A nice little urner
Tudor People is a thoughtful and enjoyable study pack which rests on a triple foundation. There is an attractive set of eight posters for the classroom wall, comprising not just the expected Hatfield portrait of Elizabeth I and Holbein's grouping of the More household but items such as a commemorative stamp of the Rose Theatre, a reconstructed dairy from a stately home and a Victorian academy painting of Drake receiving the Spaniards' surrender. Rather than a simplistic version of "what it was like then", children are shown a set of contrasting images of what people have made of it afterwards.
Patriotic sentiment, romantic distortion and archaeological devotion are all part of our sense of who the Tudors were.
This intelligent eclecticism is continued in the excellent teacher's guide. It is full of photocopiable worksheets and copious amounts of background information and supportive suggestions.
There are activities involving the completion of sentences, the supplying of reasons, the drawing of inferences (such as examining a will to work out who lived in a farmhouse), the class-ifying of kinds of evidence, the comparison of portraits with verbal descriptions, and the noting of changes in fashion.
Four bright booklets supply lots of pictorial and written evidence from memorial brasses, houses, travellers' tales, prison records, medals, statues and much more. We spend time with a nun, a servant, a surgeon and an actor, as well as several generations of the More family. We enter the lives of gentlefolk and vagabonds and also think about the nameless dead and their long-vanished graves.
Compact books as good as these remind us of Donne's observation that a well wrought urn is as fitting a memorial as a half-acre tomb.