History in Hastings – incidental learning

Our Easter ‘holiday’ seems to have lingered on, partly because we have continued bits of learning throughout what would have been the school holiday and so are still in holiday mode for another week, with some craft projects still to complete before we get back into routine, whatever that is these days!  There are plenty of blogs, Pinterest links and Facebook posts about Easter activities and so I won’t bore you with our Easter related learning here.

I thought instead that I would re-acquaint you with Katie, our classroom in a camper.


The sun was shining, she was looking lonely and so, deciding that a sleepover was in order, we headed in the direction of Hastings, with a quick stop off at Scotney Castle (which is beautiful).  The times table practice folder was also in the van for some learning on the move.  No slacking here!

Scotney Castle




Healthy fish cake and chip butty in the van.  Because fish cake "isn't real dead fish."

Healthy fish cake and chip butty in the van. Because fish cake “isn’t real dead fish.”

Tea by the sea was a little scary, with waves bigger than any we’ve seen before!  So we then (somewhat dramatically) headed inland to discover a pretty little campsite, Brakes Coppice Park, where we snuggled down for the night with two very over excited boys!

Brakes Coppice Park
Brakes Coppice Park

In the true spirit of incidental learning, we drove into Battle for brunch and popped into the English Heritage site of the 1066 battle to visit the abbey and battlefield (did you know that HE visits to EH sites are free?) and spent a fascinating few hours with an audio tour learning about the events of that fateful day (click here to read more about it).  I would like to say that this was a carefully planned outing, but it wasn’t.  It is a series of coincidences. It just so happened that a friend had to cancel our visit and so the final destination changed.  It just so happened that we have been learning about the Vikings, and, conveniently, it was quiet, meaning that an educational visit could take place without the usual prebooking.  Furthermore it just so happened that prior to heading south to meet his bloody end, Harold had just defeated the allied forces of Harald Hardrada and Tostig at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September.  Perfect links to our prior learning. I wish I could say it was intentional :-). Here’s a bit more info if you are now inspired to brush up on your history!

Following the audio tour around the battlefield

Next stop, Bodiam and soup for supper in Katie.


 I should probably mention that I was given a National Trust membership as my leaving present and (can you tell?) I am trying to get full use from it before it expires!

Again, this was an unplanned historical visit but it’s so easy to link areas of learning.  We gave C the task of working out why Harold didn’t retreat to here, meaning that he had to work out the order of events to establish that the castle wouldn’t have been built.  He had a go at archery and we discussed the locations of castles, we  wondered why so many in Kent?  “I wonder why…” type questions are open ended and great for getting children to think for themselves about why things are and what would happen if…Try it out.  Questions feel a lot less daunting if there’s no sense of getting it wrong.


We had some great discussions over the course of the two days, cementing lots of learning.  We’re looking forward to lots more adventures in our campervan. Perhaps I’ll plan a bit better next time…




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