Education at The Merchant's House

The Merchant’s House aims to create a desire amongst its users, and potential users, regardless of their starting point, to learn more about the 17th century. Using the house itself, the restoration work and our programme of activities visitors and the local community can learn about the period and the house’s place in our local, regional and national heritage.

A programme of formal and informal learning opportunities is offered to all who wish to, and can be encouraged to, participate. In particular, we aim to reach the 50+ year olds, school children and students, and those who live and work in Marlborough and the surrounding rural parishes.

Every effort is made to deliver education and learning in ways appropriate to the identified target groups. No previous level of knowledge is presumed or required. We are aware that there are barriers to learning. Many think history is not for them but a major part of our role is to enthuse people from all walks of life with a desire for knowledge of history. By presenting a varied programme of learning opportunities delivered in a variety of ways we aim to overcome some of the cultural barriers and involves as wide a cross section of people as possible.

Hands On History - bringing the 17th century to life Education programme for Schools

The Merchant's House launched the Hands On History education programme in 2012.  Re-enactors with a wealth of knowledge about the history of the House and the period greet school children in costume, and take them on a voyage of discovery through the House, illuminating their trip with personal stories. Having lived through the Civil War, the Republican years and the Great Fire of Marlborough - and working for a trader with links to far off places - their tales convey these dynamic times of change to their young audience.

Content is tied in with Foundation Stage, Key Stage 1/2 and Key Stage 3 with visits tailored to the requirements of the school.

Children get the chance to role play, dress up, handle artefacts, problem solve and so on...and can even try biscuits made from a 17th century recipe.

For further information please click on the following or call 01672 511491.
School Flyer
Schools Booking Form


Craftspeople talking through their work
Work in progress
The conservation of the house’s polychrome wall paintings is on-going and offers visitors and volunteers a detailed insight into this work. It is also possible to watch other craftspeople in the house as they set about the restoration work using authentic 17th Century methods. Our craftspeople are keen to talk about their work and often give of their time to attend open days and events to explain their craft.

Illustrated talks and lectures
These are held regularly and include small intimate hour long talks based on and in the house to larger lectures taken from a wider range of history. Tickets for these lectures range from £5 - £15 – with reductions for Friends. For more information on events click here.
Explaining the turkey work project
Guided tours of the house and garden
Our volunteer guides are trained to pass on details of the house, its furnishing and the life of Thomas Bayly, his wife and nine children. Tours are tailor made to meet visitors’ / groups’ pace and level of interest. Click here for more details.

Hands on projects
Volunteers have the opportunity to become involved in practical projects; for example the turkey work project to cover 12 dining chairs, maintaining the 17th style garden using plants from the period, making of costumes and curtains, research into various aspects of the house and its occupants
Bringing history alive with local school children
Open days and re-enactments
Held approx once a year these give visitors a taste of how they lived and work, and what they wore and ate, in the 17th Century. Our annual Open Day in May is free to all.

Library and archive
Having a well stocked library specialising in the 17th Century, based in a partially restored house of the same period with a re-created 17th c style garden affords an excellent opportunity for students of history. The Marlborough archive comprising numerous historic items relating to the town and surrounding area provides a unique facility for research into local history. For more details visit the library page.

The Trust publishes a journal 3 times per year featuring related articles and research connected to the house and the area. The Journal is free to Friends of the Merchant’s House. For more details visit the Friends page.

Newsletters, leaflets and brochures keep supporters up to date with the restoration work and educational opportunities available.