Interesting Facts and Information about Mary Seacole

Like Florence Nightingale, Mary Seacole made a name for herself by helping wounded and sick soldiers during the Crimean War. Although Mary Seacole was well-known in Victorian Britain, she was almost completely forgotten following her death in 1881. Recently, however,  historians have been paying more attention to the role she played in treating the sick during her lifetime.

Here are some interesting facts about Mary Seacole.

Mary Secole Facts – Before the Crimean War

  • Mary was born in 1805 in Kingston, Jamaica.
  • Her father was a Scottish soldier and her mother was Jamaican.
  • Mary Seacole was mixed-race and described herself as ‘Creole’.
  • Mary’s mother ran a boarding house in Kingston. Many of the guests were disabled and injured European soldiers.
  • Her mother taught Mary to care for the sick and injured soldiers by using herbal rememdies and traditional Jamaican and African folk treatments.
  • Mary was able to read and write, but it is not clear whether or not she attended school.
  • Unlike most women of the time, Mary Seacole travelled a lot. Before setting off for the Crimea, Mary had spent time in Panama, Haiti and Cuba. During her travels, she spent time helping sick and injured people. She gained lots of experience treating people suffering with cholera, yellow fever and other tropical diseases.

Mary Seacole and the Crimean War

  • As soon as she heard about the suffering of the soldiers in the Crimean War, she wanted to travel to Turkey to help them. Mary asked the British War Office to send her to the conflict to help treat the wounded, but her request was refused. Mary also wasn’t chosen to be one of the nurses to accompany Florence Nightingale to the Crimea.
  • Mary Seacole decided to make her own way to the Crimea. She borrowed the money for the 4000 mile journey and came up with a business plan that would allow her to tend to the injured and wounded soldiers.
  • Mary set up the British Hotel, located only two miles away from the conflict itself. She rented rooms to injured soldiers and sold food and equipment to the troops. Mary spent the money on caring for the wounded soldiers from both sides.
  • Mary ran a daily clinic to nurse the sick soldiers and she was often spotted treating wounds on the battlefield – something Florence Nightingale never did.
  • Mary was known as Mother Seacole by the soldiers she cared for.

Mary Seacole’s Life After the Crimean War

  • Mary was very poor after the end of the Crimean War in 1856. She returned both broke and in ill-health.
  • A charity gala was held London in her honour. Over 80,ooo people attended.
  • Mary Seacole wrote a book about her experiences. It’s called Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands and it was very popular when it was published in 1857.
  • She died in 1881 and was buried in Kensal Green, London.

Take a look at some facts and information about some of the other famous Victorians.

15 Nile Crocodile Facts

Here are some fascinating facts about the Nile crocodile.

  1. The latin name for Nile Crocodile is Crocodylus niloticus.
  2. Nile crocodiles can live to be over 40 years old.
  3. They can grow to be about 6 metres long and can weigh over 700 kg.
  4. They are the largest species of crocodilian in Africa.
  5. Nile crocodiles are carnivores (they eat only meat). They mainly eat fish, but will also go for small hippos, zebras and birds if they get the chance. They will also eat carrion (the meat from animals that they haven’t killed themselves).
  6. Nile crocodiles will also attack and eat humans. Each year it is estimated that between 100 and 200 people are killed by these reptiles.
  7. The Nile crocodile nearly became extinct in the middle of the twentieth century, but they are now a protected species and the population has risen.

Facts about the Nile Crocodile in Ancient Egypt

  1. Mummified crocodiles and their eggs have been found in the tombs of Ancient Egyptians.
  2. The Nile crocodiles were worshipped in Ancient Egypt and the god Sobek had the head of a crocodile.
  3. The goddess Ammut (the female devourer) was also associated with the Nile crocodile.
  4. Crocodiles often appeared in tomb carvings.
  5.  The moat around a fort at Sile was apparently filled with Nile crocodiles.
  6. The Ancient Egyptians did hunt the Nile crocodile using harpoons.
  7. Attempts were made to tame crocodiles and they were often kept in the houses of rich people where they were decorated with jewels and allowed to roam freely!
  8. The Ancient Egyptians believed that praying to Sobek would protect you against being attacked by Nile crocodiles.

