HA Primary Webtrails


HA, last updated: 28th November 2011

Selected Historical Association web trails

The following is just a sample of web trails from the Historical Association website. We offer resources, guides, CPD, information and podcasts on a whole host of curriculum topics. The following selection offers you some well known curriculum topics, plus a few that could be used as alternatives. Simply follow the link to get to the resources. Some of these resources come from our Student Zone and will only be available to primary schools with corporate membership.




Grace Darling


Grace Darling   

The lesson described here is for Year 3, but it could be adapted for a Key Stage 1 class.



T.E.A.C.H On-line - the Historical Association

Many children will be familiar with the story of Pocahontas, and work for this unit will enable them to compare and contrast their existing understanding with historical sources of information, and to reflect on the values and beliefs of a past society. The activities outlined deal with important issues.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: a significant Victorian

Why do we remember Isambard Kingdom Brunel? This is an example of how teachers may choose to adapt an existing scheme to develop a curriculum more responsive to their children's needs and interests. While Brunel provides a focus for study at KS1, KS2 children will also find studying his life useful in developing their knowledge and understanding of ways of life during the Victorian period.


Brunel and Clifton Suspension Bridge

The focus for this literacy hour lesson was a picture, used as a text.

Brunel and Clifton Suspension Bridge: teachers' notes

Brunel and Clifton Suspension Bridge: resources

Sample text: The literacy hour genre was non-fiction. In it, we studied a specific Victorian, the engineer Brunel, and his effect on Victorian Britain. This we introduced through a pictorial text. The Victorian world comes to life through the picture, providing an insight into a Victorian designer's inventiveness.

The commercial architecture of Victorian Liverpool

In 1857, the Builder enthusiastically described the thriving state of architecture on the banks of the Mersey: 'The impression from a walk through the principal quarters of the town, after visiting other towns, is that more [building of a superior kind] must be doing in Liverpool than at any other place in the kingdom, London and Westminster perhaps not excepted. The population is larger than that of any other town ... The funds of the corporation are large, and the taste for architectural display prevails generally.' Earlier that year, the Building News had written in similar terms, observing that whereas in Manchester the warehouse was the most notable building type, and in London the club house predominated, in Liverpool 'piles of "offices", or commercial buildings, have, for some time past, given the largest scope to architectural display.'2 This was a reflection of the supreme role played by commerce in the growth and prosperity of the town.




The tomb of Tutankhamun

How was Tutankhamun's tomb discovered?

Using a photograph as a source of historical information.

The tomb of Tutankhamun: teachers' notes

The tomb of Tutenkhamun: resources 

The tomb of Tutankhamun pupils' work 


Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian civilisation spans 3000 years of recorded history, from around 3000 BC to 30 BC. During that time, and despite changes and variations, Egypt retained a distinctive and continuous civilisation. This was based on a stratified political hierarchy, worship of the pharaoh as a god-king, and belief in a range of shared gods and an afterlife.


Olympics/Ancient Greece


A School Olympics

Sample text: While discussing how we could teach the Olympics to a Year 5 or 6 class, we developed the idea of an Olympic Committee. This could be stretched across the entire school as a short project for the build-up to an Olympic Sports Day. We thought about this further and came up with the following ideas; this isn't a definitive list - just something to get you thinking.


Teaching possibilities: from Plato to Nato

The Olympics historical dimension opens up a plethora of possibilities for history, projects and integrated approaches that draw upon the themes and approaches that underpin the primary school curriculum.


Local history and the 2012 Olympics - Mel Jones

With the 2012 London Olympics rapidly approaching, you are probably marvelling at what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this is, and what amazing classroom teaching opportunities it might bring. Check out this article for some local history ideas.

Investigating the ancient Olympic games: a case study

Sample text: In a ten-week unit on Ancient Greece, we gave the fourth lesson over to the ancient Olympic Games. The class was a delight: 32 enthusiastic Year 6 children in an urban county primary school...

The Berlin Olympics 1936

The Nazi party used the games for propaganda, while hiding its racist and militaristic campaign. The following activities seek to encourage historical inquiry and interpretation, through exploring the Games using De Bono's ‘Thinking Hats' (1985).

An Olympic great? Dorando Pietri

The Italian confectioner Dorando Pietri is one of the most famous figures from the 1908 Olympics - famous for not winning. His story raises issues of sportsmanship suitable for class discussion.

Your Victorian (and Greek!) Olympic Games

The teaching ideas below are adapted from an idea that the great John Fines developed for teaching Ancient Greek science. With active teacher support and guidance, it requires the pupils to use what they know, and their imaginations, to solve a problem: what kind of sports and games might a Victorian town or village have staged in the 1850s, the date of the first Wenlock Olympics?

