School Visits to Ely Museum

Ely Museum runs a wide range of educational activities and events at the museum and around Ely. Further information can be seen below about our service for schools, or click on one of the workshop-pictures below to see details about specific workshops


We offer:

  1. Hands–on discovery workshops for KS1 and KS2 school groups.
  2. Re–enactors, story–tellers and musicians bring learning to life.
  3. Cross–curricular workshops cover history, geography, literacy, citizenship and music.
  4. Half–day and whole day visitis available.
  5. Combined visits with Ely Cathedral, Stained Glass Museum and Oliver Cromwel's House.
  6. Loans boxes and handling objects.
  7. Guided tours run by re–enactors.
  8. To book, or to discuss your specific needs please contact our education officer, Sally Austin at the museum on 01353 666655. See the sidebar on this page for full contact details — ours is a friendly, flexible service!

Toys and Games From The Past

A Hands–on workshop for KS1 — Half day or whole day.

Explore some of the toys our parents and grandparents played with and compare them with toys of today.

Image: Toys our parents and grandparents played with

What are they made of and how do they work? Join in some old fashioned games , play with old and replica toys and see a show performed using the Victorian toy theatre!

Homes Long Ago

Hands–on workshop for KS1 at Ely Museum & Oliver Cromwell's House.

Explore and compare homes from the 17th C and the 1940s/50s

At Ely Museum – Homes when our grandparents were children: Explore a 1950s kitchen and compare it with kitchens today. Do the washing with a tub and a mangle, try out old-fashioned gadgets, lay the table and join in a 1950s picnic tea.

Image: Homes in the 17th Century

At Oliver Cromwell House – Homes in the C17th: Explore the house and especially the kitchen. Dress up in clothes from the 17th century and try out pastimes of the day. Details about the house

Littleport Riots

History, drama & citizenship for KS2 with re–enactors.
Half–day workshop.

Ely Museum is housed in the Old Gaol and in this workshop we revisit the stories of the 1816 Littleport rioters, many of whom were held at the gaol when their demands for " a living wage " to feed hungry families erupted into violence. Five were hanged and others transported to Botany Bay.

Image: Littleport Riots

This session is led by costumed re-enactors and uses role–play. Children witness the emotional last conversation between one of the condemned rioters and his wife, before later questioning one of the magistrates who helped to end his life. This is followed by group discussion and thought tunnel. Examine objects from the old gaol, look at archives & records from the trials and learn about hangings and harsh conditions in a 19th century prison.

Fenland Days or Half–days — KS1 and KS2

Hands–on history and geography workshop With story–teller and musicians. Can be accompanied by basket making or fenland craft sessions.

The unique landscape of the fens is inextricably interwoven with the way people have lived and worked here. Through the use of objects, maps, stories and song we explore what life was like for people living in the fens long ago.

Image: Fenland Days
  1. Listen to fen stories and folk tales.
  2. Dress up and role play.
  3. Draw objects from the museum.
  4. Examine and compare old and new maps of the fens.
  5. Handle old tools.
  6. Visit the wise woman and create a cure for the fen ague.
  7. Learn how to weave and make baskets.

A super mix of fact, fiction, song, artifacts and scary stories!.

Spring Meadow School


Victorian Workshops for KS1 & KS2 Half day workshop with edu-list and singing led by a folk singer.

Image: Victorian Role Play

What was it like for children , rich and poor, in Victorian times?

  1. Dress up in Victorian clothes.
  2. Join in a Victorian washday with Molly the housekeeper.
  3. Learn about boys' lives as chimneysweeps or in the fenland fields.
  4. Take tea in the parlour.
  5. Try Victorian toys & watch a toy theatre show.
  6. Experience the huge difference between the lives of the rich and the poor in role play.

You may wish to give children identities from the 1881 Census. This workshop could be followed by a discovery trail of Victorian Ely, or by another Victorian workshop at the Stained Glass Museum or Ely Cathederal (see below).

Victorian Days for KS1 & KS2

Spend all day in Ely learning about the Victorians, over three different sites:

At Ely Museum: Learn about life for children in Victorian times. Try on Victorian costumes, have a go at doing the washing with a tub and mangle and explore the Victorian parlour.

