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Explaining computers to a Victorian duke

7 November 2006

Imagine having to explain computers and MP3 players to a baffled Victorian nobleman who has barely even heard of electricity?!

Over the next fortnight a series of primary school classes will have the chance to take a tour of the spectacular Duff House in Aberdeenshire in the company of its 19th century owner Alexander Duff, the Duke of Fife.

While the duke is delighted to talk about his life and times, he is just as inquisitive to find out about the very different world of his 21st century guests.  The activities have been organised as part of Historic Scotland’s innovative schools programme.  This has been designed to provide schools with stimulating and unusual ways to teach the curriculum.

Tricia Weeks, Historic Scotland Education Officer, said: "It's a great way to get children thinking about how different the world was in Victorian times.  The duke gives them a tour of his home, talks about the grand parties he once held and the small army of servants he employed.

He also talks about his marriage to Princess Louise and what it’s like being related to the queen, and having the Prince of Wales to stay.  At the same time he’s fascinated by how much times have changed and wants to know about the future.

This was great fun when we piloted the project with a local school. There was lots of talk about technology and how proud the duke is of his new gas lighting. The children then had to find words a man from the 19th century would understand to explain computers and MP3 players."

There will also be an emphasis on life below stairs.  The duke will be recruiting some of the youngsters as butlers, maids and chimney sweeps to looks after his daily needs and run the great house.  The second part of the session will involve the children handling real and replica artefacts that would have been used by servants in their daily work.

The schools sessions take place between 9 and 17 November 2006. A few are still open for bookings. For details call Tricia Weeks on 01667 460208.

Notes for editors
  • Duff House is run jointly by Historic Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council and the National Galleries of Scotland.

  • It is located in Banff, off the A97. Tickets are £5.50 full price, £4.50 concessions and £14 for families. Telephone 01261 818181.

  • To find out more about Historic Scotland educational activities see the website at www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/education_unit.

  • Duff House dates back to the middle of the 18th century. By the 20th century it ceased being a family home and was turned into a hotel.

For further information


Kate Turnbull
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959
kate.turnbull@scotland.gsi.gov.uk