Broad-Church or Superstition - Cornish folk-lore and culture explored

Ref: C3528504

Cornwall is well known for its folk customs e.g. the Padstow Obby Oss, Helston Furry Day, St Columb Major hurling etc. with some living customs going back to the medieval catholic 'broad church' days of St George and Robin Hood. Recent revivals include Golowan, and new customs crop up usually 'following a discussion in the pub'. This course will explore possible origins, seasonality, sense of place, purpose, form, change etc. of many Cornish customs; from Parker's Edwardian Pageants to tinners' and fishermen's superstitions.

Course aim

The course aims to introduce students to the richness of living Cornish folk traditions; to show the origins, where possible, and the changing nature of these and other lost customs, over time.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Describe how apparently very different folk customs can have a common origin.
  • Use and understand the meanings of words like secular or pagan, superstition or broad church.
  • Explain how folk customs can create a sense of place e.g. Padstow Obby Oss.
  • Classify folk customs accoriding to either seasonality or purpose.
  • List some historic threats to folk customs.

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
  • Not required, but encouraged.

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
  • The tutor will be available to discuss any issues or progression with students as required.

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • Notepad and pen. Internet use will be encouraged e.g. finding out about folk customs around the world.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • See R. Hutton, The Rise and Fall of Merry England (1994) and Stations of the Sun (1996). For Cornwall see R. Hunt, Popular Romances of the West of England (1865), M.A. Courtney, Folklore of Cornwall (1890, rep.1989) etc.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full Course information sheet

Broad-Church or Superstition - Cornish folk-lore and culture explored

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This course has been cancelled.


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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