Richmond Park in WWI

Suitable for Key Stage 2

The children will learn about about the role Richmond Park played during WW1, to understand why and how people grew their own food during this time, they will gain an insight into life as a WW1 nurse and will develop an understanding of the importance placed on technological innovation to support the war effort.

Which season is best for this activity?

This activity can be done all year round. The session is held partly outdoors; suitable clothing is required if rain is forecast.

Learning objectives and links to the National Curriculum of Study

The session links directly to the National Curriculum History Programmes of Study for Key 2 (.  All our sessions are underpinned by detailed lesson plans. These plans are adjusted to take account of the variations in ability and skill level.

Pupils should be taught about:

  • A local history study (KS2)

Outline of the activity

We will begin with an introductory discussion.  This will involve a brainstorming and Q&A session to find out what the children already know about WW1.  Using photographic evidence, we will set the scene for how Richmond Park was used during WW1.  We will focus on topics such as surveillance, technological innovations and the role of women. The children will be split into three groups and will cover the following activities:

  • Semaphore: We will discuss the importance of signalling during the war (flags, light, lamps.) We will explain how female signal instructors taught new recruits how to use semaphore flags in Richmond Park. The children will play a semaphore game where they will learn to signal and decipher the codes.
  • Food growing in the kitchen garden: We will explain how in 1914 German submarines targeted commercial shipping, which led to food shortages that meant people had to grow their own food. In Richmond Park, parkland was turned into farmland and allotments where oats, potatoes, wheat and beans were grown. The children will follow instructions to plant a pea seed in a paper potter and will dig up some potatoes.
  • Running a hospital: The ‘matron’ will explain how vast numbers of injured men returned to the UK and how a South African hospital was set up in Richmond Park for South African soldiers. The men here were recuperating and required day to day care such as having their wounds redressed and keeping their clothes and bed linen clean. In pairs, the children will practice putting bandages on each other and they will clean dirty laundry.

Ideas for pre-visit learning

Before bringing a group to do this activity, here are some ideas to help to introduce the subject:

  • Look at pictures and learn about the technologies used in WW1 (on land and in the air)
  • Ask the children to think about the roles of people who were not actively fighting in the war – how could they help in the war effort?

Ideas for follow-up work back at school

  • Can the children create their own codes? - creating and deciphering.
  • Choose one of the activities and write a report about it.
  • Draw 2 pictures of Richmond Park – one during WW1 and one today.
  • Research other jobs women had during the war.


"Varied and engaging activities. The children loved the practical activities. Knowledgable and personable staff."  

"Many thanks for hosting us today - the children loved the workshops and being able to explore the park again.  Even the  sun came out for us!  The volunteers were so engaging and really supported the lessons that we have been doing in class this year.  Children were encouraged and able to ask questions."