Retrospective: The British Museum, Autumn 2012

British Museum

The British Museum

We’ve made a concerted effort to get out of the classroom more often this year and see some of the amazing cultural sites on offer so close to us here in Fairlop. Not only do these excursions help you learn about new things, but by getting out of school, you expand your mind and break down the mental barriers that hold in your intellectual creativity and the time and evironment allow you to reflect and see the world, which is exactly what happened when Mr Mukherjee took a group of GCSE students to the British Museum in the autumn term. Here, he reflects on the experience.


Another museum, another exhibition, another trip into London. Look, there’s a piece of old jewellery, and an old book in a glass case, and there’s a big block of wood cut from the trunk of an old tree. But at least I’m not in school!!

And yet, look closer. Start to read the information.

The jewellery – that’s not a necklace, it is a circular glass box in which has been placed the eyeball of one of the conspirators involved in the Gunpowder Plot to kill/replace King James I. When he was captured and found guilty, via extreme torture, he was hanged, drawn and quartered. (Look it up, it is a horrible way to go!) During the disembowelling, his eyeball was taken illegally and placed into the glass box.

The block of wood – this was actually cut from an old tree that existed in Shakespeare’s time and it bears the carved initials of two young people who wanted to celebrate their love for each other forever. That would be over 400 years old!

The book – this was smuggled into Robben Island, disguised as a Hindu text. It was actually the Complete Works of Shakespeare and it was passed around the inmates of the prison for a number of years; the prisoners being enemies of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Look even closer, and you can see the passage highlighted in the text that Nelson Mandela chose as his favourite piece – it comes from Julius Caesar:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.


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