Alton Castle

Day 1:

After a bright and early start, our first stop was the Staffordshire Regiment Museum.

 A huge thank you to the volunteers who do not normally work on a Monday, but who came in especially for us.  The museum staff had worked hard to make the visit particularly meaningful for the children and told us numerous facts about Harpenden and London boroughs during the war.

We tried on various British WWII uniforms:

We learned about other safety items issued during WWII including helmets and various gas masks:

We visited replica trenches and air raid shelters:

We talked about the Dig for Victory initiative:

 We experienced the frightening sounds of an air raid:

We learned about a range of weapons which soldiers used:

Later that afternoon we arrived at Alton Castle:

The theme of the retreat was discipleship and the children worked in groups to explore which qualities they would need to demonstrate to show that they were worthy disciples.

These qualities included: team work, kindness, perseverance, resilience, encouragement, strength, honesty, respect, love, service, prayer, sacrifice, living joyfully and studying the Bible.

Throughout the retreat, the children were brought back  to the overall theme of discipleship and were encouraged to reflect on ways they had shown these qualities.

Happy to be off the coach!

During our evening meal, many children displayed great will power and abstained from eating the chocolate pudding in order to follow their Lenten promise of giving up chocolate.


The first evening was a carousel of indoor activities (due to the weather) :  bucket ball, archery and an opportunity to visit St John the Baptist church on site.

Bucket ball:


St John the Baptist church:

We learned about the history of the church as a girls' school and chapel and spent time examining the stories of St Barbara and St Catherine of Alexandria both of whom are celebrated as prominent statues at either side of the altar.

The evening ended with a drink of hot chocolate and atmospheric, candle-lit evening prayers during which small groups were given the opportunity to voice their prayers aloud for people who needed support.

Evening drinks:

Day 2:

Following breakfast and morning prayers, the children spent two hours trekking, cycling, climbing or taking part in a survival activity.

Each activity included an element of reflection, discussion and prayer, and through these activities the children were challenged and encouraged to find hidden strength, learn new skills and experience achievement as part of a team and as individuals.

Survival activity:


We met collectively for a shared lunch and then separated into groups for a second activity from the list above.

After a period of free time and a shared dinner, we all gathered to practise for Mass.  Several children who had demonstrated discipleship throughout the day were chosen by the team of staff at Alton Castle to carry the offertory, perform tasks as altar servers and read the gospel, psalm and prayers during Mass.

The evening continued with a time to relax together taking part in party games, Prayer-robics and a disco.

Candle lit evening prayers followed with a time to personally ask for God's support during open prayer.

Day 3:

Our final morning was a busy one as bags had to be packed and rooms cleared before breakfast at 8:30.  Following morning prayers we took part in our final activity on a beautiful sunny, spring morning.

Preparing to cycle:

Survival activity:

Adventure course:

Souvenirs were purchased and after our final shared lunch, we said our goodbyes.  Many children were keen to stay longer and were sad to say goodbye to the young leaders who were not only excellent role models but had become new friends.

Thank you parents for your generous gifts to the staff who accompanied the children.


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