Hands on our History.

Welcome to my website about my School workshops, local history talks and events. From Romans, Tudors, Vikings, to Victorians and much more, I have lots of interesting and exciting things to share with you. I am a qualified Archaeologist with over 20 years of experience of workshop delivery in both schools and museums. I cater for schools mainly in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Lincolnshire and occasionally further afield by request.

What I Do

All the sessions I provide give a hands-on investigative approach to history – essential to historical enquiry and understanding – and are fun too! They enhance and support learning in the classroom, bringing the topics alive in an exciting way and making them more accessible to children. The sessions also appeal to a range of abilities and differentiated learning styles. For the children to be able to touch real artefacts from the periods under study can prove to be an exciting and stimulating experience – and one that they remember for a long time. All the workshops fit in with the requirements of the National History Curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 while offering a cross-curricular approach at the same time. I am fully CRB checked.


Workshops, Talks, Walks, & More

Key stage 1

Toys from the Past
An opportunity to sample old fashioned toys, mostly within living memory. Good for investigating materials – especially pre-plastic. The highlight is the chance to play with a good selection of real and replica toys and games! For the infant classroom I also have a selection of dressing up clothes to add to the fun.

Work, rest, and play
A hands-on workshop where the children handle and investigate a wide range of everyday artefacts, mostly within living memory. Household, work related, and toys and games (these include some replicas), plus dressing up clothes!

Digging up the Great Fire of London (and/or the plague)
Handling workshop investigating real archaeological artefacts from the time of the Great Fire of London, many of them actually found in London! Even see Samuel Pepys's wine bottle. Through this the children will discover more about everyday life in the 1660s. For the finale the children can meet Samuel Pepys himself!

Key stage 1 & 2

Old-fashioned School room
A part role-play and part comparison workshop, sampling the experience of the 3 R’s, writing on slates, learning by rote, and of course being threatened by the cane and the dunce’s hat. I can provide enough costumes for boys and girls for one class.

Medieval life
A look at Medieval life in Britain from the remains they left behind, including real and replica pottery, bones, jewellery and much more. See how archaeology tells us about everyday life in this period. I come dressed in Medieval costume too!

On the Buses
A look at how transport has changed through time focusing on buses - including the use of models, photographs, and artefacts to show the development of this familiar type of vehicle. This includes changes in living memory such as the open platform buses, trolleybuses, conductors, and much more. A trip on a vintage bus can be arranged at an additional cost subject to availability. Ding ding, hold tight please!

Key stage 2

The Romans / Anglo-Saxons / Vikings in Britain
This workshop provides ample opportunity to handle, investigate and draw a range of real and replica artefacts including bones, pottery, iron-work, jewellery, coins, and bone utensils (and much more) are also included. The inclusion of a helmet and some weaponry (with a surprise attack!) often proves to be the highlight of the workshop and meets with a very enthusiastic response! Through these workshops the children will have a much better understanding of how the Romans/Anglo-Saxons/Vikings lived in Britain

A load of Rubbish
This workshop uses an archaeological approach to explore a wide range of real Victorian finds – including some actually used by Victorian children! Topics include Health & Hygiene, Sanitation, the Great Exhibition, Famous people, and Events in the Victorian period. A fun way to investigate Victorian life.

Blitz and Pieces
Within this workshop the children identify and sort a wide range of household and war-related artefacts that have been found in an imaginary house blitzed during 1941. The session is based on an actual family who lived at the time and offers lots of potential in exploring issues to do with life in Britain during wartime. This session covers a significant turning point in British History as defined in the revised NC, including the local history study.

Air raid
Experience what it would have been like in an air raid shelter. From hearing the siren we enter a mock up shelter (blacked out room), sample some World War II songs, and learn how people occupied themselves within the shelters. Hear about the role of the air raid warden, the types of gas masks, have a gas mask drill, and discover what you would need in a shelter. This session covers a significant turning point in British History as defined in the revised NC, including the local history study.

My History Talks

I offer a selection of talks, many of them illustrated and/or using artefacts for a whole variety of groups, such as W.Is, local history societies, probus clubs, etc. My standard charge is £50 per talk, unless for groups of over 40 people when other rates apply. Please note there may be an additional charge depending on the distance travelled to the venue.

Please choose from the following...

Middens and Muck
How did our forebears cope before the days of flush toilets and dustbins? Discover the intriguing story of sanitation in Victorian Nottingham and revel in the contents of the tub closets and midden privies. A popular talk for which a sense of humour is essential!

