When you were at school, what were your favourite subjects? Mine were music, English, sociology and PE but there were some parts of history that I enjoyed. However, we have a kinda running joke at home about how bad my history knowledge is. Yes, we can all be self-deprecating at times and put ourselves down rather unjustifiably so but I really do mean that my knowledge of history is shockingly bad! I just don’t remember facts. One of my bucket list challenges is to achieve a grade C in GCSE history which I may try to do in 2020 but that will be no easy task!
What’s the best way to learn history? Bring it to life and that’s what I found at last weekend’s trip to Blists Hill Victorian Town in Telford. After an incredible day at Portmeirion on Saturday, I was looking for something that would be near to the hotel in Oswestry and I stumbled across Blists Hill that I must have seen on TV at some point or another. It’s an open air museum where you feel as if you are walking through a town over 100 years ago. The buildings look authentic and in fact at least one of the houses had been moved from 6 miles away brick by brick. As well as houses belonging to people of different classes, there are shops such as the butchers, post office, bank, haberdashery, confectioners, etc. There’s a Victorian school that runs mock lessons once a day for visitors, a pub where you can join the locals for a sing-song, a foundry, a black smiths, a carpenter, ironworks, etc. There’s a playground with a carousel, wooden swinging boats and a coconut shy amongst other exhibits. Plus there are places to eat.
As well as the buildings and grounds, the place is full of actors! So, as you walk into the chemist, there are three ladies busy doing a stock check and getting ready for the day. Now, I was baffled! I wasn’t sure whether they were genuinely busy or pretending to be busy so it was hard to know if it’d be okay to ask questions. In some places, like the photographers and one of the homes, the ladies were really forthcoming and welcoming but, in other places, they were deep in conversation about who knows. The shops are crammed with old-fashioned goods, each marked with the price in old money but also new money. So, were these items for sale? Were they props? Should I even touch them? Who knows!!!! The bobbie (policeman) cycled around on his bike, ensuring that everyone was behaving themselves and asking visitors with dogs if they had a licence, something that was needed in the UK right up until 1987. All the actors addressed each other in a terribly formal way! “Good morning, Mrs Chambers’. ‘Good morning, sir”. It was like getting caught up in a time warp!
Once I got home, I went onto TripAdvisor to write a review and found out something that I should have known before. You CAN buy the goods. In fact, you can convert sterling at the bank into old money and then spend it in the shops! So, perhaps those actors really were doing a stock check after all.
It’s also a super place if you like photography and I thought it’d be fun to publish my photos on my blog in black and white.
If you like history, Telford and the surrounding areas are a fantastic place to go to. I went via Ironbridge, which is a UNESCO site although the bridge is currently covered up because of some work being done to it. But there are lots of museums in the area about technology, engineering, industry, etc.
So, what a busy weekend that was! But lots of fun and I’m already planning my next one in November as I’ve a few more of England’s counties to tick off my list. But before then, hubby and I are off to watch the Russian State Ballet perform The Nutcracker which I’m really excited about as I’ve never been to the ballet.
Where are your favourite places in the UK? I’d love to know as I might tie them in with some trips away.