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A whole new ball game

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To interest teenagers in our heritage, York Civic Trust invited all York area sixth-formers to recreate a Georgian ball in the city's historic Fairfax House. As chair of the Trust, I was eager for students at my own school to be involved.

Students were invited to play the part of someone who might have attended such a ball, and those with the time and inclination visited stately homes to research their characters. Experts in the use of the fan taught a small group, who then demonstrated to other students. Georgian card games were learned: "loo" regained its old meaning as the name of a game. Dance teachers taught the minuet and gavotte as well as deportment and etiquette.

It was a revelation for students to learn how formally they would have been expected to behave.

Supper in the elegant dining room added to their appreciation of the period. Two second-form boys from my school were run off their feet as pages and a sixth-form "staff" learned about the hard work of Georgian entertaining.

All the students acted their parts so convincingly that it seemed we were back in the 18th century - that is until one of the footmen looked at his pager to see if Arsenal had scored.

Participating schools were All Saints, Bootham, Fulford, Huntington, The Mount, Pocklington and St Peter's.

Darrell Buttery, English teacher, Pocklington School, York and chair of York Civic Trust

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