Think bubble 58

It is a little-known fact that one of the greatest Olympians of all times is not only forgotten these days but his event has disappeared alongside him. I refer (of course!) to the American, Ray Ewry, and his event - the standing long jump. Ewry won gold in this event four times, between 1900 and 1912, and held world records for both the standing long jump and standing high jump. He was its undisputed master until its exclusion after 1912.

Ancient Greece: birthplace of the Olympics - teacher briefing

This is a one-page outline of a wonderful briefing, replete with visual and textual sources and teaching ideas from The Cambridge Schools  Classics Project (CSCP).

Racism and equality through the 1936 Berlin Olympics: the Olympics, nationalism and identity

This article outlines ideas for teaching history with a Year 6 class, with cross-curricular links to citizenship.


Mary Queen of Scots


The Casket Letters

In May 1568, Mary Queen of Scots was riding in fear for her life to the wilds of Galloway. She crossed the Solway, confident that she would receive the help that her cousin Queen Elizabeth had promised her, but instead found herself a prisoner. In the subsequent months, a series of conferences was held in England to determine whether she was guilty of being involved in the murder of her husband Lord Darnley. The main evidence lay in the Casket Letters. In recent decades, studies of the letters and their background have shown that the traditional version of events based on Mary's guilt, must be revised. The following account outlines a realistic revision.


The Tudors


Finding out about Tudor life

Columbus a hero? (discussion and debate) and ColumbusColumbus (story-telling).

Tudor portraits: who am I?

‘Who am I?' What can we tell about this person from the clothes he/she is wearing?

Pupils use pictures and portraits as evidence for the social diversity of Tudor life.

Tudor Portraits: Teachers Notes

Tudor Portraits: Pupils Work

Tudor Portraits: Resources

Pupils write pen-portraits of characters, extending their vocabulary with the help of a glossary.


Tudor tempest

A case-study. The pupils attend a large primary school, where the classes are vertically grouped. The history focus for the summer term was the Tudors, although SATs three weeks into the term meant that the history emphasis was lost for a couple of weeks. Work on the Tudors began with explorations of the Tudor family tree, ascertaining what we knew already and posing interesting questions that we hoped to find answers for.

Tudor monarchy

This topic pack provides a brief summary of the Tudor monarchy.

Tudor society

This topic pack provides a brief summary of Tudor society.

How the Tudors came to power

Sample text: The lessons described introduced a unit on the Tudors through the Battle of Bosworth.

In literacy, we had been learning how to identify key words and use these when writing notes. We had focused on information books, in particular a book about Tudor homes. The children had therefore already come across the idea of taking notes, but were still having difficulty in identifying which parts of paragraphs would count as key information.

Studying the Tudors: Britain and the wider world in Tudor times

This unit gives some ideas to teachers on how to:

a) improve subject knowledge

b) find useful contemporary sources (from Tudor times)

c) link sources with the curriculum and with appropriate activities

Investigating Henry VIII

The lesson required the children to carefully consider their own opinions about Henry and anything that they knew about him. This was followed up by a literacy lesson, in which they used the evidence to express a point of view regarding Henry's suitability for kingship and, ultimately, a whole class role-play, which involved the children in conducting a mock trial of Henry VIII and his actions.

Using websites in Tudor studies at KS2

This article stems from work with a class of Year 4 children on the unit from the QCA Scheme of Work for history entitled Unit 8: What are the differences between the lives of rich and poor people in Tudor times?

Topic book blitz: asking and answering questions and Tudor Britain

The topic book blitz approach, where children freely scan a range of topic books, provides both a marvellous stimulus to curiosity and questioning, and an authentic purpose for using research skills.

The Tudors

An HA podcasted History of the Tudors, featuring Dr Sue Doran, Dr Steven Gunn and Dr Anna Whitelock.

Britain and the wider world in Tudor times

The Tudors ruled Britain during a fascinating and fast-changing century. Europe emerged from the Middle Ages, and Europeans sailed across the oceans, reaching the East, discovering the New World of America, establishing colonies, and circumnavigating the world for the first time (Ferdinand Magellan in 1517, and Francis Drake in 1577-80).

The Spanish Armada

Sample text: This is a highly interactive and stimulating simulation for Years 3 and 4, and a very effective way of involving children in a range of issues.

We introduced the story of the Armada, outlining the main parties involved and the nature of the conflict. We gave the children a problem to solve, taking two perspectives: those of the English and the Spanish.


