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Students’ Game of Thrones-style reenactment brings medieval history to life

PUBLISHED: 17:30 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:09 19 December 2018

Peta-Anne McIntosh (18) from Wymondham High School chats to a soldier during the Game of Roses event in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Peta-Anne McIntosh (18) from Wymondham High School chats to a soldier during the Game of Roses event in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Archant

On the surface, an A-level history course in Norfolk and hit HBO series Game of Thrones have little in common.

But one inventive teacher has brought them together to immerse his pupils in the intrigue and mind games of a medieval feud.

Sixth form history students at Wymondham High Academy have recently been studying the War of the Roses, which eventually saw Richard III dethroned and replaced by Henry VII, the first of the Tudor dynasty.

To help his students understand the intricacies and political manoeuvring which surrounded the conflict, head of history Duncan Rowe devised the Game of Roses – a reenactment placing more than 60 people into six historical factions who were vying for control of the English throne in 1483.

He worked with Harry Harrold, who has been running live role-playing events for the past 20 years, to create the activity.

Negotiating their way to the top, the various factions mingle at St Martin at Palace church in Norwich. Picture: Neil DidsburyNegotiating their way to the top, the various factions mingle at St Martin at Palace church in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Mr Rowe said: “There were so many groups involved that it is a difficult and controversial bit of history.

“The eight students in each faction have personal ambitions such as marriage for their children of getting a certain title, and a lever they can offer.

“The educational aim is for them to better understand the era and the people and it seems to work. We are taking them out of their comfort zone doing something they may not otherwise have done.

“This kind of learning is popular in Scandinavia but it is pretty unique in the UK.”

Students from Wymondham High School learn through roleplay at the Game of Roses event in Norwich. Picture: Neil DidsburyStudents from Wymondham High School learn through roleplay at the Game of Roses event in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Some 48 students and 25 adult volunteers took part in the two-day reenactment event at the Norwich Historic Churches Trust base at St Martin at Palace Church, where rooms were designated as important historical sites such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.

There were also workshops with experts in medieval weaponry and a talk on the role of women in the War of the Roses from experts with the 600 Paston Footprints project, which is aiming to uncover more of the history of powerful Norfolk family the Pastons.

Student Elsa Taylor, 18, who played Richard of Gloucester (who became Richard III) in the first run-through of the reenactment, said: “The first day was very flustered, everyone was asking me questions but it was so much fun, and the workshops have been really interesting. Their passion for the War of the Roses really rubs off – that is what makes it.”

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