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In this activity, pupils will investigate the homes and lifestyles of the rich merchant classes. There are two possible tasks:

To draw up a programme of indoor and outdoor activities suitable for guests staying at a Tudor or Stuart country house.
To produce an illustrated inventory of a Tudor/Stuart living room.


KS2 - Britain and the wider world in Tudor times
KS3 - 1500-1750
QCA Links
'What were the differences between the lives of rich and poor people in Tudor times?'


Here you will find some ideas to help you prepare yourself and your pupils for the visit to the Museum.


We strongly recommend that you visit the Museum prior to bringing your class. This will give you a much clearer idea of how you can use the galleries. We suggest that you familiarise yourself with the spaces in the Tudor and Stuart galleries and the route to them from the Exhibition Road entrance. Spend some time studying the Tudor and Stuart displays and explore some of the gallery interactives. These have not been designed for use by school groups but you might find them useful for supporting information. Look at the following:

Explore the More family portraitGallery 58
Handling collection - Dressing the Great Bed of WareGallery 56
Country houses filmFilm Rooms in Galleries 56, 122
Rebuilding the Melville Bed videoGallery 54
Object in focus video:The Great Bed of WareGallery 57
Object in focus video:Martha Edlin's casketGallery 56

Decide how long you are going to spend in the Museum and which galleries you are going to use. This activity is based on the British Galleries and the museum tasks have been designed to take half a day.

To find out more about Tudor and Stuart times and view some images see supporting information.


There are two suggested tasks for this activity. Each focuses on a slightly different aspect of the Tudor and Stuart displays.


Programme of activities

Pupils will research popular pastimes and leisure activities and use their findings to produce an entertainment programme.

Ask pupils to research indoor pastimes and outdoor activities popular in the Tudor and Stuart period.

Discuss the nature of these activities. How different were they to pastimes popular today?



Pupils will find out what houses were like in Tudor and Stuart times. They will use the information they discover to create an illustrated inventory of a Stuart room based on the Bromley-by-Bow Room at the V&A.

Discuss with your pupils what an inventory is and show a copy of one if possible. Extracts of these can sometimes be found in history textbooks. Pupils could think about the reliability of inventories as evidence.

Talk about the kinds of houses people would have lived in 400 years ago and the differences in lifestyle between rich and poor. (Note that the V&A's displays concentrate on the rich merchant class).

Ask pupils to think about the type of furniture people would have had, what it was made of and what it looked like.


Find the Tudor and Stuart galleries. The displays relevant to these activities are:

Achieving Splendour 1500-1600 Gallery 58
The Bromley-by-Bow Room
(see in particular the Bradford Table Carpet
which has illustrations of different leisure activities)
Gallery 58
Birth, marriage and death 1500-1700Gallery 58
Textiles in the home 1600-1700Gallery 56

A At the Museum, pupils should use the displays to research examples of pastimes and leisure activities. They should use the worksheet provided to make notes and drawings on the different indoor and outdoor activities enjoyed by rich people living 400 years ago.

B Pupils should use the worksheet available on this site to make a detailed list of the objects, furniture and furnishings in the Bromley-by-Bow Room. It would be a good idea for pupils to work in pairs or small groups to share this task. They could take photographs and/or make drawings of the objects in order to gather all the information they need to produce their inventory.

The class should already have been briefed on the task and should be ready to start when they get to the Museum. It will be much easier for your class to navigate the space if they are divided into small groups, each with a helper, and split between the tasks.


Using all the ideas and information gathered at the Museum, pupils will now complete the tasks.


Pupils should imagine that they own a great house and lands like the one shown in the Bradford Table Carpet. They are inviting a group of friends for the weekend and should draw up a programme of indoor and outdoor activities that they will offer their guests. They might list the objects that would be needed for each activity.

Discuss the evidence gathered at the Museum and what more needs to be researched. For example, pupils could find out about the roles of servants and other estate workers who would have been involved in the preparations for a country house weekend.


Pupils should produce illustrated inventories based on the research they carried out at the Museum. They could experiment with using quills to produce inventories with an 'authentic' feel. They could compare their finished inventories with copies of originals.

Discuss the reliability of the Bromley-by-Bow Room as evidence of what a 400 year-old room looked like. What have pupils learnt from looking at objects that they would not find out from written sources?

Pupils could make an inventory of their own living room to compare with the Bromley-by-Bow Room.


We are keen to get your feedback on this activity as well as any suggestions for other ways of using the British Galleries. Use the online evaluation form here

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