On Monday the 3rd of December we went on a trip to Tynesfield. After travelling there we split into two groups one of which went to the house in the morning and the other went to the education centre. In the education centre, we learnt more about what living in Victorian Britain was like and what sort of people were employed at big Victorian houses like Tynesfield such as servants and cooks. In the house, we saw how a traditional Victorian house would have looked.
On entering the house, the first thing you could see was the grand hallway which was filled with carol singers and a large Christmas tree. As we moved into the dining room a pineapple could be seen (a very expensive luxury in Victorian times). As we moved into one of the many sitting rooms, we were informed that this room alone was home to over 3,000 books! As we moved into what was a kitchen, we could make a Christmas cracker or a Christmas decoration. The process was fun and it didn’t take too long.
As we moved upstairs, we got to see the size of the bedrooms and they were rather grand; however the beds were on the petite side due to Victorian people on average being shorter than we are now. As we moved in to the second bedroom, we got the chance to wear a Victorian women’s outfit. They were made of very soft material; however, I don’t really think it suited me (I think I’ll stick to jogging bottoms and a jumper!) The last room we could enter was a chapel. It was grand (like the rest of the house) and it was decorated with traditional stained-glass windows. The chapel really showed the immense wealth that the family had.
After we finished the tour of the house, we headed up to a small brick building with a screen set up in it. On the screen were facts about Dickens and other small details about a Christmas as a Victorian. Then our lesson on Victorian Christmas started. The lady started with telling us about Dickens and his upbringing making it very clear that he was unique, this was as result of his social mobility-the fact he went from being rich to poor and back to rich again, this let him have an insight on all types of people’s lives from all types of backgrounds. This knowledge inspired majority of his books and, as Christmas is a hard time for the poor, who he was trying to help the most, that is the time he set a number of his books.
Next, we moved on to looking at the house. We started with its history and who lived there. Then we moved on to the jobs of the house and what people (rich people) did for fun. The family didn’t do too much. The children learned basic maths and English and were allowed and had the money to have a higher education if they wished. The adult men went hunting for fun and played sports like golf, croquet and polo. The women of the house held parties, did art work and practiced musical instruments. There were plenty of jobs to do in the family household but, of course, the family didn’t do it; they hired people to do it for them.
Working in a rich family’s house was much better than working anywhere else. It was better to work for the lowest price than to work on farm or in say a workhouse as it allowed people to earn a respectable amount and get out of the job if they wish. Salaries varied from £60(butler)-£8(laundry maid). However, this salary was all theirs as the family provided housing and food for all staff. Afterwards we started to look at a Victorian Christmas in a big house and what gifts and things were given. This was a very practical and hands on activity with dressing up and games (it was very fun!)
We left the small building and headed for the car park; the day was finished. It was an excellent trip with lots of hands on and enjoyable activities. Everyone enjoyed it and the house was mind blowing - the sheer size of it and its rooms and the immense amounts of money and time it consumed to build shocked me. Also, the history of the family was fascinating and finding out what Christmas was like was really good fun. So, I thank Mrs Francis, Mr Buncombe, Miss Nicolson and Miss Fidan that went for the trip as it was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience!