Deciphering Cornish Medieval Churches

Ref: C3529082

Cornwall's medieval churches are not simple, but complex and little understood structures. This course will look at how and why churches evolved from simple chancel-nave plans, sometimes with narrow additional side aisles, towards three-hall plans with aisles as wide as the nave and impressive west towers. The course will run as two full day workshops.

Course aim

This course introduces different architectural styles e.g. Romanesque and Gothic, explores the wider social, economic and political context for church building and considers the wealth of visual and documentary sources available for Cornwall.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • May be useful for beginners to become familiar with some basic church terminology e.g. transept, aisle, chancel etc. before course starts.

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

  • Differentiate between different architectural styles e.g. Romanesque and Gothic.
  • Use some architectural terminology e.g. ogee, four-centered.
  • Discuss how church buildings were enlarged and how that may have been funded.
  • Explain how and why the Reformation fossilised many church plans.

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
  • Students will not be discouraged from conducting independent study outside the classroom, but this is not compulsory.

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 happy to discuss any issues re progress 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
  • Notepads and pens. Internet access would be helpful e.g. for googling the meaning of words in class, but again not essential.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • J. Mattingly, Looking at Cornish Churches (2005), AA Exploring Britain's Churches & Chapels (2011), P. Beacham & N. Pevsner's Cornwall (2014), N. Orme, Cornwall and the Cross - Christianity 500-1560 (2007) etc.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full Course information sheet

Deciphering Cornish Medieval Churches


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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