Revising the English Reformation

In the fifteenth century, the Church in England was one of the most organised, least corrupt, and most genuinely popular in Europe. By the seventeenth century, England was a bulwark of Protestantism, and its political elite showed in 1688 that they would not countenance a Catholic as their king. How this change came about, and what its consequences were for the English people, has been the subject of contention since the Reformation period itself, but over the last forty years this debate has been pursued more systematically, with more shades of interpretation and meaning, than ever before.


Elizabeth I

Susan Doran provides a fresh assessment of one of the most popular of British monarchs. The Armada Portrait is deservedly the most familiar icon of Elizabeth I, presenting as it does an image of the queen that has been assimilated into one of England's most enduring historical myths. Resplendent in her pearls and bows, Elizabeth stands imperiously as the Virgin Queen, whose political power is closely linked to her personal celibacy; note for instance how a white bow and giant pearl are prominent in the position where a codpiece would be placed on a male in order to display his virility. While depicted as remote from her subjects, Elizabeth is also represented as sharing their aspirations; with her hand covering the Americas on the globe, she proclaims England's imperial ambitions, an intent made possible by the strength of her navy...


Analysing portraits

Examination of what to look for when analysing portraits.


The Elizabeth I Rainbow Portrait: on display at Hatfield House

This is a portrait of Elizabeth I. Clearly, this portrait was commissioned by either Elizabeth or an advisor. The majesty and symbolism in this portrait is designed to dazzle, inspire and intimidate various audiences. This is also a secondary image. There is no way that an artist painted a posing Elizabeth clutching a rainbow. More seriously, this portrait was painted in or around 1600 when Elizabeth would only live for three more years, putting her in her late sixties. Yet the queen's face is ageless, beautiful and perfect. This painter was either working from a basic model of the queen's face or looking at an older portrait to project only her beauty and majesty, like a Tudor version of magazines air-brushing pictures of celebrities! To put this portrait into the context of the time, the Queen's forces had successfully defeated King Phillip II's Armada twelve years earlier, an astounding victory for the English. Meanwhile, Elizabeth declared her power to agree or disagree to anything Parliament did, and the Irish Rebellion was soon to be quashed. Elizabeth had remained married only to her people and the Church of England grew stronger. This was the golden age of Elizabethan England, the ‘good times' so far removed from the broken country she had inherited four decades before.

This portrait, the ‘rainbow portrait' of Elizabeth is riddled with symbols.


The Establishment of English Protestantism 1558-1608

The Reformation that Queen Elizabeth and her ministers created was a series of acts of state, but if we consider it only at the level of official hopes and pronouncements, we will paint a picture of hopeless unreality. For the Reformation to succeed, the government needed to follow up its enactments with the tedious minutiae of enforcement. It needed to inform and persuade as well as order; it had to work to find allies and identify obstacles to its plans. Although official coercion could have formidable and cruel, Elizabeth's ministers and bishops often displayed the recognition that a struggle won by persuasion was both cheaper and more effective than one achieved through fear.


A mid-Tudor crisis?

This classic pamphlet takes you through the mid-Tudor period focusing on foreign affairs and finance, the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland, the risings of 1549, coups and commissions 1549-53, Edwardian Protestantism success and failure, Mary and the Catholic Restoration, the Marian Administration and the Spanish Marriage.


The Jesuits and the Catholic Reformation

The society of Jesus, formally approved by Pope Paul III in his bull Regimini Militantis Ecclesiae of September 1540, was one of many new religious orders of men and women - such as Barnabites, Capuchins, Oratorians, Piarists and Vincentians among the male orders, and Daughters and Sisters of Charity, Ursulines, Visitation and Mary Ward nuns among the female - that appeared during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They were all, in their different ways, both fruit and expression of that renewal of European Catholicism commonly known today as the Catholic Reformation. The Jesuits were the most renowned of these new religions; whether or not they were as successful as they themselves usually claimed, their Catholic critics often believed, and their Protestant opponents commonly feared is another matter. But they certainly had a resounding impact on post-Reformation Catholicism, on the history of Christianity as a whole, and on the history of the world.


The Tudors

A selection of useful articles.


Tudor government

On 21 August 1485, Henry Tudor won the battle of Bosworth in Leicestershire and established himself as Henry VII, King of England. He had landed in Wales two weeks before, the Lancastrian claimant to the throne against the incumbent Yorkist, Richard III. He had received assistance from Charles VIII of France, and his invasion attracted English support as he marched across the country to his encounter with Richard at Bosworth. In the battle itself, Richard tried to decide the issue by killing, fighting bravely to the last. Bosworth seemed at the time a mere incident in the ‘Wars of the Roses', that great dynastic struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York which plagued England from the 1450s onwards, but nearly 118 years later, on 24 March 1603, Henry's granddaughter Elizabeth died quietly in her palace at Richmond, in secure possession of the Crown that Henry had won so long before. Her successor, James VI of Scotland, acceded peacefully to the throne, riding south to take possession of his new kingdom amidst general rejoicing.


