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We offer an exceptional range of history and culture courses, including; family history and genealogy, art and music appreciation, literature, architecture, religion and philosophy. Our tutors are experts both in their subjects and in drawing parallels with our lives today. Our history and culture classes are active, and you will have opportunities to get involved and develop your research skills. We also offer trips and day schools. (See also – languages and writing)

1066 and all that - Herefordshire from Alfred the Great to Henry I View details

Herefordshire was one of the few areas of Midland England that avoided the Viking raids. It was annexed as part of Alfred’s kingdom and ruled by his daughter Aethelflaed. Hereford itself became a ‘burh’ –a fortified town – and subsequently a new shire was established as an area of tribute around it. This flourished until the Norman Conquest when Herefordshire became a militarized zone, intensively covered in earthwork castles, as the Normans set-out to annex Wales. This situation is reflected in Domesday Book (1086), which provides a unique portrait of the social and economic state of the region and suggests the framework for a discussion of the church and the revival of urban life. These issues will all be discussed and illustrated in this course.

A Guide to Understanding Paintings View details

The fourth instalment of our stroll through western art history, this course aims to increase your enjoyment when looking at paintings through a series of lectures on artists and their lives, this time including Rembrandt, Matisse, Magritte, British War Artists and some Contemporary Art for good measure...

A Spot of Bother:Private affairs with very public consequences medieval & modern View details

On so many occasions in history what ought to have been private matters - claims for inheritances and romantic attachments - have become big news in a very public way and affected a whole country, usually due to the social standing of the people involved. Come along to a relaxed and enjoyable class to find out more about a mixture of such cases ranging from the medieval to modern period where lives have taken such a turn.

A Taste of History View details

Have you ever wondered what frumenty was, or what Roman Army bread was like? What happened when potatoes arrived in Britain? How important was the invention of baking powder? Do you call the mid-day meal lunch or dinner, and why? We will explore how the food on our plate, and the ways we eat it, has changed over time. Each session will focus on a particular period of history and as part of the session we will cook a key dish together to illustrate - and illuminate - how people cooked and ate at the time. Students can join in the practical cooking as much or as little as they wish and no previous experience is necessary.

Alfred The Great - Who was he? View details

Overcoming many personal and political problems ‘who was hopeful in defeat and generous in success’, noted author Charles Dickens, Alfred is the only English monarch to be known as ‘The Great’. That said, some have hinted his achievements have been significantly exaggerated.

American Art (1850-1990) View details

A leisurely stroll through American Art, starting with James Whistler in the 1850s, through to the War years with Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionists, then the invention of Pop and Conceptual Art with Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol, and finishing with the embrace of Street Art with Jean Michel Basquiat in the 1980s

An Exploration of Orwell's Essays View details

George Orwell's essays are in many people's opinion the best of his work. They cover an extraordinary variety of subjects and provide a unique insight into his intellectual and other preoccupations and the state of society at the time he was writing. You will be expected to read one or two of the essays a week (you will be notified which ones in good time) and come along prepared to discuss them, You may disagree wholeheartedly with an essay (or essays) but that is all to the good!. A lively exchange of ideas is the main purpose of these sessions. The essays themselves are entertaining and clearly written but repay close reading. It's sometimes said that Orwell's voice is still needed today. Come along and make his acquaintance.

An Introduction to Modern Art View details

How modern is modern art? Actually, not very! Not to be confused with 'contemporary art' the majority of commentators agree that the term 'modern art' describes artistic works produced during a period extending very roughly from the 1860s to the late-1960s or 1970s, denoting the various avant-garde styles and philosophies of the art produced during that time period. The term is also usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been rejected in a spirit of experimentation and innovation, now frequently identified as Modernist (or, Modernism). As something of a taster series, this five-week course offers an opportunity to situate the emergence and evolution of modern art within a historical and cultural context and to identify a range of its characteristics, influences, developments, art movements and major practitioners.

And Before Shakespeare - Gammer Gurton's Needle View details

The explosion of drama onto the Elizabethan stage may seem to spring fully formed from nowhere. But, of course, as Shakespeare himself observed, nothing will come of nothing. There is imput from classical and contemporary European drama, but England too had a rich, developing history of drama, before theatre. Starting from a religious base, simple bible tales were transformed into realistic, and often comic, drama. Gradually invented stories commenting satirically on the original appear, then allegorical plays and by the sixteenth century plays produced simply for entertainment. “Gammer Gurton’s Needle”, is possibly the earliest English farce, and like the miracle and morality plays that preceded it, presents an every-day story of country folk. The crux of the matter is: where is Gammer’s needle? We will begin with a 2 hour session, followed by a lunch break and two one and a half our sessions with a tea break.

Art and Music - Anniversaries and Exhibitions 2020 View details

Each session we will explore a topical subject concerning the history of the arts. It may be related to an anniversary, such as Raphael (died 1520) or a current London exhibition to be announced.