Find out more about the Nile River and the Ancient Egyptians by following these links.

21 Dick King-Smith Facts

The British author Dick King-Smith is probably best known for his children’s books about animals. He wrote his first book in 1978, and his stories are still being read by children all over the world.

Here are some facts about Dick King-Smith. Hopefully you’ll find out something you didn’t know about this great children’s writer.

  1. Dick King-Smith was born on 27th March 1922 and he died on 4th January 2011. He was aged 88.
  2. He said that he had a very happy childhood, living in the countryside in Somerset.
  3. His father owned and ran several paper mills.
  4. Dick King-Smith went to school at Marlborough College, a famous public school.
  5. He joined the Army in 1939 and served in the Grenadier Guards. He was mostly fighting in Italy and he took part in the Salerno landings.
  6. Dick King-Smith was wounded in Florence during World War Two and he was forced to return home to England.
  7. Dick married his childhood girlfriend, Myrle, on 6th February 1943.
  8. After the war ended, he became the manager of a farm owned by his Dad’s company.
  9. Dick and Myrle had three children – two daughters (Juliet and Lizzie) and one son (Giles).
  10. Unfortunately, Dick’s farm was forced to close (because the family paper mill company went out of business) and he had to find a new job. He tried his hand at selling fire-fighting equipment and working in a shoe factory before he decided to train to be a teacher.
  11. Dick King-Smith was a teacher at Farmborough Primary School.
  12. Dick King-Smith’s first book, The Fox Busters, was published in 1978.
  13. Once he started writing books for children, Dick found it hard to stop. He has written over one hundred children’s books and at one point he was writing about eight every year.
  14. His most famous book is called The Sheep Pig and this was turned into the film Babe.
  15. Dick often appeared on the TV series Rub-A-Dub Tub and Pob.
  16. His house was called Diamond Cottage (in Somerset) and his writing office was right at the very top.
  17. He wrote all of his first drafts in pen and he typed them up on an old typewriter.
  18. Dick loved animals. He had pet dogs called Susie and Dodo, pet rats and mice, and he enjoyed breeding budgies, geese and rabbits.
  19. Myrle, Dick’s wife, passed away in 2000.
  20. Dick King-Smith was awarded an OBE in 2010.
  21. His final book was published in 2007 and it was called The Mouse Family Robinson.

What next? Learn more about other famous children’s authors.

Facts About Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale was a famous nurse. She is best known for the work she did to care for the wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, but she also made a big contribution to changing the way in which hospitals were run. She was a celebrity in Victorian times and she has continued to be spoken and written about to this day.

We’ve put together some great Florence Nightingale facts for kids, teachers and parents – we hope you find this information both useful and interesting.

Key Florence Nightingale Facts – (Before the Crimean War)

  • Florence Nightingale was born in Florence (Italy) on 12th May 1820.
  • Her mother was called Fanny and her father was called William. Florence also had an older sister called Parthenope. They were a very wealthy family.
  • Florence grew up mingling with other rich children and spent much of her time visiting friends and attending parties.
  • On 7th February 1837, when she was 16 years, old Florence was convinced that she had heard the voice of God calling to her. She believed that God wanted her to carry out some special work.
  • When she was in her twenties Florence began to take an interest in how the sick people in the villages around her home (in Romsey, Hampshire) were taken care of. She started to believe that God wanted her to be a nurse.
  • Her parents were both shocked and angry when she told them that she wanted to learn more about nursing  at a Salisbury hospital. At the time nearly all nurses came from poor families.
  • Florence and some of her friends visited Kaiserwerth (in what is now Germany). The town was home to a hospital famous for training nurses. One year later, in 1851, Florence Nightingale recieved three months training at the hospital in Kaiserwerth.
  • Florence returned home as a trained nurse. She put these skills to good use as from 1851 – 1853 she cared for her mother, father and sister who had all become ill.
  • In 1853, when she was 33, she took a job running a small private hospital in London’s Harley Street.
  • Her father realised that Florence was really serious about helping the sick and injured and promised to pay her £500 a year. This was a massive sum of money in Victorian times.
  • In 1854 Florence helped to tend people suffering from cholera.

