Year 3 Dover Castle Trip!
If you were in school early on Wednesday morning, then you might have noticed a heightened buzz! The Year Three children were in and ready for their trip to Dover Castle.
The coaches were lined up in the carpark ready to carry all 119 children to the south side of Kent. Having had a preparation assembly, question time and an informative letter for parents, all the children were eager to enjoy the day as much as possible.
When we arrived, the gate keeper welcomed us and pointed us in the right direction. 3CC and 3LJ headed into the Hospital Tunnels whilst 3HH and 3BM were guided towards the offices that led Operation Dynamo, rescuing the British Armed Forces from Dunkirk.
Operation Dynamo 3HH/3BM
As the children staggered down the long tunnels, the light grew dark. Some were nervous, some were excited and all were eager to find out what happened all those years ago. The tunnel led us to rooms where Admiral Ramsey met to discuss the battles occurring in Northern France. We wandered through larger spaces where hundreds of serving military had to sleep, some not seeing daylight for days on end. As videos were played and our guide Rhys informed us, we continued to learn how hundreds of thousands were rescued, British and Allied. The children were enthralled by the retelling of the event and asked question after question.
Hospital Tunnels 3CC 3LJ
As the groups journeyed through the most recently made tunnels, they learnt the fate of an aircraft pilot, shot down from the air, only just still alive. Passing tunnels of stretchers and hearing of injured servicemen the children realised how hard it must have been to work in the dark and cramped conditions. Lights flickered and distant bombs could be heard dropping as the surgeons desperately offered as much care as they could. The children could inspect the surgical tools and examine the cabinets of instruments, I wonder if any of them are inspired to study medicine now? The hospital tunnels offered insight into the diet of servicemen, plates of meat in gravy and potatoes lay ready to be eaten!
Following our tunnel tours we spent some time at the Command Post. Here, the children learnt how to send messages using Morse code, using coloured flags and with moving flags to different positions. They looked through binoculars, across the Channel to Dunkirk, and chatted through a pipeline to send messages to one another. After this we went to the roof and enjoyed the view of Dover and the sun hitting the sea, we certainly lucked out with the weather! The children could see France in the distance and had an excellent view of the famous white cliffs of Dover.
As the day continued the children enjoyed time stretching their legs and ravenously eating their lunches, it was like they’d never eaten before!
Our afternoon was spent touring The Great Tower, built in 1190 and inhabited by Henry II. We visited the main Throne room and were able to sit on the throne. Bradley Biggs was able to explain how the lapis used to dye the paint blue was brought from Afghanistan; all this learnt from his enjoyment of Minecraft….who knew this game taught the next generation so much! We touched the squirrel fur bed cover and heard how the King slept upright, just in case there was an invasion. Behind the thrones was a Chapel, still used annually today, and attached to a small room where the King himself used to sit. The children and Miss Black all wanted a chance to perch where the King had sat! We visited the dining room, and learnt that Medieval Brits didn’t use forks, they ate with their hands, and had their own personal knife to cut up larger chunks of food. The children were gobsmacked when they found out that children of the time drank wine and beer as the water wasn’t clean…they questioned us why this isn’t the case now! At the top of The Great Tower the children enjoyed views of the coast, Dover and the country side.
At the ground level of The Great Tower were the castle’s kitchens. The caldrons were big enough to cook up the children, so long as someone was on duty keeping the fire burning underneath! Giant slabs of animal carcasses hung from the ceiling and a boar’s head was ready to take to the dining room. The children loved stirring the pots, pouring wine from barrels and grinding grains to make flour. Some even picked up the brooms and swept!
Soon enough it was time to return to the present day. We exited the castle over a drawer bridge and retold the day’s events on the coach home. The children’s behaviour was exemplary, the adults accompanying them were so proud, one English Heritage volunteer even commented on how well presented and polite the group was….well done Year Three, you did HBJS proud!