The English Parish Church

Ref: C2224514

Though we think of medieval churches, many of the most interesting places of worship were built from the mid sixteenth century on. We will discover how churches were adapted to Protestant worship during the Reformation, and how church buildings reflected the struggles of the civil war period. The eighteenth century was rather more settled. This was the age of Hawksmoor’s and Gibbs’s London churches and the earliest gothic revival. There was growing tolerance of non-Anglican worship and we will look at examples of non-conformist and early Roman Catholic chapels. The nineteenth century saw a revival in high church Anglicanism and the proliferation of churches inspired by the medieval period, such as those by Pugin, Butterfield and Street. There was a return to splendour in buildings and fittings. By the end of the period Gothic styles were the norm, revived and rethought for the new century.

Course aim

A survey of churches and chapels from the Reformation to the early twentieth century, including the classical churches of the eighteenth century and the Gothic Revival in the nineteenth.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Show how the Reformation changed the earlier conventions of design and use of churches
  • Discuss the design of and influences on eighteenth century religious buildings
  • Illustrate the way that non-conformist chapels reflected the needs of the sect concerned
  • Trace the development of the Gothic Revival in nineteenth century church building

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

The English Parish Church Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • 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 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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