Architecture Appreciation: Building of the English Church C320-1901

Ref: C2223641

The course seeks to turn course members into amateur architectural historians through a chronological and thematic examination of the development of English ecclesiastical architecture from the Saxons to the Victorians.

Course aim

To enable course members to carry out systematic examinations of parish churches in England so as to form reasonably reliable, independent judgements about their history and building development.

Who is the course for?

All comers

What topics will this course cover

This course will provide a chronological treatment of the development of the Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Gothic Revival styles of English ecclesiastical architecture through to 1901, it will examine a few individual themes including seventeenth and eighteenth century church sculpture and the effect on mediaeval church building of local geology, and it will provide opportunity for course members to examine a few local churches for themselves and to put what they have learnt into practice “in the field”.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Recognise common features and styles of church architecture. 2. Carry out systematic examinations of church buildings. 3. Form independent judgements about their history. 4. Suggest the likely sequence of a church’s development through time.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Through discussion, especially about the conclusions course members draw from the churches they visit on the inclusive field trips.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?


Reading and information sources

None is essential. Copies of the county volume of The Buildings of England (Yale University Press) and an illustrated glossary of architectural terms such as Harris and Lever’s Illustrated Glossary of Architecture, 850-1830 (Faber) would be helpful.

What could the course lead to?

Greater enjoyment in visiting English churches - potentially a source of endless interest and fascination, whether in town or the countryside and either from home or on holiday!

Download full course outline

Architecture Appreciation: Building of the English Church C320-1901 Course Outline


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  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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