Pupils launch �2.7m history project shedding light on Henry VIII links to Barking

Inquisitive pupils will find out how Henry VIII and William the Conqueror put Barking on the map in a multi-million pound school project spearheaded by English Heritage.

Primary children will pour over archives, go on site visits, and talk to experts to stimulate their interest in history as part of the �2.7million school initiative piloted in Barking and Dagenham.

The children will discover how the Norman King William I settled at Barking Abbey after defeating King Harold in Hastings in 1066.

He later moved into his permanent residence, the Tower of London, which was under construction at the time.

The children will also learn how more than four centuries later, in 1520, Henry VIII stopped in Barking to get supplies on his way to meet King Francis I of France near Calais.

The Royal summit was organised to strengthen the bonds of friendships between the two countries and was immortalised in a 16th century painting known as the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

The project, called Heritage Schools, will seek to boost children’s interest in history as well as unearth new historical facts by giving pupils the opportunity to collect “social histories” from members of the community in Barking and Dagenham.

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English Heritage officer Helen Spencer said: “Local communities have superb knowledge about the recent history of the area, which can add colour and interest to children’s local studies, and it is this social history that we are keen to pass on through the Heritage Schools initiative.

“Residents are justly proud of the rich heritage in the borough and Heritage Schools will ensure that children not only learn about and understand it but take pride in their local heritage and care for it in the future.”

Twelve primary schools in Barking and Dagenham will help to launch the project piloted in three areas in England.

The pupils’ teachers will go on a fact-finding history tour of the borough with council heritage officer Mark Watson on November 29.

They will stop at Barking Abbey ruins in the Broadway and visit the Valence House museum archives in Becontree Avenue, Dagenham. The pupils may go on a similar tour at a later stage.

Grafton Primary School in Grafton Road, Dagenham, will work on a history project with Barking Photographic Society.

Grafton headteacher Martin Nicholson said: “It will stimulate interest in history and benefit the children.”