Experience what school might have been like a century ago at The Ragged School Museum.
The reconstructed classroom and kitchenette make a perfect afternoon out for the whole family. Visitors of all ages can catch a glimpse of Victorian life as they wander around the warehouses that were formerly home to Dr. Barnardo's free school.
The buildings were originally warehouses but restored by Thomas Barnardo after he arrived in London in 1866. His initial intentions were to train as a doctor in the capital and then travel to China to complete missionary work. However, upon moving to London, he was shocked by the overcrowded, disease-ridden and poverty-stricken East End. Barnardo abandoned his medical career and threw himself into missionary work instead.
A year later, the first and largest ragged school was set up. It would provide basic education for free to local children in Mile End. A decade later, Barnardo's Copperfield Road Free School opened. An incredible 60,000 children had been taken into a Barnardo's home by the time he passed away in 1905.
The school actually closed in 1908 when sufficient government schools were established by London County Council.
Today, the classroom is kitted out with authentic chalkboards, wooden desks and even dunce hats. Meanwhile, the kitchen has been recreated to look as it would have in 1900. It's ideal for showing children just how lucky they are to live in the twenty-first century! In the meantime, adults can gain valuable insight into the horrific social conditions of England in the 1800s.
A realistic Victorian lesson can be enjoyed by all ages on the first Sunday of every month. An actor in full costume will teach you a useful lesson about the three Rs - that's writing, reading and arithmetic. The Sunday Open House is open 2pm-5pm.
Whilst here, you can also learn more about the backstory of the East End neighborhoods, including Wapping, Limehouse, Bethnal Green, Stepney and Mile End, Whitechapel and Spitalfields, and the Tower Hamlets.
As you can probably imagine, The Ragged School Museum is one of the most haunted schools in the country. If you're interested in the more gruesome past of the building, you can join in with one of the regular ghost hunts organised by Haunted Rooms. Be warned though, many have reportedly heard disembodied voices, seen dark shadowy figures and witnessed poltergeist activity.
The Ragged School Museum is open 10am-5pm every Wednesday, and Thursday and on the first Sunday of each month from 2pm-5pm. Admission is completely free.
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