So you think you know Nottingham?
How observant are you when you visit Nottingham? These linked talks are a light-hearted quiz looking mainly above shop-front level to discover more about the wonderful buildings and features within or near the city centre. Hopefully these talks will also make you more aware and open your eyes! So if you enjoy the first talk you can book parts 2 and 3 for another time. Can be combined with a follow up guided walk.

Robert Blincoe: Nottinghamshire’s Oliver Twist
Robert Blincoe served his apprenticeship within two Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire textile mills during the early nineteenth century. Dubbed the ‘real Oliver Twist’ on whom Charles Dickens may have based his well-known fictional character, Robert and his contempories had to endure terrible working conditions throughout their childhood years. This talk outlines aspects of his life-story, some as told in his own words, supplemented with photographs of the places where he worked, along with additional research. Not for the faint-hearted!

On the Buses: Remember the trolleybuses, back-enders, and clippies?
A nostalgic look at the history of buses in the Nottingham area, focusing on Nottingham City Transport, and also summarising the other major local operators. We see many once familiar street scenes – some long gone and some much changed. Specific talks can also be given on the history of the former South Notts Bus Company, or the former West Bridgford Urban District Council buses.

Murder, Mystery and Misfortune
This talk is based mainly on surviving reports of some 18th and 19th century Coroners’ Inquests for the Nottinghamshire area. We hear of some of the catastrophes that befell our ancestors, and find out how these documents reveal a vivid picture of events at the time. Examples relevant to your own locality can usually be included. Not for the faint-hearted!

Edward Carver: A Journey into Family and Local History
This talk follows the life of a Nottingham shopkeeper in the 19th century and his interaction with local and even national events. There is gossip, scandal, love, tragedy, and even mystery and intrigue. As family history is all about detective work this presentation is structured in such a way that it will also hopefully provide clues to help others with similar research – and demonstrate there is always potential to find out more. Research is never finished! Can be combined within a linked guided walk of Nottingham city centre.

Potions, Lotions, and Cure-alls
We’ve all heard of Boots the Chemists. But what about some of Nottingham’s many other chemists that also flourished a hundred years ago? This talk focuses on a selection of some of them, and we ‘sample’ some of the amazing products that they sold.

Destitution & Despair: The early years of Claypole Workhouse
Many of us have ancestors who may have been born in or been admitted to a workhouse. What was typical life like for the inmates? This talk focuses on the Newark Poor Law Union Workhouse at Claypole (on the Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire border), and reveals real life cases of scandal, intrigue, and the attitudes towards illegitimacy and the destitute….all of which has been researched from original archives and yet to be published.

Well, well, well…..the intriguing story of some of Nottingham’s caves and wells
Beneath Nottingham’s streets and buildings are a unique series of man-made caves and wells. This talk describes what the caves were used for, and we examine some of the archaeological finds discovered within them.

Digging up old clay tobacco pipes
Are you a member of an allotment group, gardening group, or an archaeological society? Fragments of old clay pipes are common finds in gardens and dug-over ground, but did you know that these everyday objects have a fascinating history of their own? This talk examines their uses, manufacture, styles, and their potential to help with archaeology. Audiences are encouraged to bring along any examples they may own for identification or discussion.

Mudlarking in the River Thames
Walking along the banks of the River Thames at low tide is literally going back in time, as the river is constantly revealing secrets of days gone by. This talk looks at the sorts of finds that can turn up, some modern and some ancient – and some very strange! Who would have thought that long after things were lost or dropped into the river that anyone would want to find them again?

Webb of Intrigue: The story of the Webb family of Newstead Abbey
During the Victorian period the Webb family moved to Newstead and made their mark on the house and the wider world. This talk looks at the members of the family, examines their connections both locally and internationally, and also reveals who else lived and stayed at Newstead during their time there – whether famous or not. We also see views within the house!

Albert Ball: Nottingham’s World War I ace pilot
Based on surviving letters, this talk focuses on Albert Ball’s own accounts of his life and adventures. Through his own words as he was growing up we find out more about his family and see how he coped in the days when flying was still in its infancy. Did his attitudes and philosophy on the War change as time went on? What happened to him?

The Luddites: Nottingham’s Response
In the early 19th century, local framework knitters faced desperate times. This talk describes how the authorities attempted to quell the situation and the lengths at which some individuals went to in avoiding having to take their turn on nightly patrol! We also examine some of the fascinating documents that provide a wealth of detail on Nottingham people and their attitudes at that time.