The Reformation

A selection of useful articles and publications on the Reformation.

Francis Drake

Artefacts and art facts: images of Sir Francis Drake

This article reveals the power of the Internet in helping us all, adults and children, to bring portraits like Drake's to life. Follow the links as you read.




The Spanish Armada

This is a highly interactive and stimulating simulation for Years 3 and 4, and a very effective way of involving children in a range of issues.

We introduced the story of the Armada, outlining the main parties involved and the nature of the conflict. We gave the children a problem to solve, taking two perspectives: those of the English and the Spanish.


The Spanish Armada of...1597?

Graham Darby gives an anniversary account of the later Spanish Armadas, long forgotten, but comparable in size and as threatening to contemporaries as the more famous Armada of 1588. As every schoolboy and schoolgirl should know, the Spanish Armada set sail in 1588: ‘God blew and they were scattered.' However, what they are less likely to know is that this famous victory (more meteorological than military, if the inscription on the Dutch commemorative medal is to be believed) came at the beginning of a very long war, one that lasted nearly 20 years.




Harold, son of Godwin

To lecture on Harold Godwinson, earl of Wessex, King Harold II of England, in the year 1966 at Hastings is a presumption. We appear to know much about him, and yet in fact there are many gaps in our knowledge. Much information, so plausible at first sight, proves unreliable on closer inspection. Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror are both better subjects for the biographer. Harold had one disastrous attribute - he aroused the partisan feeling of the victorious side. The result is variety and confusion in later assessments. One formidable shadow falls on all recent researchers of Harold - that of the Victorian scholar Edward Augustus Freeman. Freeman's faults are well known, but it is pleasing to see his virtues increasingly appreciated - the ability to tell a fine story, the rhetoric, the breadth of knowledge especially of the chroniclers, the accuracy in citation. But Freeman is at his most unreliable in relation to Godwin and his son Harold. Godwin was credited with the qualities of William Ewart Gladstone - ʻendowed with all the highest attributes of the statesman... the great minister, the unrivalled parliamentary leader, the man who could sway councils and assemblies at his will'. Harold was equally idealised. Freeman's view is summed up in the eulogy, prompted by the thought that Harold may have been buried at Waltham, and that Edward I's body rested on the way south to Westminster.




The resistible rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

Malcolm Crook examines the remarkable ascent to power of Napoleon at the turn of the nineteenth century. The great Bicentenary of the French Revolution of 1789 may have been drawing to a close, but that of Napoleon was about to commence. So this is an opportune moment to present a critical overview of his advent to power at the turn of the nineteenth century, before the commemorative bandwagon really started to roll where we are treated to endless repetitions of the Napoleonic myth. Bonaparte (or Buonaparte, to employ the original formulation of the Corsican soldier's family name, which he altered in 1796) is often presented as the saviour of a France that had become trapped in a revolutionary cul-de-sac, from which there was no escape.


Napoleon: first consul and emperor of the French

Four years after the battle of Waterloo, Richard Whately publicised a philosophical essay in which he argued that there was no real proof of Napoleon's existence. The deeds attributed to him were either so wondrously good or so amazingly bad that they far outran the evidence available to support them; Napoleon was a legendary figure with no more substance than Achilles.

Since Whately expressed these historic doubts concerning Napoleon Bonaparte (1819), a great deal of evidence has been made available to historians. Vast numbers of reminiscences have been published, hundredweights of Napoleon's letters printed, and official records of numerous governments opened up. Yet there is still a regrettable lack of information about some aspects of Napoleon's régime. Meanwhile, more than 200,000 books and articles have been written on the subject, and historians continue to differ widely in their views. The object of this pamphlet is to point out the uncertainties of knowledge and the scope for difference of opinion on some important aspects of Napoleon's rule over the French people.


Wellington's soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars

The war with France, which began in 1793, had moved to the Iberian Peninsula by 1808. 2008 is therefore the two-hundredth anniversary of the commencement of the Peninsular War campaigns. War on the Peninsula demanded huge resources of manpower in order to defeat Napoleon. Consequently, the war witnessed the deployment of eligible males on an unprecedented scale. Even so, the military authorities found difficulty in maintaining sufficient men in the field of combat. This was largely due to the high levels of death, desertion and discharge of soldiers. The urgent requirement of men led the military authorities to utilize the services of Europeans, including German mercenaries. Unsurprisingly, keeping track of the number of fighting men presented a problem. To overcome this difficulty, on becoming Commander-in-Chief of the British army in 1795, the Duke of York, second son of George III, insisted on a system of regimental returns.


