History Resource Cupboard – lessons and resources for schools

How should we tell the story of Richard Whiting’s execution?

Updated for 2020!

This lesson will get to the heart of what ‘history’ actually is. How should historians write about the past?

Inspired by a session I saw Michael Riley give at the SHP conference many years ago, we have developed this murder mystery which never fails to engage. Your students will listen to a gruesome execution story of Richard Whiting’s execution on Glastonbury Tor in 1539, and then re-write it.

Armed with some contextual knowledge, they are tasked with re-editing a basic description of Whiting’s execution.  They are encouraged to make inferences and bring the story to life.  Essentially, they learn to write in the style of David Starkey. This is great literacy work – and they love doing it!

Next they discuss whether this is or isn’t good history.  Starkey might approve, but would Leopold Von Ranke (pictured)? After all, he suggested that the historian should only stick to known facts

This approach has never fails to engage or promote heated debate, even amongst the so-called ‘less able’. It is great to hear students as young as 11 discussing the pros and cons of Von Ranke’s view of history!

This sets you up nicely for the next enquiry: Why was Richard Whiting executed?

Download lesson

  • Lesson presentation: PowerPoint
  • Lesson write-up: PDF
  • Resource 1: PDF

Price: £12.99

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