The Richard Lander Chest

Have you ever wanted to become an explorer and set off across uncharted territory, uncovering new regions and leaving a record of all your adventures for others to read? Well, this chest will help you feel what it was like to be an early explorer by retracing the footsteps of Richard Lander, the intrepid Cornish explorer who set off from England in 1830 to discover the source of the River Niger and help open up West Africa as we know it today.

Using a specially created story of a young Richard Lander who set off on foot for London from Truro, young people will be able to imagine this extraordinary journey into a distant and seemingly dangerous land. Through a battered copy of Richard Lander’s journal of 1830 -1831 children can explore his day to day adventures among native peoples and the trials and tribulations him and his brother encountered. They will be able to link these stories to a beautiful old map charting his progress across the continent.

To embed the amazing adventures of Richard Lander in children’s minds and enrich and stimulate their imaginations, this resource contains ideas for a series of follow on activities including role play, art, story making, geography, history and literacy.

Age: This resource is suitable for children aged 7 to 11.

Key Themes: World Explorers, Local Historical Figures, History, Geography, Africa, Cornwall

Interested in this resource/workshops?

As with all our suitcases, there are a number of options on how they can be used. This suitcase is stored at The Royal Cornwall Museum and is £10 for schools and groups to borrow. Within the suitcase you will find a detailed plan covering a range of activities that have been developed by Storylines. You can either choose to guide children through these yourselves or decide to bring in workshop leaders from Storylines, a Cornish Community Interest Company that specialises in delivering narrative focused and creative workshops for a day-long workshop (details below). For this resource there is also the option of bringing in illustrator Felicity Tattersall to work with you in the museum for a creative workshop exploring Richard Lander’s medicine chest.


A suggested timescale for this work could be from 3 days to a whole term if it was part of a Cornwall wide theme about famous Cornish figures.

We suggest a minimum of half a day for introducing the theme of explorers and Richard Lander to children through the short story and diary entries. To embed these stories in their minds we recommend spending another half a day to visually recreate some of the stories through the Richard Lander ‘Selfie’ activity and match these up to the map of his journey.

Other activities detailed in the resource could be run over subsequent days, with multiple opportunities for literacy, art, story-making, role play, geography and history.

A visit to see Richard Lander’s medicine chest, which is on display at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, is highly recommended. This resource includes ideas on how to explore this in the museum. There is also the option of bringing in workshop leader and illustrator Felicity Tattersall to work with you in the museum (more details below).

Additional support…

For the Richard Lander Chest the following support is available and you can pick and choose depending on what you feel most comfortable with delivering yourself and also your budget-

  • An immersive day-long workshop in your classroom led by Storylines. This workshop introduces Richard Lander through incredible stories of travel and adventure. Children will transform these stories into artworks and creative writing. Full day- £250* (includes 2 Storylines practitioners, all materials)
  • 5 hour workshop at the Royal Cornwall Museum with illustrator Felicity Tattersall. This session focuses on exploring Richard Lander’s medicine chest. Children will be able to experiment with drawing as a storytelling technique and create their own concertina book using creative writing and drawing to document their own imaginary journey inspired by Lander’s travels. 1.5 hours (Wednesday’s and Thursdays only)- £70 (includes all materials).

*Don’t forget, the Cornwall Heritage Trust provides travel grants to help schools visit heritage sites.

To enquire about the availability of the suitcase and/or accompanying workshops, please contact the Learning Team at the Royal Cornwall Museum: 



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