Explore the fascinating world of the Victorian judges at this award-winning historic house.

Toy Theatres

Victorian children enjoyed trips to see pantomimes. At home they would recreate the excitement by using table-top toy theatres to perform plays for their friends and family. Toy theatres could be made of card, although richer families might have a special stage made for them from wood, with everything from a real theatre made in miniature - even tiny lights (rather dangerous!). Once you had your theatre, you could buy books of stories, sheets of characters and pieces for the stage. These paper sheets came ready-coloured, or for less money, to paint yourself. The paper would then be cut out and backed onto card, with characters being attached to sticks or wires to move them around the stage. Here you will find a sheet of characters and a backdrop. The backdrop could be used for several different plays.

In the classroom:  

Print the sheets out - they can be blown up and used to colour in and cut out. Make up a story using the characters. Why does the backdrop have the names of four plays on it? Why not make up your own story, or chose a favourite pantomime tale and draw your own characters and backdrops to go with it?

toy theatre characters

toy theatre scene

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Strange But True

  • list arrowHow did Victorians try out a new invention?

    Test it on the servants of course! That's what happened in 1860 at The Judge's Lodging, when gas lighting was put into the basement and not the Judge's rooms. They wanted to see if they got sick from the fumes. The servants were fine - that's why we got the lights working again.

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