Can you name the object?
Museums have some weird and wonderful objects from the past. Here we actually investigate a selection of them, and we see whether or not you can work out their correct uses from a series of plausible and not so plausible explanations…a bit like call my bluff. Suitable for a smaller audience (around 25 or less)

A Load of Codd’s Wallop
A history of the common glass bottle, concentrating on some of the amazing innovations that were developed during the 19th century. Discover the fascinating story of these everyday items and their contents……

Belvoir angels: A grave story
Within the south Nottinghamshire area there are some wonderful slate headstones within the churchyards. This talk examines a selection of them, revealing their fascinating artistry and symbolism, and focuses on a survey of a series of gravestones that are unique to the area. Your visits to local graveyards will never be the same again. Can be combined with a tour by vintage bus on request.

Joseph Woolley: The diary of a framework knitter
If you thought village life two hundred years ago was tranquil and idyllic think again! Thanks to Joseph Woolley we can sample the goings on within a typical Nottinghamshire village in the early years of the 19th century, including the gossip and scandal (audience participation is encouraged to share the reading of extracts). ‘East Enders’ eat your heart out….

A Servant’s Lot
Life below stairs as a servant in Victorian times could be very hard. This talk looks at the types of jobs performed by typical indoor and outdoor Victorian servants, including the use of contemporary accounts of their lives (audience participation is encouraged to share the reading of extracts). It makes you realise how lucky we are today!

Portraits of the Past: Victorian Studio Photography in Nottinghamshire
With the invention of photography in Victorian times studio photography soon became well established and Nottingham had its fair share of local studios. This talk looks at a range of the local photographic artists and their pictures, showing some of the fashions of the day and clues as to how to date studio photographs. If you have any Victorian family pictures yourself why not bring them along?

The origins of everyday sayings
Are you laid out like lamb and lettuce? Is it raining cats and dogs? Have you gone to pot? Have you been saved by the bell? Find out the fascinating and sometimes surprising origins of many of our everyday sayings and terminology and decide whether you think it is a load of Codd’s wallop or not!

Nottingham’s Market Square in Victorian times
Using a wonderful array of pictures, engravings, and adverts we go back in time and visit some of the premises and shops that existed back then. Who would you meet? What sounds would you hear? What has changed? Is anything still the same? If you have Nottingham ancestors you will gain a more realistic idea of the Nottingham they knew – it’s almost as good as a time machine!

Victorian shopping in Nottingham
If you came shopping in Nottingham in Victorian times what could you buy, and where? What were the latest fashions in clothes and hats? What could you buy for your home? What could you buy from the chemists? How did some of the shopkeepers market their goods? What services were available? And what did some of the shops look like? All this and more is revealed from old adverts from the time. Fascinating reading!

Guided Walks

(daytime or evening)

I host guided historical walks for groups by arrangement – which can be in Victorian costume on request to add to the effect – weather permitting!

Nottingham City Centre* and/or the Lace Market*

  • In the footsteps of William Booth (Nottingham City Centre and/or Sneinton)
  • Nottingham General Cemetery and the Park Tunnel
  • Tours of various local villages or suburbs, including Sneinton, Bunny, Bradmore, Kinoulton, Hickling, West Bridgford, Edwalton, and Clifton old village
  • Similar guided walks also available for schools.
  • Historical Consultancy Research

    I offer Archaeological and historical documentary research consultancy work also, plus family history research using archives, local studies material, and internet sources.

    Historical Consultancy work has been carried out for the following bodies:

  • Museum of London
  • Ironbridge Gorge Museums
  • Bewdley Museum
  • Nottingham City Museums
  • the Lace Hall in Nottingham
  • Galleries of Justice in Nottingham
  • Newark Museum
  • Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust
  • York Archaeological Trust
  • Pre-Construct Archaeology (London)
  • Nottinghamshire County Council
  • the Heritage Education Trust
  • West Yorkshire Archaeology Unit
  • Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum
  • plus other archaeological units and individuals.
  • The work mainly comprises reports on excavated artefacts, historical research using original primary source archive material and its interpretation, devising educational workshops using artefacts and/or publications for use by schools and other user groups, as well as various local history or archaeological research projects. Many research papers have also been published in a wide variety of local and national archaeological and historical publications covering a wide range of topics within these fields.

    For children's parties with a difference I supply real and replica old fashioned toys and games - including bagatelle, snobs, whips and tops, diablos, zoetrope, skipping ropes, flick books, Jacob's ladders, bar skittles, an old fashioned train set, and much more....plus outdoor games such as egg and spoon races, sack races etc if relevant. Victorian style dressing up clothes also supplied on request, and I come suitably dressed in Victorian clothes and a top hat!


    Below are some pictures of my most popular events.

    Have an enquiry?

    For booking enquiries, or to find out more information.

    Call me on: 0115 9145520
    Email me: historyworkshops@aol.com