Napoleon III and the French Second Empire

The French Second Empire has been variously described as a precursor of twentieth century fascism and a prime example of a modernising regime. Roger Price continues recent efforts to achieve a more balanced assessment, by setting the regime within its particular social and political context. The origins of the Second Empire have to be searched for in the ruins of the First. As a result of his family background and upbringing, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte possessed an intense sense of personal destiny. As heir to the glories of the First Empire, he saw himself as the incarnation of patriotic unity. His mission was to eliminate the political divisions created by the French Revolution. He combined a conservative belief in the need for strong, centralized government as the means of safeguarding social order, with a commitment to the principles of 1789, to legal equality and to popular sovereignty. Through periodic plebiscites, the people would be called upon to delegate power to the Emperor and to legitimise his authority. Internal and external policies would be closely related; rejection of the 1815 Peace of Vienna was to be the essential means of reinforcing both the legitimacy of a restored empire and the glory of France.




The British Empire 1800-present

An HA podcasted history of the British Empire 1800-present, featuring Dr Seán Lang of Anglia Ruskin University, Dr John Stuart of Kingston University London, Professor A. J. Stockwell and Dr Larry Butler of the University of East Anglia.

Victorian Britain and the Victorian world

An HA on-line CPD unit.


What the Dickens? Some views of the Victorians

This article offers a few thoughts on the Victorian period, which may be of help in teaching the Section 11a (Victorian Britain) module of Key Stage 2. The example given in the National Curriculum document, although interesting, appears to favour a Great Men and Women approach to the period, satirized as long ago as 1918 by Lytton Strachey in Eminent Victorians. This article aims to suggest some alternative pathways, and sources for them that pupils (and teachers) may find stimulating and relevant.


A load of rubbish: using Victorian throwaways in the classroom

There are many effective ways of using artefacts and resources for the Victorians, but how many teachers have considered using the rubbish that the Victorians literally threw away? This material can cost nothing or be very cheap to resource, is a direct link with the past, and, even better, it is even possible for children to find some of this material for themselves. Thus children can actually become archaeologists, which in turn inspires and motivates them to be much more aware of the past around them. The material in turn can be studied in a variety of ways, and there is also considerable potential for cross-curricular activities.


The Victorians

This topic pack provides a brief summary of the Victorians.


The coming of the railways - fire-breathing monster or benefit to mankind?

Today, children regard trains as just another not very exciting means of travel, but to many early Victorian people, the thought of riding on a train was as alarming and exciting as the idea of space travel is today. To be whisked along at the incredible speed of 30 miles per hour behind a machine belching smoke and soot through tunnels and over bridges was a novel and unsettling experience.


How cruel were the Victorians?

This unit centres on Victorian crime and punishment.

While some factual knowledge about crime and punishment in the period forms an essential component, the main focus is on testing the validity of the popular interpretation that Victorians were cruel, by reference to original evidence and information about famous reformers.


Victorian Life: clothes

An exploration of Victorian clothes - for rich and poor people - for upper KS2 pupils. The text briefly sets the context of the Victorian period, and uses examples of famous people - Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, William Gladstone - to show how clothes changed throughout the reign of Queen Victoria. There are plenty of illustrations, although photographs may be more helpful than the paintings in showing what people wore. The photograph of a lady being helped into her crinoline dress, used on the cover, is bound to get children talking! The first-hand accounts of life and dressing for dinner are fascinating, as is the extract from the Duchess of Marlborough about needing 16 different outfits for a four-day visit to friends! A useful library source, pulling together a variety of resources that bring to life the 'ordinary' aspects of the Victorians. Teachers will find much here to use with pupils.


Victorian Britain - lessons

You could start the Victorians with a story.

See the Victorian chimney sweep short lesson exemplar and the Upstairs Downstairs story in the History section of the Urban Spaces material.


Victorian Britain: a brief history

The nineteenth century was one of rapid development and change, far swifter than in previous centuries. During this period, England changed from a rural, agricultural country to an urban, industrialized one. This involved massive dislocation and radically altered the nature of society. It took many years for both the government and people to adjust to the new conditions.


Cholera and the fight for public health reform in mid-Victorian England

Of the many social changes that occurred during the Victorian age, public health reform is widely agreed to be one of the most significant. In the early Victorian era, the vast majority of Britons drank water from murky ponds and rivers, carried to their dwellings in buckets, and their excrement was deposited into the streets and paths outside their houses. By the end of the century however, piped water from wells or lakes was widespread in all but the most rural areas, as was the disposal of urine and faeces by comprehensive systems of sewage pipes.


