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1666 and All That


My characters have had a very busy Spring and early Summer term. This week is the first time bookings have eased off, allowing me – among other things – to put together this post.

As always, two of my characters have dominated, being my Great Fire of London character Sir William Petty, and the pirate Captain Burwash, although recently my highwayman John Nevison has made a lot of appearances too! Over the years I seem to have done more news stories about my pirate, so this time it will be Sir William’s turn.

Sir William Petty has two guises, one (very popular) in which he tells the story of the Great Fire and the other (very rare as it is still in-development) in which he travels forwards in time to the present day.

One February trip took Sir William to Wombwell’s Park Street school. The teacher Sarah Allen wrote afterwards that the children “thoroughly enjoyed” the day, and that it gave them lots to talk about. The children also sent a very big bundle of thank you letters, and so I have made collages of their dramatic pictures of the fire and of some of their written comments.

Here you can see London burning – each street is from a different child’s picture!



And here are some of their comments about the day …


A little boy called Thomas came to see Sir William at Skipton Castle this Easter and saw a big picture of the man himself outside. He was very surprised to see that Sir William looked extraordinarily like his father.


Please click on the Great Fire of London to find out more about Sir William Petty, and on Captain Burwash to find out more about my pirate character. To see which of my other characters you might want to visit, please take a look at my page of Characters. If you want any of my characters to visit your school, please do get in touch.


Thank you for Your Thank Yous!

Burwash Jan 18 A

Captain Burwash at Chaucer Community Primary School

I have been so busy since last summer that I have been remiss in writing any news stories. For this one I thought I would post some very recent comments teachers have e-mailed to me. These cheer me up no end and always remind me that although I might have heard the stories my characters tell a ‘few’ times, they are exciting and new to the children.

Here are some comments about my Great Fire of London and Pirate days.


Susan Wiblin, Our Lady and St Brendan’s Catholic Primary School

Just wanted to say thank you from myself and Year 2 for yesterday. They had a fantastic day and I’m sure it will have huge impact on their work this week.

Jenny Marriot, Potters Green Primary School

… Thank you very much for the day, we really appreciate it … The children were engaged from the moment you arrived and were fully immersed in their learning all day. They were extremely excited to share their day with their parents too which is fantastic. Thank you, Jenny and all of Year 3

Sarah Allen and the children of Teak AK, Wombwell Park Street Primary School

… The children had a really good insight into what life might have been like at that time.

Jennifer Shufflebotham, New Ford Academy

Just wanted to say a huge thank you for coming in on Tuesday to support our topic on Pirates … The children and staff enjoyed it immensely.  We’ll look forward to welcoming you again next time.


Thank you to the teachers above for letting me use your comments.

Please click on Captain Burwash to find out more about my pirate character, and click on the Great Fire of London to find out more about Sir William Petty. And if you want any of my characters to visit your school, please get in touch.

Burwash Jan 18 B

Captain Burwash complaining about how unscary his jolly roger is at Chaucer Community Primary School

The Highwayman: A Resource for KS2 Teachers

Here is a great resource for Upper Key Stage 2 teachers who want to do cross-curricular work based around the Alfred Noyes’ poem ‘The Highwayman’. My own character, John Nevison, features in the video, as I spent a lovely day in the countryside near Marsden for the filming. The link in the article below is www.teachthehighwayman.co.uk (if you want to go straight there!).


Free Key Stage 2

Highwayman Resources
The Milestone Society

Teach The Highwayman – www.teachthehighwayman.co.uk

The Milestone Society has created an exciting new website around the topic of The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes. The website contains accessible, fun resources aimed at upper Key Stage 2 and can be delivered as part of a topic based around the poem or as individual lessons that link to aspects of history, geography, outdoor learning and much more. 

The poem by Alfred Noyes forms a starting point for pupil investigations, further developed into lessons covering topics such as travel and transport, old maps, waymarking, milestones and imperial distance measurement. There is also a video of a Highwayman finding his way which can be used as a support resource.

“The Highwayman” concept has been developed by Jan Scrine of The Milestone Society from an original idea by Alison Farley. The educational resources have been devised by Mairi McLeod of CASE Education.

Thank you for your time, we welcome your comments and feedback on our new website and resources.

Visit www.teachthehighwayman.co.uk
Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

It’s been a long time since I posted a news story, but that’s mainly because I have been too busy visiting schools to find the time to write about visiting them!

A Pirate in a Castle!

Last weekend Captain Burwash visited Skipton Castle, and discovered his ugly mug was painted large upon a sign outside the castle.

Burwash Poster 2017


As a consequence, lots of people came to meet with him and he spent the whole weekend telling tales of famous pirates and their piratical deeds, as well as waxing lyrical about his possessions and piracy in general.

Here you can see some children gathered at the front to take part in one of the stories, doing all the actions needed to help their watching family members enjoy the tale.


At one point a scurvy little scallywag called Tom (known well to the captain) thought he might reach out for a bottle of rum while the captain was distracted in conversation. Sensibly, considering how heavily armed the captain was, the boy slid along the bench away from temptation!


You may notice the captain was wearing his rather lovely new coat, stitched with his own two hands, as shown in the previous news post.

If you want to know more about Captain Burwash, please click here. And if you want him to visit your school, please get in touch.

Will the sewing ever end?

Oh … it has!

I have, after three weeks of toil (admittedly whilst also going on holiday ‘adventure-days’ with the kids, a working weekend, a reenactment weekend and even a mid-week summer school day in Staffordshire) finally completed Captain Burwash’s new coat.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe buttons were on by 9 am this morning. It is linen-lined wool, with linen and silk thread (the latter for the button holes) and pewter buttons. I am proud of the button holes …


And my functioning pockets …



It was inspired by a collection of pictures …

1710 coats

1710 coat pic


And it seems to fit me well …


If you want to know more about Captain Burwash, please click here. And if you want him to visit your school, do please get in touch.