Trails for Key Stage 3

Abbey as a Place of Christian Worship Trail - Where, how and why do people worship?

St Albans Cathedral is open 365 days a year, but how and why is it used? Using the building as our classroom, the children will explore the Cathedral to learn about the key beliefs of Christian worship, and how the building helps to bring these to life. They will visit the font, altar, pulpit, lectern and shrine, and think about communion, baptism and the Bible, before one of the children is dressed up as the Bishop!

St Alban and the Romans Trail

The year is around 300AD and all is peaceful in the town of Verulamium. Until, one day, a Christian priest comes visiting … Using the Cathedral as our setting, the children will dress up to re-enact the story of Alban, saint and martyr. Along the way they will learn about the history of every day Roman life in Verulamium, and find out how brick from Verulamium ended up being used to make the Abbey 700 years later. For teachers who wish their children to learn about St Alban from an RE perspective, the children can also explore in more detail the growth of the Abbey after his death and how Alban is remembered in the Cathedral today as the first Christian Martyr in Britain.

Before and After the Dissolution

This trail starts with children being put into role as monks in St Albans Abbey in the first half of the sixteenth century. With the help of costume, badges, music and the building itself, the children can begin to understand the life of the cloister and the experience of those who had lived there for all their adult life. But the year is 1537 and change is in the air. Disturbing rumours from other religious houses in England fill the monks with fear and despondency. The group moves round the Abbey looking at the treasury, the nave altar, the wall paintings, statues, glass, brasses, the shrine itself – indeed all those things it knows to be particularly vulnerable.

There is a change of Abbot. Tension rises. The monks are called to an extraordinary chapter meeting and discuss how best to respond to the almost inevitable dissolution of their monastery. A peaceful response is decided upon – the monks remove their scapulars and receive their pensions. The building itself however is treated with violence and experiences dramatic change. It becomes very clear that Henry's longing for a son, his desperate need for money and his interest in the religious reformers of his day have together wreaked havoc on St Albans Abbey and the town around it.

Black Death Role Play

The trail enables pupils to gain an insight into how hard life was to live in town and country during the Middle Ages. It provides opportunities for pupils to investigate the impact of the Black Death upon both the town of St Albans and the monks of the Abbey and the differences in opinions that the resulting conflicts created.

The year is 1349 and through role play pupil's re-enact the extraordinary events that surrounded the Abbey as the plague rages through St Albans. Monks and tradesmen clamour around the door of the Abbey to air their grievances as the newly appointed Abbot, Thomas de la Mare arrives back from his audience with the Pope. He returns to find a picture of disease, death and despair.

Invaders and Settlers Trail: Romans, Saxons and Normans

Since time begun, life in England has been affected by Invaders and Settlers. Using role-play, the children will explore over 1000 years of history. They will start with the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55BC, re-enact the story of Alban, learn about the Anglo-Saxons before finishing with the Norman Conquest and the construction of the church that we see today. The trail will finish with the children using a Roman brick to create a timeline to represent the events they have explored.

Monastery Trail

Imagine as a child in medieval England being sent by your parents to St Albans Abbey to train as a monk? What would you have seen? In the monastery trail, the children will take on the role of a monk and experience their daily life in the Abbey, from electing an Abbot, discussing problems at chapter meetings, thinking about their everyday roles and looking after the shrine of St Alban.

Peasants Revolt

The year is 1381, and the Peasants Revolt is in full swing! Whilst Wat Tyler is marching on London, the people of St Albans are rising up against the Abbot and the Monastery with grievances of their own. What course of action will King Richard take against the rebels? Can the Abbot pacify the crowds until help arrives from London? In this interactive trail, the children take on the roles of a variety of characters from the Peasants Revolt to learn about the events in both London and St Albans, and their shocking conclusions.

Pilgrim Trail

Imagine yourself in St Albans in Medieval times – the town was thriving and the Abbey was the journeys end for thousands of pilgrims – for a while the most important pilgrimage site in Europe! Dressing up in character, with a story to tell and a gift to leave at the shrine, the children will re-enact the why’s and how’s of medieval pilgrimage to St Albans. They will explore the Cathedral building and put into context the significance of pilgrimage to people of that time, as well as thinking about pilgrimage in other world faiths today.

War of the Roses

The War of the Roses had a major impact on English society, and no more so than in St Albans which was the site of the first major battle in the conflict, as well as a subsequent battle in 1461. In this trail, the children will learn about the background to the conflict, before visiting some of the main battles sites in the town centre from both 1455 and 1461, where eye-witness reports will be used to bring the action to life. Finally, the children will return to the Cathedral to explore some of the key places linked to the conflict.  

Please note: This trail involves a 45 minute walk around St Albans town centre. All groups should have 16 children or less, and must be accompanied by at least one member of school staff.

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