Florence NightingaleFlorence Nightingale and the Crimean War

  • In 1854 the Crimean War started between the Turks (and the British and French) on one side and the Russians on the other.
  • William Russell, a journalist for The Times, reported that British troops were dying becasue there weren’t enough doctors, nurses and medical supplies.
  • Sidney Herbert, a friend of Florence’s and the member of the government in charge of the military, wrote to her and asked her to organise a group of nurses and head for the Crimea (in Turkey).
  • On 4th November 1854 Florence Nightingale and 38 other nurses arrived at Scutari, an area of the city of Constantiople. The main British hospital was located there and Florence was not impressed by the conditions. The hospital was dirty, the drains were blocked, rats and fleas were everywhere.
  • At first the doctors did not want the help of Florence Nightingale and her nurses, but they soon changed their minds when the number of wounded soldiers continued to grow.
  • Florence made lots of improvements to the hospital in Scutari. She had the drains cleaned, sorted out a supply of drinking water, filled the hospital stores with clean sheets and bandages, set up a nursing timetable and made sure that the soliders were well fed and cared for.
  • Florence became very popular. The soldiers used to call her the ‘Lady with the Lamp’ because she used to walk the hospital wards at night to check on her patients.
  • The Crimean War ended in 1856 and Florence returned to England. She was a national heroine and many Victorians bought ornaments of Florence Nightingale to display in their homes. Florence also received thousands of letters from the public thanking her for the work she had performed during the war.
  • Queen Victoria invited Florence to meet with her in Balmoral, Scotland. They discussed Florence’s experiences and how military hospitals could be improved.

Life After the Lamp – Facts About the Second Half of Florence Nightingale’s Life

  • In 1859 Florence Nightingale wrote a book about caring for the sick called Notes on Nursing.
  • Florence Nightingale was convinced that all nurses should be properly trained, and in 1860 she set up the Nightingale Training School (for nurses) at St Thomas’s Hospital, London. The nurses who completed the training were known as Nightingale Nurses.
  • Florence carried on writing letters and reports about ways to improve health care. Her work became known in other countries and the Nightingale Nurses often went to work abroad, sharing Florence’s methods and ideas.
  • From 1861 to 1865, Florence gave advice on how best to care for soldiers wounded in the American Civil War.
  • Florence Nightingale was awarded the Royal Red Cross (from Queen Victoria) and the Order of Merit in 1907 (from King Edward VII). This was the first time the Order of Merit had been awarded to a woman.
  • Florence Nightingale died in 1910, aged 90. She is buried in a Hampshire churchyard. Her simple tombstone bears only her initials and the years in which she was born and died.

Florence Nightingale wasn’t the only women who made a name for herself by caring for the wounded troops of the Crimean War. Check out some facts about Mary Seacole, another Victorian lady who risked her life to tend the suffering soldiers, and read about some of the other famous Victorians.

Facts About Victorian Schools and Classrooms

In 1880 a law was passed making it compulsory for every child in Britain between the ages of 5 and 10 to attend school.

Lots of new schools were opened in Victorian times, but they were very different from the schools of today.

What were Victorian classrooms like?

