Frank C. Bostock - 'The Animal King'

Where: The Old Church, N16
When: 2018 /19
Topic: Victorians / Animal Welfare
Year group: Yr 2 & Yr 5

Commissioned by:

Associate Artists at:

Participating Schools:




When Wild Beasts Roamed The Country

We’re delighted to be working in collaboration with Gobbledegook who have taken up residence as one of six Associate Artists at The Old Church, Stoke Newington. Frauke Franz, Gobbledegook’s Artistic Director invited us to take part in their exciting project ‘When Wild Beasts Roamed the Country‘ to deliver art ed to local primary schools around the theme of Victorian travelling menageries through the eyes of Frank C. Bostock a renowned wild animal trainer of the time.

Bostock was from a family of landowners and animal handlers who developed the traveling menagerie to accommodate the performance of wild animals as a form of entertainment with educational value. His expert knowledge at the time, unique methods of working with animals and survival of more than one wild cat attack earned him the name ‘The Animal King’. His grave, notably that of a sleeping, marble lion, can be found in the beautiful Abney Park Cemetery.

Our role in the project is to co-devise and deliver two blocks of art based activity with local primary schools to aid research which will inform Gobbledegook’s development of an exciting interactive installation.

Our first block of art ed included two yr.5 classes from William Patten and two yr.2 classes from Tyssen Community School. During these creative sessions with school children, we explored the fascination that the Victorians had with wild animals through taxidermy, toys and the fashion of their times. A dressing-up activity got teachers, parents and children eagerly involved and a catwalk finale brought out the wild side of our model performers. Incredible outfits and lively discussions around the topic of animal welfare saw an emotionally charged and highly creative art session kick start the project.

To learn more about the project and Gobbledegook’s plans for an interactive installation at The Old Church which will premiere in June 2019 – Visit here

“The session was really well considered and the children enjoyed it tremendously. It gave the children an opportunity to explore their local area and consolidated their knowledge of local history.

I really appreciated the opportunity for the children to practice their oracy skills during discussions on Victorian interest in taxidermy.  I was also very impressed with how they could categorise natural and synthetic fabric and showed me how their scientific enquiry skills could be used practically.”

Following completion of the project – A personal note to Gobbledegook:

“The children have so enjoyed their sessions with you – they have been so imaginative and well thought out. A lot of the children have mentioned working with Gobbledegook as one of their highlights for the year in their end-of-year reviews. Thank you so much to you and Art Hoppers for a wonderful time this year. I’m sure the school would love to work with you again.”

Marion Kiely

Year 5 Teacher, William Patten Primary School

Image gallery

Our first art ed sessions at The Old Church with yr.5 children at William Patten & yr.2 at Tyssen. Photos: Sean Westgate, Gobbledegook.

Stats about this project

  • Dressing-up 50% 50%
  • Role-play 50% 50%

Applied art disciplines

Number of participants