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Hawkshead Grammar School (Hawkshead)

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Museum of the old grammar school in Hawkshead, Cumbria.

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      24.11.2009 20:44
      Very helpful




      When we arrived in Hawkshead we had no idea about what was there. It was quite by accident that we didn't make it to Hilltop and had to spend the day looking around the village so we hadn't thought to look into anything else. So, when I read a sign that said that there was a grammar school where Wordsworth had studied I was quite excited. Who wants Beatrix Potter when you can have Wordsworth? Well, my sisters actually. But I for one was far happier at the thought of visiting somewhere related to Wordsworth and I managed to persuade my sisters (but not my parents) to come along with me.

      Admission was very cheap. It was £2 for an adult and children went in for free so I thought that we really didn't have anything to lose. If it was really boring we could just leave without having lost much money.

      -The School-
      When you first enter the school you are in a classroom. The classroom is exactly how it would have been in the old days. I've just realised that I'm actually not sure exactly what period the recreation is of. The school was open to pupils for centuries so it could have been any century but I would say that it's probably meant to represent a school sometime in the 1800s. Whatever the period it's very interesting to get a feel for how a school would have been. The furniture is all genuine and even has the original graffiti on it! I have heard since visiting that it includes graffiti by Wordsworth but I didn't notice it. I also liked that they had slates on the desk that you could write on. This isn't a very interactive attraction and one of my sisters is only nine so it was good for her to be able to actually do something and not just be dragged around the school.

      From here you go up the stairs where there is a reconstruction of the headmaster's office. I thought that this was really interesting. Unfortunately you can only look at it from the doorway and I would have liked to have gone in and explore but I understand that they were probably trying to protect all of the things in the office. The thing that I really liked about this was that there were so many little details, it almost seemed like the headmaster would return at any minute to continue working in his office.

      From there we went into a room that contained a lot of information. Up until this point I was quite disappointed about the lack of information provided but there is so much information in the upstairs room. The information was quite interesting and very diverse. I read about everything from Wordsworth and his brothers to the staff at the school to Queen Elizabeth (the first one of course). At times though it was difficult to link the information provided to the school, some of it, while still interesting, seemed completely irrelevant. I also thought that the presentation could have been better. It was all on notice boards and looked like a poorly done school display. In fact it was so poorly displayed that I gave up on it in the way and that never happens, generally I will spend hours reading whatever information is there because for me that it is half of the attraction of going to these kinds of places, I like learning new things. In this room there were some artefacts to look at that related to some of the information, for example there was a display about writing instruments. However, a lot of the other information would have been better if it had been displayed in the relevant rooms. For example displaying information about Wordsworth in the classroom or about the teachers in the headmasters office. It just would have made it more interesting.

      There were some really interesting things dotted around the school, I particularly liked seeing the portraits of former teachers and the founder and the letter from Elizabeth I (she's one of my favourite historical figures).

      By this point in our visit I was starting to feel pressured by my sisters who were both incredibly bored. For me the visit was all very interesting but for a nine year old and an adult who wasn't very interested in all of the historical facts just looking around the building was very dull. I was feeling a bit guilty that the visit would be such a waste of time for them both but then when we were leaving the man who works there started talking to us. He asked my sister questions about her school and started telling her things about the school and how the children would have been treated. She loved it! He was so engaging and entertaining (for us adults too). When we left she couldn't stop talking about the school and when we met up with our parents she kept telling them all of the things that the man had told her. He really made a huge difference to our visit.

      Unfortunately this is not accessible to wheelchairs, as far as I could see. I would call them just in case they have a lift hidden somewhere out of sight but it didn't seem very accessible to me.

      I would definitely recommend this but perhaps not for younger children.


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