Sulgrave, time travellers anticipating slipping into a world of theatre, court intrigue, women of strong character who waited to learn their fate, kings who held the power of the Tudor dynasty and the decision between life and death.
In the courtyard of the old stone house, stood all our children, now suitably transformed into Tudor ‘fellows’ and ‘maids’. They looked fascinating and they understood how it felt to be clothed in wool, with appropriate head apparel.
I was very proud of every child and they behaved impeccably, demonstrating so much interest that our guides concluded that all the children were a credit to us!
Drama unfolded in the Great Hall as Henry VII arrived victorious from the Battle of Bosworth Field and throughout the afternoon the children re-enacted life as a Tudor monarch.
The Great Bedchamber was fascinating with its high rafters and sturdy canopied two poster bed. The expression, ‘Sleep tight!’ referred to the mattress on the bed frame so that with the use of ropes, (crossed in a grid like pattern), they could be pulled tight to appear firmer, thus avoiding the sleeper from falling through the frame, onto the floor!
The Tudor baby, (swaddled and placed in the cradle) had to be protected from vicious rats who were partial to a bit of eye ball so the ideal ‘baby minder’ took the form of a large hook on the wall where the baby was ‘hung up’ for a short while – if the maid had to leave the room. Hence the term, ‘bored stiff’- the baby was attached to a board. There are so many Tudor expressions in use today!
Learning of Tudor spices, how to light a flint in the Buttery and training to be a ‘spit boy’ were a few of the experiences.
With a smile and wave we all made our way through the pale cream stone archway and as we did so, sixteenth century England appeared to slowly fade away and the lights of home beckoned. It was a lovely day, made all the better by having such lively, well behaved children to be proud of!