YOUNGSTERS from four schools in the Dorch-ester area enjoyed some hands-on history as a new community hall was officially launched.

Antiques Roadshow expert Paul Atterbury was among the guests at the event at Sunninghill Preparatory School’s new community hall, which has been given the name ‘The Place with the Stage’ by pupils.

The Year Seven pupils from Sunninghill were joined by counterparts from St Mary’s Middle School in Puddletown, St Osmund’s in Dorchester and Dorchester Middle School for the launch event as they examined old photos and a range of unusual artefacts.

Guy Schwinge from Duke’s Auctioneers, Lucy Allen from the Dorchester Dig community play and Pippa Brindley from Dorset County Museum joined Mr Atterbury to offer expert advice on the day.

Sunninghill headteacher Andrew Roberts-Wray said the school had taken over the leasehold of the hall at the Holy Trinity Parish Centre from the church and this was the start of a range of events that would bring in the local community.

He said: “The idea is to get the hall being used as a community hall and use it to spread education and work together with the local community.”

Mr Roberts-Wray said the next event the hall will host would bring in local businesses and said the launch event was a perfect example of how the hall could be used to bring children from across the community together and enliven their learning.

He said: “We are trying to give the children a very practical history lesson so that history comes alive and for them it’s about how they can use real sources and real artefacts to help us in our understanding of the past.”

The range of historical objects the children got to get to grips with included a Cromwellian helmet, a Roman marble head and an Elizabethan painting.

Mr Atterbury, who lives in Weymouth, said he was pleased to see the youngsters getting a hands-on history lesson.

He said: “I became interested in objects and their history by handling things and seeing things and it’s about trying to break down the barrier of the glass case.

“I have been taught to extract the stories from those objects and hopefully we can teach the children to do the same.”

Year Seven Sunninghill pupil Sennen Barlow said it was interesting to see the different historical objects and enjoyed welcoming the pupils from the three other schools to the new hall.

She said: “It’s really good because we have made friends with them.”