Take a walk down a

PULL on your suit of ar­mour, pick up your sword and un­tie your trusty steed, for we are about to travel back in time to me­dieval Eng­land. A time of cas­tles, out­laws and fair maid­ens in dis­tress, it saw magic and mys­tery, along with death, dis­ease and a gr

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk & World Update -

HIS­TORY fans can take a trip back in time with a brand new ex­hi­bi­tion that takes in both the majesty and mis­ery of the Me­dieval era.

Lo­cated at the Peter­bor­ough Mu­seum and Art Gallery, staff have been work­ing hard in prepa­ra­tion for the multi-sen­sory project, It’s Me­dieval.

now open to the pub­lic, vis­i­tors can ex­pe­ri­ence life as it was in the 1400s, in a spe­cially-built replica street.

As well as ex­plor­ing shops, homes, a cas­tle and dun­geon, there is plenty to do, from try­ing on cos­tumes and ar­mour to “touch and feel” dis­plays and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Walk­ing through the strawscat­tered street you can hear the monks from the old monastery sing, as you take in the scent of smoke from fires, cre­ated by scent pro­jec­tors around the room.

Scent boxes also play a big part, of­fer­ing vis­i­tors the chance to smell medicines once used in the treat­ment of ail­ments and even the nearby river, which was not as clean as it is to­day.

The ex­hi­bi­tion has been in the plan­ning stages for the last year, with the team as­sem­bling the homes and shops two months ago.

Stu­art Orme, his­toric in­ter­pre­ta­tion man­ager for char­i­ta­ble trust Vi­vac­ity, said that the team re­ally pulled to­gether.

“It was a real team ef­fort. Our mu­seum build­ings team are fan­tas­tic and when it came down to it we had ev­ery­one in­volved, from help­ing to dis­play arte­facts to rolling up their sleeves and paint­ing the sets,” he said.

“Work­ing to­gether has made a real dif­fer­ence to the end re­sult. Hav­ing a va­ri­ety of tal­ents and ex­per­tise in­volved has cre­ated a much richer ex­pe­ri­ence for our vis­i­tors.

“This is an ex­cit­ing and am­bi­tious hands-on ex­hi­bi­tion for all the fam­ily to en­joy. It’s Me­dieval un­cov­ers what life was re­ally like in this fas­ci­nat­ing pe­riod of our his­tory, and with sights, sounds and even smells brings it all vividly to life.”

Al­though the ma­jor­ity of Me­dieval Eng­land was pretty much the same, Peter­bor­ough had some­thing spe­cial.

“One of the Kings of Eng­land was from the city, along with a num­ber of holy relics and the Becket Chapel, which be­came a place of pil­grim­age for many,” Stu­art said.

So what is left of a time when we rode around on horse­back and threw all our waste into the river?

Stu­art said: “The street plan of the city cen­tre has not changed since 1150. The area we know to­day was drawn up by the lo­cal monks of Peter­bor­ough Abbey. Al­though the build­ings and their con­tents have changed, the street lay­out has not.”

Clues to the past are all around us, even in the roads we drive along and the streets we walk down.

The Vik­ing name for street was ‘gata’ or ‘gate’ and ev­i­dence of the city’s past can be dis­cov­ered sim­ply by read­ing street names. For ex­am­ple, Cow­gate would be where farm­ers would herd their cat­tle down into mar­ket, and Pri­est­gate would lead to the im­por­tant and in­flu­en­tial peo­ple of the city.

You can even see an orig­i­nal Ab­bots prison door just in­side the Reba gift shop in the city cen­tre.

With an aw­ful lot of very dirty wa­ter un­der the bridge since Me­dieval Peter­bor­ough, why should peo­ple visit the ex­hi­bi­tion?

“These peo­ple were our an­ces­tors, and de­spite think­ing that they might be be­low us be­cause they didn’t have the in­ter­net or tele­vi­sion, they were ac­tu­ally in­cred­i­bly rescource­ful. They had a lot less to work with than we have to­day,” Stu­art said.

“It is also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that they were just peo­ple, the same as us. They would have had the same con­cerns, fam­ily dis­putes and is­sues. They would have worked hard and found ways to en­joy them­selves, the same as we do.

“Things that hap­pened dur­ing the me­dieval era shaped life as we know it. Peter­bor­ough would not be the way it is to­day with­out it, which is why the ex­hi­bi­tion is a great way of find­ing out how events of the past have shaped our city.”

De­spite be­ing a time of great mis­ery, with dis­ease and hard­ship rife, many think of Me­dieval times as ex­cit­ing.

Stu­art said: “I think it is a time that ap­peals. Peo­ple have ro­man­tic ideas be­cause a lot of our pop­u­lar sto­ries are based around that era, such as the tales of King Arthur.”

With knights in shin­ing ar­mour and damsels in dis­tress, roy­alty and back to ba­sics skills and trades­men, there re­ally is some­thing for ev­ery­one of all ages. All those on horse­back should note that trusty steeds will have to wait out­side.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is open now and runs un­til novem­ber 21. It is open from 10am to 5pm, Tues­day to Satur­day, and 12pm to 4pm Sun­days and Bank Hol­i­day Mon­days.

Ad­mis­sion is free to all. A pro­gramme of spe­cial events and ac­tiv­i­ties to tie in with the ex­hi­bi­tion will run through­out the sum­mer.

Visit www.peter­bor­ough her­itage.org.uk, e-mail mu­seum@ peter­bor­ough.gov.uk or call 01733 864663 to find out more.

liv­ing His­tory: Shan­non and Corey Gen­ovese, aged five and eight, look around the mu­seum’s ex­hi­bi­tion. (METP-14-06-10DL009)

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