Pre-historic cupboards


There is something very satisfying about tidily putting things away as Mrs History has been doing with our new storage cupboards recently.

The occupants of the eight stone built neolithic houses at Skara Brae, Orkney had stone-built pieces of furniture, including storage boxes, cupboards and dressers.  One of the houses has small cubicles, possibly for the storage of tools such as axes and other flint items – an early shed perhaps!


Furniture at Skara Brae

Photo by Wknight94  via Wikimedia Commons

Five thousand years on our houses may have changed a bit but the basic principles of what we furnish them with have stayed much the same.

Mrs History Stone Age to Iron Age sessions are an ideal way for children to understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, similarity, difference and connections.  Contact us for more details.





Vercingetorix Surrenders

Vercingetorix throws down his arms at the feet of Julius Caesar, Lionel Royer (Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Today, Vercingetorix is regarded as France’s first national hero.  The Celtic leader of Gaul brought together a number of Iron Age tribes to defend the land against the powerful Roman Army under the leadership of Julius Caesar.  Following a number of separate battles and skirmishes the two mighty leaders faced each other at the fortified settlement of Alesia.  The Romans had prepared deep fortified trenches and then settled in to await the Celts inside Alesia to run out of provisions.  On the 3rd of October 52BC, the Celts surrendered.  Vercingetorix put on his best armour and rode out to the Romans where he sat at Caesar’s feet ready to face his fate in Rome.  He died there around 46BC.

To discover more about a Mrs History session that explores the Iron Age, Celts and the Roman Empire contact us at



September in glass


Painted glass window at Strawberry Hill House

This wonderful illustration of the month of September was spotted on a recent visit to Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham.  Walpole described this wonderfully eccentric building, with its incredible interiors as,

a small capricious house…built to please my own taste

A visit to Birmingham Cathedral reveals some breathtaking examples of stained glass a bit closer to home.  The Edward Burne-Jones windows will be the main focus for Heritage Open Day at the Cathedral on Friday 9 September and Mrs History will be there to help visitors create their own window hanging to bring some autumn colour into the home.

For further details:


Small but significant reminders of the Somme


Shrapnel balls from the Mrs History Collection

Placing a few small metal balls in a child’s hand generally raises very little interest to start with.  However, when we tell them they are 100 years old, discovered by a farmer in his field somewhere close to the River Somme in France, they become objects loaded with poignancy.  Shrapnel balls were responsible for destruction, injury and death on an unprecedented scale. Over 1.5 million shells were fired at the German lines in the week before the 1st July 2016 and 100 years on these small but significant objects act as powerful reminders of The Battle of the Somme.  Contact us for information about a World War 1 session for your school.


Detail from Aston Parish Church War Memorial, Birmingham

Delivering History on your Doorstep!


It’s been a busy year so far for Mrs History, two history buffs who bring the past alive for schoolchildren.  They have worked with over 500 pupils across Solihull and Birmingham and devise engaging and creative learning resources to bring the past to life. They use real objects and real places to show pupils that history is something you can hold in your hand, or experience on your street – wherever you live!  Knucklebones from sheep are used to demonstrate Old Toys,  animal sinew and bone to show how our prehistoric ancestors hunted, and ground spices and herbs to discover the world of Mary Seacole. Children dress up as characters from the past in order to “walk in their shoes”.

Recently, the new National Curriculum has required schools to teach Local History to pupils between 7-11 years of age. Mrs History have assisted a local Primary School by piecing together a history of the school’s neighbourhood and the wider borough. The result is pack of stories, pictures, discussion topics and ideas which can be used in the classroom. The children themselves become Street Detectives and Mrs History leads the children on a walk of their locality to discover clues and uncover secrets of the past!

“History is on our doorsteps, on our street corners and in the memories of family members” enthuses Mrs History’s Rachel “once you know what to look for you can discover tales from the past all around us!”

Mrs History’s  guided walks for schools use nearby buildings, landscape features and even post boxes!

They  build up a picture of life in the past and guide the children to explore the history of their locality. “Suddenly things we pass every day took on a new meaning!” reports a school governor joining the walk.

From ancient arrowheads to little known histories of Solihull, from street names to shrapnel, Mrs History is igniting interest for a new generation of eager historians on our doorsteps.



Notes to Editors:

  • Mrs History is Rachel Hunter-Rowe and Jane McArdle, Museum Curators and Heritage Managers with over 40 years of combined experience in presenting historic properties to the public. They are now focused on schools and are passionate about making the past relevant, fun and fascinating to today’s schoolchildren and giving pupils the tools to discover their own histories.
  • Jane McArdle
  • Rachel Hunter-Rowe

Humorous Humours

We are looking forward to our The Good The Bad and The Yucky event at Aston Hall Museum, Birmingham in the summer holidays.  Mrs History Jane and Rachel will be competing for who has the baddest, best or yuckiest historic object to show the visitors – audience participation mandatory!

Hippocrates of Ancient Greece believed that people could be put into four categories, each with a different temperament: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic.  These were represented by a yucky liquid from the human body called humours: blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm.

Which emoji character do you think represents which humour?! 😊😡😐😟

Join us at Aston Hall on the 24 August 2016 @AstonHallMuseum @BM_AG.


Pillars of Society

The first four pillar boxes in Britain were installed on this day in 1852.  They were erected in Jersey to solve the problem of collecting mail on the Channel Islands.  The idea came from the novelist and post office work Anthony Trollope who had seen a ‘letter-receiving pillar’ in Paris.

A red fluted pillar box with Queen Victoria's initials and a crown in gold paint.

A fabulous Victorian pillar box in Warwick.

Pillar boxes, with their royal monograms, are a Mrs History favourite when looking at the local history of an area.  Contact us to find out how Mrs History can provide local history sessions for your school.

Toys from the past

A single chess piece holding a shield and sword

‘Beserker’ rook from the Lewis Chessmen By Rob Roy (Flickr: Beserker, Lewis Chessmen, British Museum) 

The Lewis or Uig Chessmen were discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  The group of 12th century chess pieces are made from walrus ivory and likely to have originally come from Norway.

Local legend has it that the person who found them in a sand dune in Uig Bay ran away terrified he’d disturbed an group of elves!

The chess pieces, with their beautifully expressive faces, can today be seen in the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland.

For a lively, hands on session exploring old toys and games contact Mrs History for further details.


Old manuscript image showing Richard on a throne while an attendant pours liquid over his crowned head

A 13th century chronicle depicting Richard I being anointed during his coronation in Westminster.

On the 8th September 1157 a third son (Richard) was born to King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.  At the age of 32 he was crowned King of England and Duke of Normandy.  Richard’s fame as a courageous and intelligent military leader lives to this day and he is still more often referred to as Richard the Lionheart than Richard I.  His motto Dieu et mon Droit— God and my Right is still used by the British Monarchy today.  This iconic King has appeared as a character in many works of fiction including Ivanhoe and The Lion in Winter.

Contact Mrs History today for sessions that will support the learning of British History beyond 1066.

Eastern Enigma

On the 9th July 1941, British cryptologists cracked the secret code being used by German forces on the Eastern Front.  Although messages sent via the famous Enigma machine had been broken previously, this was the first time seemingly unbreakable coded correspondence regarding the fierce ground to air attacks on the Eastern front had been interpreted.

To discover more key moments of The Second World War contact Mrs History.  We can deliver sessions on the war itself or work with you to find out about the impact of the war on your local area as part of a local history topic.

A close up view of rings from an Enigma machine, with alphabet letters on them

Enigma rotors with alphabet rings