English: Chaucer Workshop

Chris Wheeler, Headmaster of Monkton, delivered an inspirational introduction to Chaucer to a group of our Year 7 students, stretching their imaginative, linguistic and deductive skills.

Examining the context around Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Mr. Wheeler began by asking the children whether Shakespeare could really claim the title “Father of English” – How did we communicate in the 11th century? What happened in 1066? What was the effect of this?

Mr. Wheeler’s performance of part of the General Prologue – to be applauded – was met with many a blank face.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote . . .

Not the type of comprehension exercise we were expecting!

Yet, Year 7 accepted the challenge and, in pairs, grappled with the Middle English verse, gaining confidence word by word, line by line.


Having worked towards mastering the language, the students' second challenge was to examine the portrait of The Miller, proving their comprehension through illustration and – the best bit – the opportunity to graffiti the English (and Geography!) windows.

Thank you to Mr. Wheeler for such a stimulating introduction to Middle English.