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We meet a workhouse cook who shows us round a Victorian workhouse kitchen and talks about cooking in Victorian times. She talks about her first husband, a sailor, who taught her some unusual recipes. The woman shows us how much food each of the workhouse boys would eat in an average week. She also talks us through, step by step, the process of making the boys breakfast, a then a 'popular' dish called gruel.
This clip is from:
First broadcast:
29 March 2012

Classroom Ideas

Children might consider their own weekly diet using real objects or photos and compare this to the food of a workhouse child. They might think and share what impact this might have on the health of the children. They might talk about what food they eat today and consider why this was not part of the diet of a workhouse child. The class might include a role-play area where children can act out the role of the cook and the children. This clip might stimulate deeper thoughts and discussion on the fairness of workhouses and the pros and cons of what they involved for the children concerned. Discuss the treatment of poor children in the workhouse. Why did poor children receive such treatment? What did a typical workhouse child eat in a week? The children may wish to make some gruel and taste it for themselves, comparing it to food they dislike. They could consider what type of people ran workhouses and compare them to the images portrayed of them, through subsequent films and television programmes, as well as other individuals who started up charitable homes, like Dr Thomas Barnardo.

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