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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Key Stage 2

Archives are a fantastic way to help Key Stage 2 children understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of sources.

All of our workshops can be customised and adapted so that you and your class get the most from the session. We can even adapt sessions for different age groups entirely, so why not have a look through the lists for other Key Stages?

For further information on any of these workshops, or to discuss building a new workshop to meet your requirements, please contact us.

Medieval and Tudor Durham

The Other King John Charter

Close up of King John Charter (D/St 1/3/1)
Magna Carta was far from the only charter issued by King John. This workshop looks at a local example and explores what we can learn from these fascinating documents about real people who lived in Medieval Durham.

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066.

Northern Rebellion

Map of Tudor Durham (D/CL 23/11)
Create a Tudor 'character' based on a real person who lived in Tudor times and experience the Northern Rebellion of 1569 through their eyes, including roleplay with costumes. Will you choose to join the rebels? You'll need to be prepared to face the consequences!

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

Plague comes to Durham

List of people killed by plague, 1597 (DCRO Ref: EP/Du.SN 1/2)
What happened when the dreaded plague hit Durham City in 1597? Find out about some of the people who died and how the sick were isolated, using role play with costumes to put yourself in their shoes.

National curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066


Victorian Children

Rich Victorian boy in carriage with his family
Where did William Laws start work at the age of eight? What was it like? Why did eleven year old Jane Gribbon end up in the workhouse? Who was Henry Fell Pease and why did his father keep a diary for him? Find out about Victorian Durham by investigating the lives of four children who really lived there, using records from the time.

National curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond

First World War

Local Men in Flanders' Fields: Tracing a World War 1 soldier

Soldier writing a letter in a trench
Explore World War 1 through the eyes of a local soldier. What was his life like before the war? What happened to him? Find out using the Census, army records and photographs. The sources used will vary according to what survives for each soldier being investigated. Our archivist will liaise with the class teacher in selecting the soldier and your input is welcome.

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

Remembrance Cards

Certificate for service in First World War (D/DLI 7/227/18)
Who are 'the fallen'? This workshop puts a human face on remembrance by using photographs to explore the stories of some local soldiers. Find out where they came from, where they fought and where they died, then design a remembrance card for them. Some schools have used the results to make a beautiful display!

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

War Horse: a real local story

At the start if the First World War, George Thompson was collecting horses for the war effort. He took a horse from his owner in Newcastle and promised to keep him safe. This workshop investigates the story of George and the horse he cared for using his memoir and photographs. Find out how they survived fires, gas attacks and disease. Did George keep his promise and bring the horse back home safely in the end?

If you're interested in George's story, you can find out more about him on our Durham at War project website, including a full transcript of his memoir.

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

Second World War 

Aycliffe Angels: munitions workers in County Durham

Munitions worker at a machine
Who were the Aycliffe Angels? What was it like to work in a munitions factory in World War 2? Our workshops use photographs and first-hand accounts of life at ROF Aycliffe to help children to answer these questions and ask some more of their own.

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

World War 2: The Home Front

WRVS volunteers at a field kitchen (D/DLI 13/3/113 (3))
Explore the Home Front through the eyes of real people. Use archives to investigate people who lived in County Durham and did something different to help the war effort. What can you find out about their story?

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

Local History

The Miners' Strike, 1984

Families protesting during Miner's Strike, 1984-85
What was it like to be a child during the strike? Why was there a strike? What happened? Use photographs and other records to answer these questions and any of your own, then make your own poster to support the strike and even take part in a march!

National Curriculum link: Extends chronological knowledge beyond 1066

Local history: our story

Map of Shadforth, c. 1850
What did your local area look like in Victorian times? Who lived there? This workshop uses maps, photographs and the Census to answer these questions and find out how your area changed over time.

National Curriculum link: Local history study

Something a Little Different 

Jimmy Durham

Jimmy Durham as a baby (D/DLI 7/194/1)
Jimmy was a Sudanese baby adopted by the Durham Light Infantry in the 1880s. How did the regiment come to adopt a baby? What happened to him as he grew up? Use photographs and diary extracts to find out and uncover Jimmy's fascinating story.

Something a little different! Jimmy's story raises all sorts of thought provoking questions and is an ideal way to explore issues of race or attitudes to children in areas of conflict. The approach and focus of the workshop can be altered based on your requirements.

Make your own Charter

Illuminated letter 'G'
Investigate medieval writing using real life examples and have a go at being a scribe yourself, complete with quill pen! Then use your new found skills to create and decorate your own charter.

Something a little different! Tailor this session to your own requirements. Inspire the children to create a great display or use it in relation to work on Magna Carta or the Lindisfarne Gospels.


All workshops must be booked in advance.

The cost will be £100 for half a day of workshops. Within this time, we can deliver the same workshop to different classes, different workshops to different classes or work with smaller groups according to your requirements and the age and ability of your children. The length of sessions can be altered to fit your needs.

Sessions can be delivered at the Record Office in County Hall or at your school. Visits to the Record Office allow students to see our strongrooms and original documents. In order to protect the records we care for, we use high quality copies for visits to schools.

All of our sessions can be customised to your own needs. We can even design a workshop just for you! Please contact us to discuss what you need.