Free Taster Sessions

We are running a number of free taster sessions as part of Adult Festival of Learning (used to be called Adult Learners’ week) at the Newarke Houses Museum,  The Newarke, Leicester, LE2 7BY from Monday 12 June 2017 – Saturday 17 June 2017.

Taster sessions are as follows:  

Archaeology: Treasures of the Midlands

Monday 12 June 10.00 am – 12.00 pm

You may have heard of Tutankhamun’s tomb, but did you know there have been some amazing discoveries made right on your own doorstep? From the coins of the Hallaton Hoard to the Saxon gold of the Staffordshire Hoard and a medieval boar badge that moved a battlefield. This session will introduce you to some of these great local finds.

Tutor: Stephanie Vann

Victorian Samplers

Monday 12 June 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

The Victorians made samplers to show their skill and creativity with a needle. Embroidery has again become fashionable. In this session you will make your own version of a sampler. No experience is required, and you are welcome to come along if you already have the skills! The tutor has a small collection of samplers and books for you to look at.

Tutor:   Annie Kinchington

Booking is essential as places are limited – Please call 0116 2556614 to book a place.

The Newarke – Past and PresentTuesday 13 June 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

Learn something about the rich history of the Newarke area from its origins as the Earl of Leicester’s ‘New Work’ in the 14th Century. As we move from the medieval period to the present day we will cover a wide range of events, people and buildings, many of them now demolished. We will also consider the effects of the 17th century Civil War on this part of Leicester. Afterwards, if you wish, you can join a short optional walk around the Newarke area, to see at first hand some of the buildings that remain.

Tutor: Cynthia Brown

Booking is essential as places are limited – Please call 0116 2556614 to book a place.

Victorian Lavender Wands

Tuesday 13 June 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

The Victorians used the sweet smell of lavender to scent themselves and their linens, and as a herb for culinary and medicinal uses. Although we have access to an abundance of perfumes and smellies today, lavender is still used for its relaxing quality in aromatherapy and as a fragrance.

In this session you will learn to weave a lavender wand using ribbon and fresh lavender from the herb gardens of Newarke Houses Museum. If the lavender is not in flower, we will make dried lavender bags.

Tutor: Annie Kinchington

Booking is essential as places are limited – Please call 0116 2556614 to book a place.

Shakespeare and MusicWednesday 14 June 10.00 am – 12.00 pm

There is hardly a play by Shakespeare which does not have cues for music: songs, fanfares, religious music and so on. Moreover, his verse is shot through with references to and metaphors drawing from music and its effects. Shakespeare clearly loved music and was engaged by the immediate way it could communicate, create atmosphere and affect mood. We will be looking at Shakespeare’s use of music and how his work has prompted and inspired a myriad of music by later composers, in particular operas, songs and symphonies.                     

Tutor: John Florance

Going off the RailsWednesday 14 June 1.00 pm – 3.00 pm

The development of the railway system in the 19th century brought about a social and political revolution. Distance collapsed and people found themselves travelling at unprecedented speeds and so seeing the landscape in different ways. Quite early on in the development of the network poets, novelists and other artists tried to make sense of this revolution. And much later writers used the railways as a scene for crime fiction and composers were inspired by the sounds of steam travel. We will look at many writers including Dickens, Hardy, Edward Thomas Betjeman, Philip Larkin and others, and listen to some very jolly music!                   

Tutor:   John Florance


Twelve Hundred Years of Russian History

Thursday 15 June 10.30 am – 12.30 pm

To provide participants with an understanding into the forces that has contributed to the formation of the Russian state. It will examine the factors which changed a small principality based in the settlement of Kiev into a super-power dominating two continents.   It will cover the change from Kievan ‘Rus’ to the Grand Ducy of Moscow, the Rise of the Romanovs, and will show the importance of the country’s links with Western Europe.   It will also discuss the emergence of a governing structure which has made its continuing existence possible over many centuries, and the extent to which these factors might still operate.

Tutor:   Aubrey Newman


Thursday 15 June 3.00 pm – 5.00 pm

A group singing taster session where everything will be taught by ear, so there’s no need to read sheet music. The emphasis is on singing for pleasure and it’s fine if you’ve never sung in a group before. All the songs taught will be accessible, with rounds and 2-part or 3-part harmony. Repertoire will come from around the world, including folk song and African traditional song, plus some popular tunes. The session will start with some physical, breath and vocal warm ups to prepare the body and mind for singing. 

Tutor: Carl Hodson

Silk PaintingFriday 16 June 10.00 am – 12.00 pm

An introduction to silk painting. You do not need any art experience to try this and will leave with a unique, colourful piece of painted silk to frame and hang as art or make into a small item.

Tutor: Roz Beeson

Booking is essential as places are limited – Please call 0116 2556614 to book a place.

No Strings attached!

Friday 16 June 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

There’s no strings attached to this taster! Come and see how a puppet could be used to speak for your group. Church, community, protest or publicity, you can use puppets to get your message across.

Tutor:   Kevin Brown


Planet and Stars

Saturday 17 June 10.30 am – 12.30 pm

There are many interesting objects to view in the Summer Night Sky despite the fairly short hours of darkness.   This year the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be on display.   We will discuss the latest findings from spaceprobes about these planets and find out about the stars visible on warm Summer evenings. Come and join us!

Tutor: Ann Bonell

George Orwell

Saturday 17 June 2.00 pm – 4.00 pm

“From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink – greetings!” Come and discuss how much our age shares in common with the age of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, and the impact of the social, political and technological practices of that world.

Tutor:   Emma Hurley

All the tasters are free drop in sessions, apart from where booking is specified. Please ensure you arrive on time so as to enable the sessions to start promptly.  If you would like to let us know you are attending or if you require any further information, please call us on 0116 2556614 or email us at

The WEA would like to take this opportunity to thank The Newarke Houses Museum for their continued support.


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