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Year 7 History Trip to Bury St Edmunds

13 June 2016. 

The day dawned with a battle ship grey sky and a weather forecast promising heavy rain and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. A perfect day for engaging in a spot of outdoors history exploration! The aim was to set the students some challenging observation tasks, using what they could see and combining it with their knowledge, to spot the evidence of the distant past lurking on the ground and in the buildings of Bury St Edmunds.

Most of this took place in and around the famous Abbey Gardens where students were hunting to find a list of key features and trying to relate the ruins left in the ground to the reconstruction drawings showing the one magnificent and massive abbey. Most of the children – and the staff – found this very challenging but most gave it their best shot. Particular mention should be made of Joel Goldney whose skills at ‘reading ruins’ and relating them to plans and drawings is truly exceptional.

We also had a town walk in which students had to identify the oldest buildings in five locations in the town. They used their knowledge of old timber framed buildings to good effect and could even spot 15th century buildings concealed beneath an 18th century skin!

St Mary’s Church was the only interior we visited on the trip. Here the emphasis was on finding famous dead people’s graves and recording some of the odd wall memorials on the walls of the church. The students also had to try to count the angels on the magnificent 15th century hammer beam roof. Some were confused because a typo on the worksheet had described the ‘angels’ as ‘angles’ and therefore some students thought it had morphed into a really strange maths trip!

In all seriousness I think the opportunity to look with care around you and apply ‘practical history observation skills’ is really valuable, and something we should seek to do more often – but in better weather!

We all got a bit wet, and the decision was taken to shorten the day slightly to avoid the possible thunderstorms. Lunch was taken between showers, in the gardens and the majority of students boosted the profits of the café/ice cream stall. Thanks go to the accompanying staff – Mrs Frances, Mrs Hammond, Mr Russell and Mr Downey who stayed cheerful throughout!

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