History with a difference

Arthur Street School pupils Flynn Ellison and Olivia Sefo share some tea in the garden at...
Arthur Street School pupils Flynn Ellison and Olivia Sefo share some tea in the garden at Olveston House yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.

Nine pupils of Dunedin's Arthur Street School became the first Olveston House junior tour guides after a five-week course learning about the history and structure of the house.

The pupils, ranging in age from 9 to 12, spent an hour every Friday at the house, formerly owned by the Theomin family, with their Olveston guide, Joan Miskimmin, fondly known as ''Mrs M''.

As part of the final day, the pupils dressed up in period costume, shared what they had learnt, and gave tours.

Flynn Ellison (9), who wore an Irish tweed jacket, said he had learnt there was a heater behind Dorothy Theomin's dressing table.

Olivia Sefo (10) said she did not normally like wearing dresses, but she preferred the gloves.

Mrs Miskimmin, formerly a teacher, had worked at Olveston for 18 years and enjoyed taking the course.

''It has been absolutely marvellous. I love working with young people.''

Jack Hanan (11) thought the house was like Downton Abbey, while Lilly Templeton (9) wanted to know where ''Mrs M'' did her shopping, so she could see her out of the house.

Arthur Street School deputy principal Sam Keen said the school and Olveston shared Dunedin's early history, as Arthur Street was the oldest school in Dunedin.

It was the first time the school and the house had run such a course and it had been ''an adventure through time for the kids'', he said. Both the school and Olveston were keen to continue the course.

Olveston House manager Jeremy Smith said it had been an interesting exercise and other schools interested should contact Olveston, he said.

- Bridget Rutherford. 


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