The Great Exhibition

‘Of all the decades to be young in, a wise man would choose the 1850s' concludes G.M. Young in his Portrait of an Age. His choice is understandable. Historians and contemporaries have long viewed the middle years of the century as a ‘plateau of peace and prosperity', an ‘age of equipoise' and domestic accord. There is little consensus on the factors that fostered the relative quiescence that is best labelled ‘social stability', and rancorous debate on the contribution of the Great Exhibition of 1851 to this mid-Victorian unity.


The urban working classes in England 1880-1914

On reading the title of this article, any reader at all familiar with the social history of late Victorian and Edwardian England is likely to think of the revelations at the time of the extent of urban poverty. Two major enquiries, one into London poverty, and the other into poverty in York, caused considerable stir and much discussion, leading ultimately to the Liberal social reforms of the period 1906 to 1914. Yet at the same time, there was a general awareness that times were actually getting better for the bulk of the urban working classes, and their standard of living was rising. How then are these two historical phenomena to be reconciled? What balance can be struck between them? The aim of this essay is to examine the nature of each development, and to assess their relative importance.


The evolution of the British electoral system 1832-1987

During the last 20 years, our perspective on the great Victorian question of parliamentary reform has noticeably changed. We have acquired a comprehensive picture of the organization and political socialization of those who won the vote, and some interesting debates have developed about the social characteristics of the electors and non-electors in terms of their social class, their sex and, most recently, their age.

The most striking result is that it is no longer possible to regard the Third Reform Act of 1884 as the climax, let alone as the conclusion, of the process. Significant reform legislation has punctuated the twentieth century - in 1918, 1928, 1948, and as recently as 1969.


Pleasure piers: a sign of Victorian exuberance

October 2010 was a memorable month for England's historic pleasure piers. Early in the month, fire ravaged Hastings Pier, to the extent that there is some doubt as to whether it can be restored, but, by contrast, at the end of the month there was the delightful news that the Grand Pier at Weston-super-Mare, previously fire-damaged, had reopened at a refurbishment cost of £39million.

What happened at Hastings, however, is highly significant. This was one of the fourteen piers designed and constructed by Eugenius Birch, the most prolific, by far, of the pleasure pier engineers. And in 1872, Hastings Pier was the first ever pier to be designed with a pier-head structure, its theatre. 


Queen Victoria as a politician

Even if Queen Victoria had not presided over the achievements of the age that bears her name, her career would still hold a fascination for the historian. She was, for one thing, the solitary woman in a male political world. She was possessed of a personality at once perceptive and simple, emotional and level-headed, quotidian and imperious. And she was passionately engaged in the political life of her nation for 64 years, longer even than her most venerable ministers - to whom she was, in Gladstone's words, ‘as the oak in the forest is to the annual harvest of the field.' Any of the above renders Victoria of interest as a political animal as well as a human being. What motivated her? What political influence did she exert? Did she act in accordance with the developing understanding of the monarch's place in the constitution? Was she, politically speaking, a good Queen?


Queen Victoria

Over a century ago, Britain celebrated Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee, her reign having provided 60 years of stability at the height of Britain's imperial power. Dorothy Thompson profiles the woman at the heart of the Empire. More than any other British monarch, with the possible exception of her one-time model, the Virgin Queen, Victoria imposed her personality as well as her name on the 60 years of her reign. At her accession, she presented a total contrast in terms of age, gender, and political outlook to her Hanoverian predecessors. When she died, she was succeeded by a son who represented, in almost every aspect of his life, both a reaction against the canons of respectable behaviour, which prevailed during the later years of his mother's reign, and a rejection of most of her values and her way of life. The throne, alienated and under threat at her accession, was so firmly fixed at the time of her death as a major institution of the British state, that in spite of the growth of republicanism throughout Europe, no modern British political party has dared put its abolition as a serious item on an electoral programme.







World War I


Remembering the First World War

This pack provides a range of historical sources, lesson ideas and activities based on WW1 and appropriate for literacy, history and citizenship at both Key Stage 1 and 2. 


Women in the tramway industry 1914-1919

Rosemary Thacker writes about one unusual area of expansion of war-time work for women in the Great War.


The snobbery of chronology: in defence of the generals on the Western Front

Faced with the testimony of the huge casualty lists of the First World War, the desperate battles of attrition, the emotive evidence of the seemingly endless cemeteries and memorials, the moving war poetry of men such as Owen and Sassoon, and the memoirs of those who fought, it is not surprising that what Gary Sheffield calls the ‘British national perception' is one of a futile war typified by deception, unnecessary slaughter, pointless sacrifice, and ‘lions led by donkeys. A.J.P. Taylor echoed this with his assessment:brave, helpless soldiers; blundering, obstinate generals; nothing achieved.