  • In the first half of the 1800s, classes were massive. Sometimes there were more than 100 pupils in every class.
  • The Victorian classroom was often referred to as the schoolroom.
  • Victorian pupils sat at iron-framed desks. These were usually bolted to the floor in rows facing the front of the classroom.
  • The walls of a Victorian school were often completely bare.
  • The floor of the schoolrooms were tiered (a bit like in a cinema). The children sitting at the back of the room were higher up than those sitting at the front. This meant that all of the children had a good view of the teacher and the blackboard, but it also meant that the teacher had a good view of them.
  • The windows in a Victorian classroom were high up (to stop pupils looking out of the window) and the rooms were lit by gaslights. As a result, the schoolrooms were gloomy and often stuffy.
  • Sometimes different classrooms were only divided from the others by curtains. This meant that it was very easy to hear noise coming from other lessons.
  • Although lots of schools were built during the Victorian era, not a great deal of money was spent on taking care of the buildings. Victorian schools were often quite shabby and in need of repair.

What did Victorian children learn? What were Victorian lessons like?

Most Victorian lessons involved listening to the teacher and copying sentences from the blackboard. There was very little partner work or group work and very little chance for pupils to discuss their ideas and ask questions.

Here are some more facts about Victorian lessons:

  • The most important lessons were the ‘three Rs’ – reading, writing and arithmetic (maths).
  • Pupils had to chant things (the times-table facts, for example) out loud until they could do it without making a mistake.
  • Victorian pupils also received lessons in history and geography.
  • Some lessons were called ‘object lessons’. Items (such as models, seeds, rocks and pictures) were placed on each pupil’s desk. The pupils were meant to make observations about the object in front of them. Most science lessons were taught in this way.
  • PE lessons were called ‘drill’ and usually took place in the playground. The children didn’t get changed for PE and the lessons involved lots of jogging on the spot, marching, stretching and lifting weights (dumbbells).
  • In the afternoons the girls and boys did different lessons. The boys were taught woodworking (and some schools also taught farming, shoe-making and gardening). The girls were taught how to cook meals, how to do embroidery and how to complete housework (such as washing and ironing).

What equipment did Victorian pupils use? What did they write on?

  • Children often wrote on slates instead of paper. They scratched the letters onto the slate with a sharpened piece of slate (which they held like a pencil). The writing on the slate could easily be removed and slates could be used again and again. This saved the school money as paper was expensive.
  • The very youngest children used to practise writing letters in sand-trays.
  • Older children used pen and ink to write in their ‘copybooks’. Each child had an inkwell and a fountain pen. It was the job of the ink monitor to fill the inkwells each morning.
  • Children were taught to write in a handwriting style called ‘copperplate’ and left-handed children were often forced to write with their right hands.
  • Victorian classrooms often had an abacus and a globe.

How were Victorian pupils punished if they misbehaved?

Discipline in Victorian schools was very harsh.

Here are some examples of Victorian punishments:

  • Teachers often beat pupils using a cane. Canes were mostly made out of birch wood. Boys were usually caned on their backsides and girls were either beaten on their bare legs or across their hands. A pupil could receive a caning for a whole range of different reasons, including: rudeness, leaving a room without permission, laziness, not telling the truth and playing truant (missing school).
  • Victorian pupils who couldn’t keep up in lessons were often made to wear a ‘dunce’s cap’ (usually made of newspaper) or told to put on an armband or badge with the word ‘dunce’ written on it. The Victorian teachers thought that the pupil would be embarrassed into making more of an effort.
  • In some schools (mostly in Scotland), Victorian children were beaten with a ‘tawse’ (a vicious-looking leather strap).
  • ‘Punishment baskets’ were used in some Victorian classrooms to suspend badly behaved children from the ceiling. The pupil was made to sit in a wicker basket and was then raised from the ground by ropes and pulleys.
  • Sometimes pupils were given lines. They often had to write out the same sentence over 100 without making a single mistake.
  • All of the punishments handed out by Victorian teachers were recorded in the school’s ‘punishment book’.

What were Victorian teachers like?

Here are some useful facts about Victorian teachers:

  • In Victorian schools there were more female teachers than male ones.
  • Victorian pupils were expected to call a male teacher ‘Sir’ and a female teacher ‘Madam’ or ‘Miss’.
  • Older pupils were sometimes given the job of teaching the younger pupils. They were known as ‘pupil teachers’.

Click here to find out more about the Victorians.