Education and School Visits
Welcome to Education at Dorchester Abbey
We are happy to welcome groups of schoolchildren and adults to the Abbey to share the religious, spiritual, historical and architectural heritage that it offers and plan an individual programme or tour for each group. For an illustrated overview, download and print out our new Education Introductory Leaflet (PDF). But, please note, booking beforehand is essential.
School visits to the Abbey
Each visit to Dorchester Abbey will be tailored to the specific requirements of the teachers and to the age and ability of the pupils. Many aspects of Key Stage 1 and 2 can be covered singly or in combination as the Abbey offers considerable scope for cross-curricular studies, adding extra dimensions to the topics studied. Popular topics for study include: Baptism, Awe and Wonder, Pilgrimage, Colour, What is (in) a church?, Prayer, Architecture, Dissolution of the monasteries, Dorchester as a site of spiritual and religious significance for over 4000 years, Using historical evidence, Village Study, Dorchester as the cradle of Christianity in Saxon Wessex, Treasures of the Abbey - to name but a few. Subjects covered can be Maths, English and Drama, History, Geography, Science, RE, and Art and Design.
For Key Stage 3 and 4 the Abbey offers many opportunities to explore, experience and discuss themes from the History, RE and Citizenship programmes, and the locality provides Geographical investigation and the link between location and settlement. The award-winning Cloister Gallery tells the story of the Abbey and its former monastic buildings through a collection of medieval stonework, offering both an artistic display and an academic study.
Worksheets for all Key Stages can be downloaded.
We are also planning events specifically for Sixth Formers. These would give pupils from different schools the opportunity to listen to notable speakers, participate in discussion groups and exchange ideas, or to take part in musical or dramatic workshops. We are happy to work on suggestions from schools.
Visits can also be organised to include the Museum in the Old School Room in the monastic Guest House, and the Hurst Water Meadow, an island lying between the River Thame and the Overy mill stream, probably in use since Saxon times and now being managed in accordance with the DEFRA Environmental Stewardship Scheme.
The village of Dorchester-on-Thames offers evidence of continuous occupation from the Iron Age, with an oppidum of considerable importance, a Roman town, a Saxon cathedral, a medieval monastery, coaching inns and domestic architecture spanning the centuries. There are opportunities to witness and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of 21st century living in an old village, or to compare "Then" and "Now".
Visits can be part or whole day, can be led entirely by the school's own staff and/ or by experienced teachers working at the Abbey. Detailed discussions and a site visit at the planning stage allow teachers to identify their learning objectives and the particular activities they would like to pursue. We at the Abbey view our provision as a partnership with each school. The Abbey offers ample space both inside and out for pupils to have a packed lunch or to "release energy". A room in the adjacent medieval Guest House can be booked separately.
As well as the themes and programmes we already offer to schools, we welcome the opportunity to provide them with a programme on a topic of their own choosing. All the worksheets in the Teachers' Pack on the website can be downloaded and adapted to suit individual requirements.
We are very excited by the versatility of the Abbey and the richness of the opportunities it offers. We look forward to extending our work with schools, providing them with a wide variety of quality learning experiences outside the normal classroom.
Planning and booking your visit
Booking your visit is essential as the Abbey hosts several group visits each week, especially in the Spring and Summer terms. To book, please phone the Education Officer, Margaret Craig, on 01865 343164 or email email@example.com. She will be happy to discuss your requirements before you make a booking. Confirmation of the date and your proposed programme will be sent to you in advance of your visit.
The cost of your visitWe aim to keep our charges as low as possible and will discuss them with each individual school.
- An independent visit to the Abbey - £0.50 per pupil (minimum charge £15.00).
- Visits including tours and/ or activities led by Abbey Staff - from £5 per pupil full day (minimum charge £90.00) or from £3 per child half day.
- Workshops run by outside specialists e.g. Drama, Story telling, Calligraphy, Drawing in charcoal, graphite sticks or pastels can be offered from £2.50 per pupil including materials (Group size 10 – 15).
We love to have feedback from school groups, from teachers and children, and with your permission would like to show their remarks and pictures on this website. Please send your material by email to Margaret Craig.