Tag Archives: History

Summer adventures at Oxford Castle

Though many of us enjoy the prospect of the Summer Holidays, a break in the routine, time together as a family with less pressure whether you stay at home or go away. Days out as a family are a great way to spend time together and learn something too.

As we are such a cultured family, we were thrilled to be offered the opportunity to visit Oxford Castle. It is only an hour from us and we’d not even heard of it before. It is run by the same company, continuum attractions, who run The Canterbury tales experience we visited back in April. http://lingotastic.co.uk/2017/knights-school-and-chaucer-the-canterbury-tales-experience/

We left the car at Thornhill park and ride. and headed into Oxford. The nearest stop to the Castle is Carfax tower.
The castle was a bit tricky to find on foot. We had to rely on Google maps to get there.

The castle has an amazing history, from the Norman keep, the site of the Empress’s escape, the catacombs where scholar Geoffrey of Monmouth taught and penned the king Arthur stories, to the Georgian Prison wing. It is the site of St Georges Chapel where many believe education in Oxford was born 900 years ago.

For hundreds of years, the site has held both famous and infamous residents, serving as a religious site, a home for royalty, a centre of justice and as the County Gaol.

As the Keep has such a long history, there are many people featured in it, and a handful of their stories are brought to life during the entertaining tour.

We arrived a bit early and had time to peruse the shop and cafe. Whilst sat in the cafe the girls did a bit of language spotting. There was a tour going on in Spanish, one in Italian, a group of Mandarin exchange students some French students, a Polish family, a Bulgarian family that we spotted. I was so proud they could identify all those languages.

We’ve visited a few castles in our time but the fact this one had been the site of a prison for 800 years and many executions had happened there made me a bit uneasy. My children are aged 8 and 10 and some parts of the tour made them uneasy, especially the story of the seven year old girl imprisoned for borrowing a perambulator. This tour is suited to older children and adults. The access, (as it is an ancient building) means you need to be steady on your feet to take part. I would not recommend the tour to those of a nervous disposition.

There was some colouring for children in the in exhibition room which the girls did whilst we perused the exhibition.

The highlight of our visit was Knight’s school. The blokes leading it were really knowledgeable and keen. My girls could not wait to get started on swordfighting. The enthusiasm was infectious. It was great to see them really engaging in this. As we chatted to the lads it made more sense. George and Robin are actually keen fencers themselves so running Knight’s school is just a continuation of what they do day by day anyway.

We spent five hours around the site, including climbing the Mound of the 11th century Motte and Bailey Castle.

On balance, the kids enjoyed the tour, the Knight’s school being the highlight for them.


Oxford Castle Unlocked is open daily from 10.00am to 5.30pm (last tour 4.20pm).

Standard admission prices:
Adult: £10.25, Concession: £9.25, Child: £7.75, Family (2 adults, 2 children): £35

Oxford Castle Unlocked is a 1000 year old castle which also served as a prison for over 800 years. The visitor attraction opened on 2 June 2006 and gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the real people who lived and died throughout the site’s turbulent past. Visitors are able to walk through the ancient buildings and experience the stories that connect the real people to these extraordinary events.

If your children would like to hear more about the King Arthur story, we really enjoyed this version.

Disclaimer:
Our family was given free entry to the Castle for the purpose of reviewing the attraction. These are our own opinions.

Our coin tin

My husband collected and swapped foriegn coins from his youth. When we married I added a few coins to his collection my grandparents had given me. 

Our children like to look through the tin and comment on the large amount of money daddy has.  Whilst looking through today we can across this coin. In the depression of the 1920’s emergency money was printed so that was not too odd. 

Written on the coin is KLEINGELDERSATZMARKE *1920*

MAGISTRAT DER STADT DEUTSCH-FYLAU

As we tried to find more about Deutsch-Fylau we saw this …

The East Prussian plebiscite of 1920 ostesibly allowed the residents to cast votes either in favor of remaining in Germany or becoming a part of Poland. The vote was largely boycotted by ethnic Poles, amid in mass persecution of Polish activists by the German side, going as far as engaging in regular hunts and murder against them to influence the vote. Ultimately the town voted to remain in Germany by 4,746 to 235 votes. It became part of Regierungsbezirk West Prussia in the Province of East Prussia.

After World War II the region was placed under Polish administration by the Potsdam Agreement under territorial changes demanded by the Soviet Union. Most Germans fled or were expelled and replaced with Poles expelled from the Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union.

A lot of history from a small coin, nicht wahr?

Learning from the Romans


We spent a few days up North around Easter. As a polyglot family we could not stop language learning! We’ve visited a brilliant Roman settlement near our home in St Albans. There we learned much of the glassware found there was produced in Cologne (nearish where my mum in law lives in Germany) We took the children to see to Roman remains there last year
Cologne sightseeing guide
The most impressive part was the Praetorium discovered under the Rathaus in Cologne.

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Also near my mum in Law’s in Germany is the Varusschlacht museum. Near the site of another great wall and the site of a massive battle between the Romans and Germanic tribes Vindolanda
My son had learned some Latin at primary school with minimus This book follows a real Roman family who lived at Vindolanda (They identified them from their well preserved letters on the Vindolanda tablets) and a mouse called Minimus in the guide. My hubby has been using this book to bring back his school Latin so from the book all our Children had learned to introduce themselves in Latin. Quad nomen tibi est? Nomen mihi est Sarah. Last year they excavated a Roman Granary I’m sure that’s where Minimus loved to be. Our children had a lot of fun exploring the site and imagining what it would be like to live there in Roman times. The girls were really inspired to see the volunteers excavating as we were there. They were keen to find out how old they have to be to join in!
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I was so excited to see the real Vindolanda tablets and the actual shoes belonging to Lepidina the Prefects wife. It was amazing to see all the Roman remains found in such good condition for their age.
We visited a real section of Hadrian’s wall at Birdoswald on the way back.

As I said we bought tickets for the Roman Army museum as well. I was very different to Vindolanda. The children enjoyed just how interactive it all was, bringing the to life the Romans who were stationed here. We had chance to practice our Latin in the school room together. Picture. My favourite parts were the found Roman jewels and the film of the area from the air revealing yet another Roman fort.

Your family go learning from the Romans too. There are lots of Roman remains all over Europe. A great opportunity to let kids experience history for themselves and do a bit of language learning. Let us know where you choose to go!