Local touch for the Victorians

As a result of his work with schools, local historian Philip Hoare has produced a book called The Ghosts of Netley. As well as being a history of nearby Netley Royal Victoria Hospital, it is very child-friendly, with photographs, poems, stories and drawings, and is suitable as a textbook for young children.

Four years ago, when our infants were studying the life of Florence Nightingale and Years 5 and 6 were studying the Great War, we decided to contact Philip, an ex-pupil, to talk to the children. His enthusiasm inspired and informed them, and the children were enthralled. Not only did they enjoy his talk, but also the visual materials which he brought along.

The children enjoyed his visit so much that they sent him letters and drawings. Encouraged by their response, he visited many other schools in the area.

Two years later, our lower junior department organised an educational visit to the Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley Abbey (near Southampton). The park, which is now managed by Hampshire County Council, is the site of a former military hospital.

The visit was planned to link our unit, the Victorians, with local history.

Philip Hoare met the children in the chapel of the former hospital, the only part of the building still standing. He spent the whole day giving the children insight into how life was for wounded soldiers, and he had many anecdotes.

He certainly stimulated their imagination with his "ghost" stories about Florence Nightingale and other mysterious happenings in the hospital. The children were also invited to participate in the annual Christmas concert held in the chapel.

Philip's enthusiasm and ability to relate to young children helped to bring history alive.

Maureen Herring and Pauline Postlethwaite Class teachers, St Patrick's School, Southampton

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