Victorian Day

Trying to look Victorian with a long skirt went somewhat awry today. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t track down a frilly blouse nor did I have a long black skirt or a matronly apron for that matter. Instead, I opted for my only long skirt which happened to be denim and matched it with a short but pretty blouse from H&M, topped by an empire style cardigan.

Overall, I found myself to be the only one who hadn’t really got into the spirit. All 42 children plus two teachers and two student teachers came either as matrons, vintage school teachers, governesses, street urchins, chamber maids or artful dodgers.

We all went to Michelham Priory dressed like this to take part in workshops teaching us about Victorian times. In the kitchens, the children tried to roll oat grain into porridge oats, ground herbs and spices with pestle and mortar or attempted to shape blobs of butter into more attractive looking cubes or balls using butter bats.

Upstairs, we tried out Victorian costumes, toys, irons, cow bells and other paraphernalia and posed for a toothless picture following the example of a peasant farmer whose diet had been too sugary and who had therefore lost his teeth.

After a lovely lunch in the beautiful big barn and a little play on the lawn next to it, we were taken to the kitchen garden where lots of vegetables, herbs and fruits were being grown. But although the wisteria had just burst into full bloom, it didn’t manage to hide the half naked statue within the arch thoroughly enough, and we constantly had to peel the boys off the girl’s exposed chest…

From there we visited the watermill before admiring the blacksmith who created a fire poke for us there and then: First he made a spiral end as a handle, then he twisted the middle of the metal stick for effect’s sake, and finally he hammered the end into a pointy bit, all within about 10min. The children stood and watched, completely mesmerised.

All in all a brilliant day, and my personal highlight was dressing up as one of the wealthy owners at the farm house which meant propping on bloomers under a hooped skirt which was all covered in a lovely blue dress.

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But even without all these activities the place is definitely worth a visit!

http://sussexpast.co.uk/properties-to-discover/michelham-priory

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