For the Great Annual Re-Creation there are three main ways to experience a visit.

There are two set routes;

  • The House Route (which is predominantly set around the Main Hall, its service rooms (bakery, dairy etc) and gardens.
  • The Manor Route (which is predominantly set in and around the barns, grounds and craftsmen on the estate).

On these Set Routes your school-children stay together and visit various locations in a given order. They will be the only ones at any location at any one time.

  • Two days per week we offer Free Route days where groups can wander where they wish. These are on Wednesdays and Fridays.

See our Map of Kentwell Manor for example routes.

For our Michaelmas Re-Creation we only offer one set route which combines the best of the House and Manor Routes.

Which is the best way to visit for my children?
Set Routes are best for younger children and for teachers who want to keep the class together.

The Free Route is best for older children and teachers who have well briefed supervisors and a clear idea of what they want the children to see. These days offer the chance for children to visit whichever places on the manor they wish.

Both of the Set Routes will offer a glimpse of both rich and poor lifestyles.

More detail on Free Route days

On a Free Route visit school parties split down into groups of up to 10 children each with a supervising adult. Each group may then go wherever they choose on the Manor, visiting any of the areas on either Set Route above. They can stay as little or as long as the supervisor may choose at any location and may re-visit it later if required.

A Free Route visit offers teachers the opportunity to take their children to any place and explore themes in more depth. For example they could explore the use of wood and follow its use about the manor, or explore food.

These routes are best for teachers who have been before and can best assess which locations they want the children to visit.

More detail on the House Route

The House Route is based around the Main Hall. Before entering the House, children might perhaps be stopped by the Soldiers at the gate, who will ask their business and teach them about warfare. They might dance with the Low Players of the front lawns or get enticed by visiting Merchants' spiels. Entering the house children will first meet those serving and looking after members of the Clopton family (who built and lived at Kentwell during the 16th Century) and their friends.

Children will get a chance to savour the smells of the Cook's labour in the kitchen, the skills of the Subtelty-makers and the subservience of the Steward, Housekeeper and Pages. Then they will meet the family themselves whose talk will often be of the gossip of the day, whose clothes are lavish and whose entertainments are plenty.

Then out to the service areas, to see the baking of the hundreds of loaves of bread that keep the manor fed and butter and cheese-making in the Dairy. The yeasty atmosphere of the Alehouse, to see ale being boiled and stored to quench thirst and the pungent aromas of potions and lotions in the Stillroom. Outside in the main gardens the Gardeners will be maintaining the herb and vegetable garden, whilst children can spend time with the Basketmakers in the backwoods and the Alchemists (with their curious scientific and not so scientific experiments). Any mishief and they'll be off to the stocks!

Pedlars along the route will sell fruit and biscots (but only for Tudor coin) and children will be able to take a memory of Tudor England back with them down the time tunnel from our market.

More detail on the Manor Route

The Manor Route showcases the life of the wider community that would have supported a manor house such as Kentwell, in the grounds, barns, stables and farm. After persuading the Gatekeeper to admit them the children may encounter a Herald who may design your school a new coat of arms, before experiencing the smells of pottage cooking (the midday meal that kept all on the manor from going hungry).

After marvelling at the skills of the Potters, and having a go themselves, children might see the fires of the Bronze Foundry and then enter onto the Barns sward itself, very much like a village green. Here all kinds of transients may be encountered such as Pardoners (still selling pardons though the practice is much discouraged), Mummers (the lowest of the low presenting ill-prepared plays) or, perhaps, a Sword Master to instruct young gentlemen in that martial art.

Here the poor will be struggling to make their way: Washerwomen will be finding any hedge to dry their washing, and Labourers will pass by with heavy cart loads. Visiting the Hovel children will experience how basic the lowest kind of dwelling could be. But there will be plenty of skill too; Woodturners, Printers and Bookbinders might have found a corner in which to practise their trade. Felters, Spinners, Tailors and Dyers will be busy transforming the wool of the sheep in the fields to cloth.

Animals are an essential part of 16th Century life. Children will see traditional breeds of the day of sheep, pigs, chickens and meet the Ostlers caring for the horses and the Wheelwrights maintaining their carts. There will also be those anxious to make their way up in the world. The Barns School will be teaching poor children, and the children will meet the Yeoman family in the cottage. Visiting Gentry will show of their fine wares, while still suffering the ignomy of not having a room in the house. At the Butts and Forge children may get a chance to practise their weaponry skills.

Pedlars along the route will sell fruit and biscots (but only for Tudor coin) and children will be able to take a memory of Tudor England back with them down the Time Tunnel from our market.

All images and text © Kentwell Hall, Long Melford, Suffolk CO10 9BA