things to see at the museum

John French lighting the gas lights in the Wilderspin room

The Wilderspin Schoolroom

The Wilderspin Schoolroom is at the heart of the school. Documents including Wilderspin’s own publications and archaeological evidence were used to recreate the model schoolroom of 1845.

It is set out according to Wilderspin’s specification with tiered seating gallery, teaching posts and even the gas lighting – just as it would have looked one hundred and seventy years ago.

The picture on the left shows pupils from Bowmandale Primary School in Barton-upon-Humber, one of many schools that visit the museum, looking on as the gas lamps are lit to give a taste of 19th century school life.

children having lesson in Victorian Schoolroom

Victorian Classroom

The rooms adjacent to the Wilderspin Infants’ Schoolroom were part of the National School for Boys and Girls. A classroom is set up as it would have looked in the 1890s around the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

The classroom gives children and adults a glimpse of Victorian school life with with authentic and well-used desks, slate writing boards and, of course, the dunce’s hat!

Exhibition Room

Explore our interactive exhibits tracing the life and work of Samuel Wilderspin. Learn about his pioneering methods of teaching and his enthusiasm for play as a means of stimulating children to learn.

Discover how he travelled throughout the British Isles setting up Infant Schools.

Share the experiences of successive generations of children who attended the former Barton Church School, now the home of the museum.

NEW from April 2016 – part of out childhood memories project : Playtime Memories – new displays based on the recollections of play in the street, schoolyard and at home. Children have shared their descriptions of the modern games they play and there is dressing up fun to be had for our younger visitors.
The playtime theme continues outside into Wilderspin’s Playground and a mock up of a street scene typical of towns around the country where children would play for hours.

Things to Do

There is a souvenir guide to help guide your visit. There’s a short video film explaining who Mr Wilderspin was and what his schools were like. There is a wax rubbing trail for children which prompts them to look at the displays and find out about school life in the past as they go – taking a wax rubbing of images as they go. Everything is accessible for children – they can sit at the desks and there are simple activities for them to do in many of them. They can put on Mr Wilderspin’s aprons, and other costume, take a photo of themselves as pupils in the schoolrooms, and try out the slate boards and pencils. A quiz sheet is available for children too. Outside, in the Wilderspin Playground, they can try out some traditional playground toys and the rotating swing.