Secrets of Country Houses

Ref: C3744850

In this course we will look at five country houses/estates that have been used on film and TV sets in the last few years. We will analyse the architecture, dip into the history of the house concerned and see just where and how they appeared on the screen. Houses to be considered will include: Highclere (Downton Abbey), Broughton Castle (Shakespeare in Love), Laycock Abbey (Wolf Hall and Harry Potter), Ham House (Anna Karenina and others), Groombridge (Pride and Prejudice). Most houses are in the South East for ease of visiting.

Course aim

So which famous house was that? This course explores some of the famous houses that have been used in the South East as sets for film and TV.

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 at least 3-4 houses that are regularly used as sets on TV and film.
  • Recognise at least two different architectural styles that have been used in the build of large country houses
  • Recount the history of at least three country houses that have been studied during the course
  • Understand at least 2 of the arguments relating to the preservation of country houses
  • Visit country houses with knowledge of their architecture and history and their uses today.

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 be encouraged to visit the houses and to bring and discuss writing, books or artefacts relating to aspects of the course

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
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • Students will be given an observation sheet to take with them each time they visit a house.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • 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
  • 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
  • This course could act as a beginning for heritage work or volunteer work with organisations like the National Trust

Download full course information sheet

Secrets of Country Houses


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • 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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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