1914: the coming of the First World War

This pamphlet argues that the outbreak of the First World War represented not so much the culmination of a long process started by Bismarck and his successors, as the relatively sudden breakdown of a system that had, in fact, preserved the peace and contained the dangerous Eastern Question for over a generation. It examines the implications for all the Great Powers of the upheaval that destroyed the balance in south-east Europe after 1912, threatened to destroy the balance in Europe altogether, and led the Great Powers into war in the summer of 1914. It also analyzes the factors - diplomatic, military, economic, social and domestic-political - that lay behind the decisions of that fateful summer.


What did you do in the Great War? A family mystery explored

Sample text: Research into family history is well-known as being likely to dig up some uncomfortable evidence. Nearly every family has had its illegitimate children; nearly every generation has had someone on poor relief. We had both. But more troubling was my recent suspicion that a hundred or so years ago not one but two members of my family had gone through separate love-hate relationships with the British Army.


World War 1 literature

The social and political climate in Britain before the Great War

The start of the twentieth century was an unstable period in British history. Dynamic shifts in political party powers, and public calls for social reform left Britain on the brink of substantial change before the outbreak of World War I.

Literature during World War I

The First World War jolted society into the reality of war, significantly altering the face of literature because it changed the way people thought about life.


The military historian and the popular image of the Western Front, 1914-1918

Ian Beckett reviews recent revisionist interpretations of the Western Front.


The Versailles Peace Settlement: peace with Germany

This classic pamphlet takes you through the Paris Peace Conference and the 'German Question', peacemaking and the Treaty of Versailles, and Europe and the German Question after Versailles.


World War II

World War II medals at KS2 and Remembrance Day

Where World War II took place Case Study

Sample text: I wanted the Year 5 children to understand World War II in a wider context than just the Home Front in Britain.


In my view: why should we continue to learn about the Second World War?

Everyone you know has been affected by the Second World War. The war ended over 60 years ago, but still lives on in people's memories and family histories, in the UK's rebuilt city centres and ‘new towns'. Its effects are still felt in our education, social and health services, as well as the diversity of the many communities that make up the social fabric of our nation.


The impact of World War II on British children's gendered perceptions of contemporary Germany

This article reports some surprising gender-based trends, indicated by a small-scale piece of classroom research looking into incidental responses of Year 6 pupils to the teaching of Study Unit 11b (Britain Since 1930, focusing upon the impact of the Second World War).


Children in the Second World War

These lessons with Year 6 children at a voluntary-aided primary school in Liverpool combined history and literacy.


Evacuees: children during World War II

This was a series of three lessons, completed in the middle of a term's study of the effects of World War II on the lives of children.


Make do and mend

Teaching the history of women in World War II to KS2.


The Battle of Britain

David Field gives a descriptive account of a History Club's project on the Battle of Britain.


Britain since 1930: a brief history

Victorian Britain was radically altered by the continuing Industrial Revolution, changing from a rural agricultural society to an urban industrial one.


The 'era of the dictators' reconsidered

Kenneth Thomson reflects on major aspects of the ‘era of the dictators'.


My grandfather's recollections of the invasion of Normandy

Sixteen-year-old Daisy Black of Newcastle-under-Lyme School in Staffordshire was the Senior Award winner in the Spirit of Normandy Trust Young Historian competition in 2007. Having been judged the winner by the Young Historian panel, the Spirit of Normandy Trustees were so taken with her entry that they gave her an additional award in memory of General Peter Martin, who was one of the heroic force who landed at, and secured, Pegasus Bridge as part of the Normandy Landings in 1944.




The coming of the railways - fire-breathing monster or benefit to mankind?

Today, children regard trains as just another not very exciting means of travel, but to many early Victorian people, the thought of riding on a train was as alarming and exciting as the idea of space travel is today. To be whisked along at the incredible speed of 30 miles per hour behind a machine belching smoke and soot through tunnels and over bridges was a novel and unsettling experience.


Local railway history: using visual resources

Before the 1960s, British Rail's spider-web network of railway lines reached every town and thousands of villages. Where you live would have been within a thirty minute journey from a station. 


A commercial revolution  

The pattern of overseas trade is always in movement: new commodities are constantly appearing, old ones fading into unimportance, different trading partners coming to the forefront. But between the latter end of the sixteenth and the second half of the eighteenth century, change took particularly far-reaching forms. In 1570, England was a country with one major export, woollen cloth, accounting for some four-fifths of the value of its trade, and that trade was nearly all with places on the North Sea or Atlantic coasts of Europe.



Local history  

Doing local history  

An article by John Fiennes.


