English Heritage is inviting families to make history over the February half-term, by joining characters from the past for hands-on events at its sites across England. With activities and performances ranging from sword fighting battles and pantomime kings to prehistoric pottery and Victorian novel-writing, history has never been so much fun!
- Hands-On English Heritage history events During February
- Victorian’s worst jobs at Audley End
- Tales from 1066 at Battle Abbey
- Meet the child kings of England at Warkworth Castle
- Who was the worst king in English history? Bolsover Castle decides
- Victorian dressing up and drama at Brodsworth Hall
- Medieval legends and sword school at Dover Castle
- Back to school at Eltham Palace for a lesson in Victorian novel writing
- Local legends and archery school at Kenilworth Castle
- Prehistoric pot making at Stonehenge
- Dressing up and drama at Whitby Abbey
- Archaeology and activities at Wrest Park
Hands-On English Heritage history events During February
Victorian’s worst jobs at Audley End
Audley End House and Gardens, Essex – 11-19 February
Think of this as a careers fair with a difference… From chimney sweeps to ‘pure’ collectors and matchstick makers to porcelain glazers, travel back in time to find out more about the vilest of Victorian jobs. Storytellers will be on hand at Audley End to bring the smelliest, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs to life!
Tales from 1066 at Battle Abbey
Battle Abbey, East Sussex – 11-19 February
March into history on the most famous battlefield in England. Follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror and King Harold as they clashed in 1066 and explore the atmospheric abbey that William built to commemorate his victory. Meet storytellers as they roam the site, telling daring tales of medieval knights, battles and monasteries.
Meet the child kings of England at Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle, Northumberland – 18-26 February
The family home to the powerful Percy family from the 14th to the 17th century, Warkworth Castle has seen it all. This half term, discover the stories of the child kings of Medieval and Tudor England – Henry III, Richard II, Henry VI, Edward V and Edward VI. Performers, with the help of audience members, will act out the significant events of their reigns and discover how successful (or, indeed otherwise) they were as kings. After the performance, children can get hands-on in the armour tent, trying on armour and weapons from each of the reigns of the boy kings, and enjoy interactive foam sword-fighting battles!
Who was the worst king in English history? Bolsover Castle decides
Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire – 18-26 February
Who was the worst king in English history? Families at the fabulous Stuart mansion Bolsover Castle will have the chance to decide for themselves this half term, in a pantomime-style performance, whereby England’s terrible monarchs battle it out to be crowned the worst. Also on site will be Tom Fool, the jester, showing off his silliest skills!
Victorian dressing up and drama at Brodsworth Hall
Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire – 18 – 26 February
Go back in time to the Victorian heyday of Brodsworth Hall, with special interactive storytelling over February half term. Families will come face to face with some of the Victorian residents and have the chance to make up and act out their own Victorian stories – with dressing up, drama, and themed games as well!
Medieval legends and sword school at Dover Castle
Dover Castle, Kent – 11 – 19 February
The mighty medieval fortress of Dover Castle has seen more than its fair share of history. This half term, discover tales of daring and dash from the medieval storytellers who have set up camp at Dover’s great castle. As well as hearing about heroics from the era, children can hone their own skills by taking a class at ‘sword school’ where they’ll learn how to be a medieval knight.
Back to school at Eltham Palace for a lesson in Victorian novel writing
Eltham Palace, London – 11-19 February
Budding authors should pick up their pens and head to Eltham Palace this half term, where they’ll be whisked back in time to the Victorian era to write an adventure novel. Victorian school teachers will bustle families into their school room, and create hair-raising, collaborative stories with them!
Local legends and archery school at Kenilworth Castle
Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire – 18-26 February
Families visiting this stunning Elizabethan castle over half term will be treated to performances incorporating the very best of Tudor history, including stories of Henry VIII and his daughter Elizabeth I – who granted Kenilworth to her ‘favourite’, Robert Dudley. There will also be performances dedicated to local legend, Robin Hood, and the opportunity for children to try their own hand at archery.
Prehistoric pot making at Stonehenge
Stonehenge, Wiltshire – 11 – 19 February
During half term, experimental archaeologist Graham Taylor is coming to Stonehenge to show families how to make prehistoric Japanese pots. This hands-on activity sits alongside a new exhibition at Stonehenge looking at the parallels between the Japanese and British prehistoric eras – despite no evidence of contact at the time. Both peoples built stone circles made stone vessels and used flaked stone tools at the same time. The exhibition features ancient Japanese artefacts that have never been seen in Britain before – including a 5,000-year-old Jomon Flame Pot.
Dressing up and drama at Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey, Yorkshire – 11-19 February
One of the most dramatic historic sites in England, Whitby Abbey is a storyteller’s dream: as demonstrated by Bram Stoker whose novel Dracula was so inspired by the 13th-century monastic ruin. Regular performances will take place each day throughout half term, telling the story of abbey life through songs, stories and dressing up fun.
Archaeology and activities at Wrest Park
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire – 11-19 February
One of England’s most impressive historic gardens, 18th-century Wrest Park is also home to one of English Heritage’s largest archaeological archives. This half term, families can find out more about what our historians do – with modern archaeology-themed activities including coin rubbing, digging and the handling of historic objects.
For more information on all the English Heritage family-friendly events taking place,