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Living history: back to 1273

The calm tranquillity of Norwich Cathedral's cloisters will be shattered when the cathedral holds its first schools' Living History Week from May 21 to 24. Thousands of schoolchildren will take part in hands-on activities,with costumed actors turning the clock back as they tell the story of some of the momentous events that have taken place in the building.

Three key periods have been chosen to link into the national curriculum - medieval, Tudor and civil war. Each focuses on a key year in the cathedral's history. Pupils will spend two days looking at events in 1273. The previous year, simmering discontent between townsfolk and priory had flared into violent conflict, causing severe damage to parts of the cathedral. So in 1273 the King came to settle the dispute, which led to heavy fines for the townspeople.

Another day is spent in 1549, when the cathedral was the scene of Kett's Rebellion, and more than 10,000 people gathered on a nearby heath to protest against enclosures, sending a petition to the King. The final day returns to Norwich in 1644, when the cathedral was threatened by the arrival of Cromwell's forces.

On each day, actors from Hands on The Past, a living history group that specialises in curriculum-linked presentations to schools, will try to bring the fears, worries, lives and skills of ordinary people vividly to life, with themed activities and stories focused on the key events.

From the moment children arrive, they will be swept into activities. Divided into groups, they will move between actors stationed around the cloisters, listen to their stories and hear their concerns. Some pupils may be recruited as soldiers or monks, try on period clothing, learn a medieval dance or make a candle.

Saul Penfold, tel: 01603 620864. Mandy London, tel: 01508 492487. Email enquiries@, or see Hands on the Past is hosting an event for the public at Norwich Cathedral on Saturday, May 26

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