Behind the Scenes: Improving Life in the Country House

Ref: C2340117

Looking around country houses, we may get an impression of comfort and even luxury, but what did it take to create comfort in these houses? Indeed, was that even possible? We will consider each element week by week: how the basics were provided, what developments took place, and why they took so long to reach the larger houses. We will also look at the lives of those who rose early and, in some instances, went to bed late, too. Bearing in mind that those who provided the comfort were hired, paid and fired by the steward, is it so surprising that few employers gave their servants much thought? Until the situation became more difficult after WW1, servants, like money were rarely, if ever, discussed. Local houses such as Canons Ashby, Drayton and Kelmash Hall, will be included with other examples from across the country.

Course aim

To give an idea of how country houses were run from the point of view of the servants - from behind the scenes.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Give examples of the basics needed for comfortable life in the country house
  • Begin to identify levels of comfort in a particular house
  • Consider the lives of servants in a particular house
  • Pursue further reading on topics raised
  • Find out more about houses I might like to visit

How will I be taught?

  • Weekly handouts will be provided, and you are encouraged to read through to reinforce the teaching and learning, and help you identify any queries.

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • If you are able to visit a country house before the course starts, this could be helpful, but is not essential.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • Visits to houses mentioned during the course will help to reinforce your learning

Download full course information sheet

Behind the Scenes: Improving Life in the Country House


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  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
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  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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