Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

A Day with the Tudors at Strangers’ Hall

March 19th, 2011 · No Comments

I’ve been really lucky in my volunteering, as I’ve had the chance to explore both Norwich Castle and Strangers’ Hall, and it has been a lot of fun. This week I helped with Tudor Day at Strangers’ Hall, which is really a beautiful building.  It doesn’t look like much from outside, but inside there’s a feasting hall, stone passages – very cool. It’s the kind of place that I would have loved to let my imagination run wild in when I was younger. Our ‘time-travelers,’ as one of the interpretors refers to the visiting students, this week were nine year-olds from West Earlham School, and they were supposed to imagine that they were Strangers from the Low Countries who had come to Norwich in the year 1565. They were welcomed by Sir Thomas Southerton, the mayor, and he told them that some locals might not take kindly to them because they were viewed as a threat to Norwich’s weaving trade.

Like the other days when I’ve volunteered, there were four rotations – in one the students learned about feasting and cooking in Tudor times, in another they learned dancing, in the third they got to try on Tudor costumes and talk about how we know what the Tudors dressed like, and finally their craft was making a loom and doing a bit of weaving. They seemed to really take to all of the activities. I helped out with the costumes in the morning – I was in charge of getting the girls dressed. So I would introduce myself as their lady in waiting and help them with buttons, laces, the works. We had a few dress as servants, and then a few fine ladies who needed to be tied into bodices, helped with petticoats, the works. Once all of the students were dressed, the interpretor would take them through all of the parts of their outfits. They looked absolutely fantastic, and it was really fun.

In the afternoon I helped with the weaving activity, so handing out materials, helping tape yarn in the right places, and teaching the ‘over-under’ method of weaving. It was a ‘fiddly’ activity, but it went pretty well. I think that it was a really successful day for the kids, and I really enjoyed helping. I’ve also had a great time getting to know the interpretors. Our lunches always involve several cups of tea and a chat about something historical. The other week people were actually debating whether or not the Romans or the Iceni had a better claim to Norwich. The people who work these programs are really passionate about what they do, and it’s great to see. Unfortunately the budget is being cut for next year, so there will be less interpretors to run all of the different activities. This means that Museum Services is going to have to consolidate some of their programs, which is a shame because the students seem to take to these days really well. It’s the difference between reading a textbook and getting to use your imagination to bring history to life, which I think is so important.

Date: 17/3/2011

Time: 9:30-2:00

Total Hours: 17

Supervisor: Daniel Pounds

Tags: 2010 Holly

The Tranistory Nature of Earthly Treasures

September 6th, 2010 · No Comments

As a college student in this day and age, the 21st century, certain aspects or principles of life tend to be on my mind like every other student in America. Specifically I ponder whether my future career will have worldly riches at the forefront or intellect and the communities well being. As my young mind tries to figure this out I was caught off guard in the National Portrait Gallery, in the section of the museum that is labeled “The Tudor Dynasty”. As this title suggests the majority of these portraits were of Kings and Queens and nobility ranging from King Edward II to King Edward VIII. However, among all these nobles and riches sat a man by the name of Sir Thomas Chaloner.

Sir Thomas Chaloner, unlike any of the other Tudors in that room, was not born into greatness but instead earned it, through sheer determination and the use of an insightful mind. He was a statesman, one of the first England ever saw. He served under four different Tudors, was knighted after participating in the war against the Scots in 1547; he is best remembered as the first English translator of Praise of Folly. Besides having such an amazing and extensive resume, what caught my attention was what I saw within his portrait. Just as I ponder about what my life will say about me, so did Sir Thomas Chaloner ponder the same question five centuries ago.  However, he was able to find an answer. His portrait depicts him in a frontal view with a very unwelcoming facial expression. In his hand he has a scale; on one side there is gold and the riches of the world on the other lies a stack of blazing books that outweigh the “transitory nature of earthly treasures.” Above him is a Latin inscription that refers to the Assyrian King Sardanapulus’ realization on material riches, “they fade black and begrimed with soot as though gold were nothing else but smoke…” ( You may find more information on the portrait at http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw01174/Sir-Thomas-Chaloner?search=ss&firstRun=true&sText=Sir+Thomas+Chaloner+&LinkID=mp00823&role=sit&rNo

Although I know Sir Thomas Chaloner, like the majority of humans, had many faults I commend him for devoting the intelligence he did gather for the improvement of society. I only wish to take the privileges I have received so far and will receive in the future to improve our 21st century society in one way or another; whether it be helping a child understand their homework , or having an active part in legislation. Only time will tell if I achieve this, in the meantime I will keep searching for my own answer.

Tags: 2010 Jamie