The Story of the English Parish


1          Course Aims

The parish has been the basic unit of English social and religious society for over a thousand years. The main aim of this course is to examine the way it has developed and the influence it has had on the evolution of both our society and landscape.

2        Level / Entry Requirements: What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No previous knowledge or skills are required.

3        Main Topics: What will course cover?

The course will begin by considering how and why parishes were created and what were their original functions. This will lead to a discussion of the huge variety in parish size and shape, the reasons for this and the relationship of the parish to other social units.
We will then consider who were the important people in the parish, the officers and the various buildings and structures within it. We then turn to changes brought about by the Reformation and in particular the use of the parish made by the Government for its
own ends. This leads to the contrast between the parish in the 18th and 19th centuries. We end with the creation of Civil Parishes and the buildings associated with them.

4        Learning Outcomes: What can I expect to learn?

By the end of this course you should be able to:

          1.         Describe the original functions of the parish

          2.         Outline changes in these functions over the centuries

          3.         Identify typical buildings and structures associated with the parish and discuss their functions.

          4.         Discuss the changing significance and relevance of the parish for local communities.

5        Methods: How will l be taught?

Sessions will include introductory presentations which will lead on to analyzing  and interpreting a variety of materials. Particular emphasis will be placed on making use of evidence to be found in the landscape.
This should provide opportunity for discussion and the use of local material and examples from the students’ own experience.

6 Achievement:    How will I know I’m progressing?
 Will I be assessed?

Discussion in class will show progress. Students may like to keep folders including handouts and examples. Any personal work submitted will be welcome if the student wishes

7        Additions: Are there any other pre-course requirements, additional costs, or sessions held outside the classroom setting?

It is not anticipated that there will be any additional  costs or expenditure.
We may well have a day trip which will be organised with the agreement of class members during the early weeks of the course.

8        Progression; What could I do next?

This course could lead on to further courses of study at a variety of levels. It might also lead to students continuing their studies by individual research or group projects. It may also be helpful in a variety of situations where students participate in the life of their
local community.

9       How long will the course last?
The course will comprise 10 sessions of 1½ hours each.
Each lecture will take place on Wednesday morning in Riseley Village Hall starting at 10.15 am