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Activity pack 2: School life in Restoration England

Scenes from school life, from A Tuer, 'A History of the Horn-Book', 1897, York Minster Library, reproduced by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of York
Venus and Adonis includes a comic scene during which Cupid gives the 'little Cupids' a reading lesson.  The little Cupids would have been played by boy choristers, known as Children of the Chapel Royal.  The twelve boys would have been aged between six and thirteen.   As well as singing in the choir of the Chapel Royal (which was the personal church choir of the King and Queen), the children lived in a house together.  They were looked after by the Master of the Children, who was responsible for their musical training, their general welfare and for their academic education.  In the early 1680s, the Master of the Children was John Blow, the composer of Venus and Adonis.  It is quite likely that the reading lesson is a parody of the lessons Blow himself taught the children.

This 'resource pack' consists of a number of activities designed for children in Key Stage 2 (aged 7 to 11).  They are presented in the form of guidelines and ideas to help teachers lead the activities with their classes.
Through these activities, children will:
  • Learn to sing a section of John Blow's Venus and Adonis
  • Use primary evidence to find out what school life was like in the late seventeenth century and record their findings
  • Make a replica hornbook
  • Experience a seventeenth-century reading lesson
  • Learn a few phrases of Latin from a seventeenth-century text book

Follow the links to explore these activities