At the Ely Stained Glass Museum: The stained glass artists of the Gothic Revival produced windows to rival their medieval predecessors, depicting subjects both sacred and secular. But young labourers working in the stained glass factories suffered appalling conditions. See the stained glass and discover how it was produced. Roleplay being a stained glass apprentice with Mr Briggs, the factory foreman.

Image: Victorian Role Play

At Ely Cathedral: In the 1750s the Cathedral was described as shabby and ill–kept by a visitor. The great work of restoring the Cathedral began in 1845 and continued over the next 30 years. Meet some of the characters who worked at the Cathedral at this time. Find examples of Victorian craftsmanship in glass, wood, metal and stone.

Rivers: Water and the Landscape

KS2 - Learn about the River Ouse and the watery landscape of the fens past & present. At Ely Museum With storyteller & musician. Can include River Ouse discovery walk. In partnership with the Wildlife Trust.

Image: Rivers: Water and the Landscape

At the museum: Hands–on activity workshop about the fens and the River Ouse, with stories and songs.

  1. Use maps and objects to find out about the life, landscape & legends of the fens.
  2. Fen stories and songs.
  3. Eels, farming & food.
  4. The fen ague.
  5. Drainage & floods.
  6. Boggarts, bogles & will–o–the–wisps.

At the river: Follow the I Spy photo–trail and discover more about the River Ouse: wildlife and habitat, boats & leisure, measure the river's flow, erosion & transportation and river dipping.
Can include boat trip

World War 2 in Ely

Hands–on workshops for KS2 with drama and role–play.

Image: Children try on gas masks

Workshop A: This workshop tells the story of the evacuation of the Jews' Free School in London's East End to Ely and the surrounding villages at the beginning od the war. It includes:

  1. Role–play and drama.
  2. Try on a gas mask and learn what to do in an air raid.
  3. Meet Dr. Bernstein from the Jews' Free School.
  4. Meet Mrs. Hinton–Knowles from the WVS.
  5. Learn about Jewish customs and culture.
  6. Also meet other characters of the day.

Workshop B: Hands–on activity workshop.

  1. Make do and mend — sew on a button, darn a sock.
  2. Food and rationing — pigs trotters, rabbit pie & nettle soup.
  3. Taste vinegar cake and weigh out your sweet ration.
  4. Make a simple WW2 toy.

Anglo Saxon Day

Three Hands–on history and drama workshops with costumed re–enactors for KS2 at Ely Museum and Ely Cathederal. Set in the inspiring surroundings of Ely Cathedral, we cover:

Image: An Anglo Saxon teaches

Hereward: Dress up as a monk and be part of the drama of the Norman invasion of the island of Ely

Etheldreda and Ely Cathedral: Act out the story of Etheldreda's life and reflect on her choices

Anglo Saxon Life: Hands on a wealth of Anglo Saxon replica everyday objects, from spears to spindles.

Stone Age to Iron Age

Hands on prehistory

Image: Stone age tools

Real and replica objects to handle, dressing up, Stone Age art activity carving and colouring antler. Discover flnt knapping, dyeing spining, weaving and basket making. Have a go at basket weaving with a basket maker.

Gaol and Courthouse

Workshops at the Museum and Ely Magistrates Court.

Image: Ely Magistrates Court

Exciting drama and role-play workshops at the Old Gaol (Ely Museum) and the Ely Courthouse, now open to the public again after being closed in recent years. Drama and re-enactment bring the Littleport Riots to life; mock trials show how cases might unfold in a modern Magistrates Court. Dress up, listen to both sides of the story and debete the past and future of the unique Fenland landscape!

Feast of Fenland

Taste Delicious Fenland Food

Image: Fenland Food

A special workshop all about food and farming in the Fens, past and present. Healthy eating, science, seasons etc

  • Taste delicious fenland food
  • Vist the market stall and take home some locally grown, delicious veg.


Loans Boxes

A selection of loans boxes are available for schools and groups to use within their classroom or meeting room. For further information please contact the Museum.

Tours of the Museum

Tours of the Museum (the old gaol) are also available to any interested groups, by special arrangement. Volunteers and Friends of Ely Museum act as museum guides for special tours, or let the gaoler show you round (if you dare!). The Museum benefits from the expertise of several volunteers who are Ely Blue Badge Guides.