Victorian Days


Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made a three day visit to Burghley House in 1844.  During the Victorian period in order to maintain the house in pristine condition they had a small army of household servants to carry out the endless daily chores. Our Victorian Days concentrate on the work of this army of household staff and the tasks they had to carry out and through their lives learn something of what it was like to live in the Victorian Age. 

Burghley’s Secret Army

There are a number of activities you can choose when you come to learn about Burghley’s ‘Secret Army’ and how the House was used in the Victorian age.  Your visit will be guided by our education staff wearing period costume and if you wish your children may also visit in similar costume to instantly create a sense of the period.  The activities available will depend upon the total size of your group.

All visits are for a Full Day however, you have the option of spending the afternoon in our extensive, 13 acre Sculpture Garden and the Garden of Surprises, making use of the educational resources we provide when you make your booking, or choosing one of our Victorian Workshops to continue your Victorian Theme. The availability of your Victorian Workshops will depend upon the size of your group.

Your visit will be led by our education team dressed in period costume. You are very welcome, and we do encourage you, to make your visit in ‘Victorian costume’ to enhance your experience. We have some very simple costume guidelines which we can pass on for you to consider.

Your Victorian visit will include a ‘Meet the Servants’ talk where your children will be introduced to many of the household staff, their positions and what their jobs would have entailed. They will learn about their hours of work, their wages and something of their working conditions.

A Handling Session – the children have the opportunity to look closely at some everyday objects used by servants in the Victorian period. There use will be explained and used to give a direct insight into differences in the way of life between today’s living conditions and those from over a hundred years ago.

A Guided Tour of the House with a specific focus on the Victorian aspects of the house; the Kitchen, the old servants bells and fire buckets, gas lights, fire places, the Victorian Dining Table, Gentlemen’s Games Room and the Ladies Withdrawing Room etc.

If you decide to have a Victorian Workshop you may choose from the options below.

The children always enjoy our practical ‘Servants Jobs’ session where we set up a number of tasks, similar to those they could have experienced in the Victorian House, for the children to try out. Depending upon their age these tasks can include; setting a table, folding sheets, peeling carrots, making butter, polishing copper, shoes and saddles, writing a Victorian Letter, weighing beans using old weights and scales, making a scrapbook screen, mending shirts etc.

A walk around the Chestnut Courtyard where we explain what the different buildings were once used for; brewing, baking, butchers shop, chicken house, coal yard, dairy, laundry etc. we can also visit the Old Coach House in the Stable Courtyard and look at the old 19th century coach and an old bicycle.

A talk about Victorian Children and Games and have a go at playing as they would have done in the Victorian era. This can also include making a Victorian style Scrapbook.

Toy Theatre Show – we will show the children a short Toy Theatre production and explain how they could make their own Toy Theatre out of cardboard boxes etc.

Victorian Christmas Days

The Victorian period saw the introduction of many of our Christmas customs. We offer Victorian Christmas Days from the middle of November until the end of the autumn term.

Activities can include:

A Presentation on Victorian Customs with Victorian Carols – taste a ‘Wassail Punch’ (non alcoholic of course!)

Parlour Games in the Great Hall

Making Salt Dough Decorations

Making a Victorian Christmas Scrapbook

A Visit to the Kitchen to hear how it was used in the Victorian times

Experience a Victorian Ghost Story, told in Candlelight in a period room