Country Life 1700-1900

Ref: C2224623

The years between 1700 and 1900 saw major changes in the landscape, society and economy of rural East Anglia. In this course we follow these changes and consider their effects both on the physical appearance of the countryside, and on different social groups. Using a variety of written, pictorial and material evidence, we consider the process of enclosure and its economic and social significance. We look at the role of the great estates and the influence of the squire and the parson on rural society. We focus on the lives of the labouring poor and the rural unrest that flared from time to time as a result of changes or conditions. The 19th century saw the external influences of urbanization and industrialization, and competition from American and Australia, and we study the depression and diversification in agriculture that resulted from this, and the new opportunities that were afforded by industrial and transport developments, and the establishment of colonies.

Course aim

To explore the character and variety of rural life, from the great landowners to the agricultural labourers, during a period of great economic and social change.

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:

  • Identify key factors of the changes in rural landscapes and rural life during the period
  • Discuss and explain some details of social structure in rural England in the period and its effects on rural society
  • Explore using source materials to develop knowledge of rural unrest in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Participate in group or plenary discussions on the impact of enclosure and the influence of the great estates
  • Apply your knowledge of the period and themes to new materials

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?

  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided

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
  • A booklist will be provided to the branch so that books from the library can be made available to students

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could undertake individual research, or be part of a group undertaking a local history project. Interest in using original material might encourage you to undertake a course to pursue your interest further

Download full Course information sheet

Country Life 1700-1900


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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