Last week 24 Year 11 GCSE History students travelled down to London to visit the National Archives and Westminster Abbey.
The National Archives are the official archive of the UK government for England and Wales, and guardian of some of the nation’s most iconic documents, dating back more than 1,000 years.
Once they arrived, the pupils had an induction to the archives and then washed their hands during the process in order to help preserve the original documents that they would be handling.
The morning session explored the question of ‘What was Elizabeth I’s personality like?’ and used original documents from the reign of Elizabeth in order to help explore this. The ‘Tidal Letter’ which Queen Elizabeth wrote to delay her travel to the Tower of London (by writing very slowly so the tide would go out and they would be unable to transport her via the Thames) was a real highlight with many students touching the exact same paper as Elizabeth I had done.
Pupils then crossed London and entered Westminster Abbey to explore the role of Elizabeth’s sovereignty and monarchy. They viewed numerous objects linked with Elizabeth, including the coronation chair which has been used for the crowning of every monarch since 1399!
Elizabeth was no different and while she was crowned at Westminster, she is also one of the numerous monarchs to be buried here alongside her Tudor family in the stunning 16th Century Lady Chapel. Pupils were encouraged to think about the function of this special building and what it meant to Elizabeth.
The trip gave a real insight to the work historians do and how such differing views and interpretations can be taken from the exact same piece of evidence. Such skills will be vital for the students to continue to develop as they head towards the final exams and beyond in constructing arguments and analysing primary source material.