Children, the internet and local history  

Local historical study in schools has often been restricted to the use of published national documents and data. The Internet shows signs of radically altering this situation.


A local history toolkit

In this short paper, you will discover some of the tools for ‘doing' local history.


How do we ensure really good local history in primary schools?

Primary History regularly contains articles from teachers who have taken some aspect of their locality and turned it into a really good activity. In addition, hundreds of Ofsted reports comment on really good practice in local history, and children and their parents (perhaps, even more the grandparents) have got caught up in an aspect of the curriculum they can relate to in a closer way than most. Despite this, local history's success is patchy, and discussions with a fair number of primary teachers indicate that they find it problematical.


Research the history of the fire service in the local community

Jayne Pascoe, third year BEd trainee teacher, describes the use of the fire service in her assignment on 'exploring an aspect of local history'.


What was it like to live here in the past? Resourcing the local study  

Finding sources for your local study can be a challenge, particularly if you are not familiar with the history of the area around your school.


Planning for local history  

The author writes from the viewpoint of a classroom teacher facing the challenge of ‘doing local history' for the first time.


Roman Empire  

Arms and armour of the Imperial Roman soldier  

This, the first of three volumes, is without doubt a magnificent production. As Professor Giorgio Ravegnani of Venice writes in his Foreword, this is a vision ‘originated in the assiduous evaluation and comparison of finds' in archaeology. 

Romans: a brief history  

Roman power had grown steadily over the centuries until, by the time of Christ, Rome ruled over an empire that stretched north, east and south of its Mediterranean centre. Britain became the westernmost province in this vast empire.

Magic history of Roman Britain  

The Magic History of Roman Britain by Jon Nichol provides a great deal of information about life in Roman Britain in story form. It tells the story of Sam and Jane, two twenty-first century children who travel by magic to Roman Britain, and is suitable for the top end of KS2.

Roman baths

The account tells how a Roman bath house was created in the Reception/Year 1 classroom during a ten-week unit learning about the Romans, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Roman market (KS1 or KS2)  

Shopping in a Roman town.

The End of Roman Britain

Writing poems in the KS2 literacy hour about the Saxon destruction of a Roman town.

The end of Roman Britain: teachers' notes

The end of Roman Britain: resources


The Roman army: spy!  - A case Study  

The Year 5/6 class visited Julius Caesar's camp before he invaded Britain in 55 BC. I wanted the children to get a clear and full picture of what the Roman army was like, before we worked on Caesar's short-lived invasions of 55 and 54 BC and the Claudian conquest of 43 AD.

Celtic Britain: the land the Romans conquered - A Case Study  

Literacy was addressed throughout these lessons: introducing the text and the materials about the island, then working on the production of the travel brochure and other materials. We focused very sharply upon the idea of the travel brochure genre to communicate knowledge and understanding.

Caesar lands  

The class had a clear objective - an understanding of Julius Caesar's landing in Britain, using Caesar's own account in translation. This meant that the pupils had to understand a difficult and challenging text.

The government of the Roman Empire

The government of the Roman Empire, as everyone knows, was autocratic, and, like all autocracies, it was ‘tempered by assassination' or by military revolution.

Roman Britain podcast

An HA podcasted history of Roman Britain, featuring Guy de la Bédoyère.




Grace O' Malley, alias Granuaile, pirate and politician, c. 1530-1603

At Naseby CE Primary School, the excited curiosity of Years 1 and 2 at the prospect of studying an Irish pirate became almost irrepressible when it gradually dawned on them that the pirate was a woman - the fearless Grace O'Malley, also known as Granuaile (pronounced Gran-oo-ale).


Responding to famine: history and citizenship

Using a variety of stimulus material, particularly visual sources, the units encourage pupils to explore the past by examining sources relating to the Irish Famine and the context in which they arose.


The Northern Ireland question 1886-1986

The nature of the rights of majorities and minorities is one of the most intractable of the issues raised by the Northern Ireland question, especially since much depends on definitions.


Irish Unionism 1885-1922

It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of Irish unionism for British and Irish politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


Isaac Butt and Irish nationality

Alan O'Day reviews and reassesses the career of the major Irish nationalist figure before Charles Stewart Parnell. Once the most respected man in Irish nationalist circles, Isaac Butt became merely a footnote in Anglo-Irish history after his death on 5 May 1879. Yet, from the mid-1860s until he died, his name was synonymous with the principal nationalist causes.


The Irish historian's role and the place of history in Irish national life

Dr David Starkey's Medlicott Lecture invites - or rather compels - historians to think about their relationship with what publishers still refer to as ‘the general public'. At first sight, there would seem to be no reason for his concern that this relationship is in jeopardy, or that history is becoming a ‘private conversation among historians'.