England,  Western Europe

Children’s view of history – Peterborough Cathedral


Front view of the Cathedral, taken from Aiden's bit of grass :)
Front view of the Cathedral, taken from Aiden’s bit of grass 🙂

Hello everybody. My name is Aiden and I am four years old. Sometimes people call me AJ so you can too if you like. My Mummy is called Paula and she does write a page for her work. I am being assessed for something called Autism as I sometimes do things that other boys and girls don’t do but Mummy says that doesn’t matter to her as she loves me anyway, all the way to the moon and back again. She calls them meltdowns, but I think she is funny when she says that, because I’m not melting. Mummy is writing my words so I hope I do okay and you like my story. Mummy says she has lots of friends who like history, like her and me. And I look at all the pictures of castles and things you share and sometimes Mummy tells me about them or reads me the stories. So Mummy says I should say thank you, because its nice to share and I like it.

One of the things I like is history stuff. Mummy does history stuff for her work so I get to learn all sorts of really cool things. I like to look at like medieval castles and churches and monasteries and things, how they are built and how different they look to other history like Tudor and Georgian. I also like archaeology. Did you know that Henry V and some others built some monasteries, because they liked them and thought they would help them be God’s friends when they died, but there was a naughty King called Henry VIII who pulled them all down again because he was a bad, greedy man?

Yesterday my Mummy took me to Peterborough on the big orange bus and we went for something to eat but I didn’t like the restaurant because it was loud and there were lots of people in there, so I couldn’t eat my lunch and hid in a corner because I was scared and my ears hurt. So she took me outside into the square, where the sun was shining. There were fountains and some birds were playing in them, and I ate my sandwich, and looked at the Church. It’s called St John the Baptist church and is named after a friend of cheeses (I think he means Jesus – Paula) who baptised people in a river hundreds of years ago.

St John the Baptist (Peterborough Parish) Church
St John the Baptist (Peterborough Parish) Church

The church has been there for 600 years. Mummy told me it was built in about 1407. I don’t really understand what that means, but I know its older than Mummy and maybe even as old as Grandad. Looking at the church made me happy again, so Mummy and I went for a walk and saw the Guildhall next to the Church which is 17th Century but looks much older.

Then we went to the Cathedral. There is a big gate which is Norman, and has really old doors in it which are very big. And inside the gate are more doors which go to rooms. At the side of the gate is a chapel and then some grass where we sat, because I get scared a lot and sitting down on grass and being quiet helps me be happy. Going through the big gate was a little bit scary. After we sat on the grass, me and Mummy talked about the buildings around us. There is another gate to the Bishops Palace, but you aren’t allowed to go in there. There are some old buildings in front, which look like they have two different phases. Right at one end was a small square building, which I think is probably medieval, but it has been made bigger with lots more houses on it, which look more Georgian and had different bricks.

Mummy asked me which bits I would like to see, so we went through a gate next to the Cathedral in the corner and we walked to the cloisters, which are all bricked up now, but you can still see the arches. Cloisters are my favourite bits of old abbeys. Then we went to the other side of the cathedral where there is another double archway, and there is an old house there. Mummy said it was built after the old bits, but it is still quite old, and maybe was a house for some of the people from the Cathedral. There are a few more buildings like that around the grass in a square which is a bit like a courtyard. The other arch leads to the place where there are graves where people who died a long time ago are in the ground.

Mummy asked me if I wanted to go into the Cathedral to see a Queen who is buried there. She told me that Henry VIII, the bad King was mean to this Queen who was his lady. And he didn’t want to be married to her anymore so sent her away and got a new lady and that was when he pulled all the abbeys and monasteries down. Then the Queen was very sad, and she died and he didn’t care, so she was buried in my Cathedral at Peterborough all on her own. That’s not very nice is it?

I was really scared to go into the Cathedral because its big and makes a funny noise to my ears. But I held Mummy’s hand and I was very brave and we went inside, and Mummy talked really quietly to me and showed me lots of bits of the building and the stones and arches and things and she let me touch them which makes me feel better. We walked up one side and she showed me the grave of Queen Catherine and there was a pomegranate on it, and there was a picture of her on the railings and a plaque on the wall which I liked running my fingers on because it was tickly. It had words on it about the Queen, but I didn’t care about the words because I liked how it felt and Mummy says I can learn things about her when I am a bit bigger.

13669240_306258253049597_5691250449028346358_nWe saw a big stone which is really old. Mummy says it has been there since before this Cathedral, and Vikings came and broke the old cathedral and killed some of the monks and some of the monks hid the stone. And then this cathedral was built instead and they found the stone and put it in here. We walked down the other side of the cathedral. Mummy says the sides are called transepts. And there was a grave except it isn’t a grave anymore because the other Queen got moved after she was buried and is buried in Westminster instead. She is a Scottish Queen and naughty Henry VIII’s little girl who was another Queen called Elizabeth when she was a grown-up said she was trying to steal her crown and said “If she doesn’t have a head, she can’t wear my crown” and chopped her head off.

Then Mummy let me choose a present for being a big brave boy and I picked a ruler which has all the kings’ names on it, because I like to measure things like artefacts and bricks to see how old they are. We went back home on the bus again, and went past some other things called Longthorpe Tower and St Kyneburgh’s church, which has been on Time Team. (Time Team is my favourite program and I watch it every day, because it helps me learn and stops me from doing the funny things that I can’t control.) But I will tell you about them another day. I took some photos at Peterborough, which Mummy is adding to my story. I hope you like them.
Mummy is adding Phoebe’s story about the Cathedral too so you have grown up words to read.

Love Aiden.