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Junior School Visit The Thackray Museum of Medicine


As part of their medicine throughout history topic, pupils in Years 3-6 enjoyed a fascinating trip to the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds yesterday. 

Junior School pupils have been learning about the advances in medicine over the years through to the modern era. Their visit to the Thackery Museum has helped the girls to better understand the progressions in medicine and patient treatments. They were able to immerse themselves in the visual galleries and displays during the trip, helping to really bring the topic to life. 

The practical nature of the Thackray Museum of Medicine allowed the girls to get hands-on with their learning. During the ‘Curing the King’ workshop, they took on the role of the pharmacist, making pomanders and poultices in the apothecary to cure King Henry VIII.  

Elsewhere around the museum, they were able to try on a variety of different medical uniforms as they progressed through the exhibitions, continuing to learn about the developments in medical intervention and understanding of illness throughout history, including how leeches are used. During a visit to ‘Disease Street’, complete with mock streets, noises and smells they discovered how diseases spread.  

“I liked disease street the most. You could pick a character and you learnt all about them. The smells were a bit funny! I Picked the character Martha O’Brien.” – Agnes, Year 6 

“I loved looking around, we got lots of time to explore. My favourite bit was, well all of it!”– Faye, Year 4 

“We went to a place where there was a doctor for Henry VIII.  He made medicine for him and we got to help make one. We mixed in lavender, rose petals and some powders and seeds” – Francesca, Year 6 

“We heard all about the factories that children had to work in and learnt about the dangerous machinery used to make cotton. There was a video where a girl’s leg got caught in one of the machines and they had to operate and remove her leg. They didn’t use any painkillers which was really surprising! It was based on a true story and apparently two weeks later she died due to an infection.” – Alexandra, Year 6 

“We did a quiz, which has a ‘did you know’ section you could learn from. It was an interactive quiz that taught us all about germs. I liked learning about the street life and what that was like for everyday people.” – Tiff, Year 4 

View the gallery in full

Prior to the visit, KS2 investigated Prehistoric and Ancient Egyptian Medicine, Roman Medicine, and Medieval Medicine, as well as learning about the Black Death. This week in preparation for the trip, pupils discovered more about Tudor Medicine. A recent learning aim saw the girls imagine themselves as Tudor pharmacists who are being taught how to tend to poor Henry VIII’s complex ailments!

This exciting topic was first introduced through the ‘wow activity’ on the pre-historic dress-up day earlier in the term. Working together in House Teams, the girls were tasked with creating a chant and an accompanying dance, similar to those believed by witch doctors to cure ailments and heal unwell patients by scaring away demons.  

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