Lifestyle Courses


Lifestyle courses at Denman are developed to cater for the mind, body and soul. The range includes something for every interest – historical visits, photography, T’ai Chi, flower arranging, computer skills, fashion and a whole array of music and singing courses. The courses are designed for the complete beginner to the more accomplished practitioner – everyone is welcome to stretch their mind and fill their senses at Denman.

Online booking is now LIVE! Our phone lines are incredibly busy so please bear with us! Skip the queues and book online below!

WI Member: From £520.00


Non Member: From £575.00



Enjoy two gentle rambles: one of which is all day exploring the Thames Path between Clifton Hampden and Abingdon, the other, an afternoon ramble on the Ridgeway enjoying the spectacular views in the White Horse area.

Gentle exercise, line and country dancing are also included, all of which are FUN!

On Wednesday the minibus will take us to Clifton Hampden for the start of our all day ramble. We shall enjoy walking along the Thames Path to Sutton Courtenay before rambling to Abingdon and exploring the area.

On Thursday afternoon we will be taken up to the Ridgeway where we shall have spectacular views as we ramble in the vicinity of the White Horse.

Coffee, tea and picnic will be provided for the all day ramble; and  tea, coffee will be provided for the afternoon ramble.

Gentle exercising and dancing to music, all of which are FUN, will be at your own level and alternative/modified movements will be given if necessary in order that you can exercise safely and effectively.

Notes for Students

Please bring:

  Suitable footwear for walking – sturdy, comfortable boots or strong lace up shoes

  Appropriate clothes for walking – be prepared for all weathers!

  Walking sticks if required

 Binoculars if required

 Water bottle if required

  Loose clothing for exercise eg T shirt, leggings, tracksuit

 Trainers or soft shoes for exercise

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Learn about posture improvement, stress alleviation and how to relieve the tensions and discomforts held in the body. This is a practical course for the whole of you – mind and body. You will get hands-on guidance from the tutor.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Visitors started going to the battlefields of the First World War almost as soon as the conflict ended, to pay their respects and to learn more about the war itself.  Many people continue to do the same today – and this course is ideal either for those planning to make such a trip, or for those who would like to learn more without having to cross the Channel!  From the comfort of Denman, you will be introduced to many of the key locations and stories on what became the Western Front – 400 or more miles of trenches running through France and Belgium.

The opening evening will provide an introduction to the conflict itself – what was the context for the outbreak of war; how, when and why did it start; and who were the key figures involved?

On the second day, we will look at the war through the lens of a number of key battles ranging across the 1914-1918 period.  The focus will be not on detailed military history, but rather on charting the ebb and flow of the war, and its impact on the men and women involved.  We will draw on personal stories from those who were there –the commanders, the nurses and doctors, the airmen, the tunnellers, the ordinary soldiers in the front-line trenches, and also those men and women back at home.  Simon will also use his own library of photographs to show how these battlefields look today, and how the legacy of the war is still written in the landscape.

On the final morning, we will look at how the war ended, and what its legacy was; and also touch on the historical debate about the extent to which this conflict was the prelude to the even more destructive one which broke out in 1939.

This course will provide powerful insights not just into the landscapes of war and the history of the conflict, but into the stories of the men and women whose lives were affected by these events. 

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



This course will focus on the darker imaginative aspects of Dickens’ creative genius and of his terrifying revelation of unacceptable elements in London society. But we’ll also explore his own dark side –his suppression of early family secrets and the double standards revealed in his long-term concealed relationship with Nelly Ternan and his appalling treatment of his wife and his very strict attitude to his children.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Explore the popular genre of detective fiction from its inception with Edgar Allan Poe to the fantastically popular Sherlock Holmes stories. Thence to the ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction of 1930s & 1940s with celebrated women writers Sayers, Christie & Marsh and ending with the modern ‘No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’.

WI Member: From £330.00


Non Member: From £370.00



Whether you remember them or have only heard of them, these years formed one of the most influential and controversial decades of the 20th century. Following a political and economic overview of the period, aspects covered include consumerism, youth culture and the women’s movement together with the debates engendered by them. Also considered are popular culture and the Arts, the rise of environmentalism and the emergence of new beliefs and alternative lifestyles. Memorabilia welcome. 

WI Member: From £330.00


Non Member: From £370.00



Join our Lepidopterology expert David, for a fascinating course where you will learn about the colourful world of butterflies and moths, their ecology and the important role they play in the ecosystem. This course will include a colour slide presentation to illustrate the diverse range of species in the UK. There will be daytime butterfly walks around the Denman grounds to study the local species and habitats. At nighttime electric observation lights will also be operated to attract a wide variety of moths to study the following morning. Hints will also be provided on how to attract these beautiful creatures to your own garden. 

WI Member: From £230.00


Non Member: From £260.00



Your individual look is influenced by colour. The choices you make can be swayed by the manufacturers, fashion trends, your moods, personal favourites or even the persuasion of others. This course looks at the shades that compliment your colouring, have a nod to the trends, can fit in with your moods and the impression you wish to give. You will cover the traditional meaning of colours; colour analysis and shades for the capsule wardrobe. Colour for jewellery, hair, glasses and accessories are also discussed to ensure that your wardrobe best reflects you.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



As we hunker down for shorter days and long dark winter nights we’re more likely to feel down as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) saps our energy and make us feel sluggish.  But research tells us that writing expressively is therapeutic, relaxing and good for us, the perfect antidote to Winter Solstice Blues. Together we’ll explore routes to creative writing with music, location, colours, language, essential oils and the seasons.  Whether you’ve never written anything but a shopping list before, or whether you’ve been a secret scribbler for years, escape to Denman, treat yourself to some time out and experience the gentle joys of creative expressive writing.  Begin a journal, a story or a memoir, become a diarist or explore your poetic self. Reconnect with your creativity and enjoy writing with a small supportive group of like-minded people; nurture your writerly talents and see how they blossom.  This course is relaxed and friendly, men and women are equally welcome and it’s suitable for all ages and abilities, including those with no experience of writing.

WI Member: From £490.00


Non Member: From £540.00



This course looks at what to do to promote and sell your book when it is published or about to be published. It is equally applicable to self-published and traditionally published authors, as even if you have obtained a traditional publishing deal they rarely include promotion and marketing budgets or support. By the end of the course, you will have taken the first steps towards setting up your author platform and becoming visible to the world of readers. You will undertake practical exercises and receive mentoring feedback directly from the tutor throughout the course. Your author career starts here…

WI Member: From £490.00


Non Member: From £540.00



Started writing your novel and got stuck? Started writing your novel and can’t seem to find the time to continue it? Started writing your novel and need help editing, reviewing or rewriting elements in it? Then this is the retreat course for you, with a mix of formal guidance, practical exercises, 1:1 sessions and time to simply write… Get that stuck writing project moving whilst also gathering hints and tips on technique, style and editing considerations as well as 1:1 mentoring from an award-winning author.

WI Member: From £125.00


Non Member: From £145.00



Ever wanted to write your autobiography? But where do you start, and how do you turn fact into compelling (non)fiction? Autobiographies and biographies are still stories, and whether you are writing your life story to share with your family or with a wider audience, this one-day workshop will help you make it a page-turner. You can use personal memories, photographs, genealogy or even a will as the source of your facts, but learn how to be a master of breathing life into bare bones and applying the skills of a polished writer to transform facts into fantastic (non)fiction. 

WI Member: From £150.00


WI Non Member: From £170.00



What do you do with your novel once the first draft is complete? Here’s the secret… This course covers how to edit your novel, and what to look for in the editing process. It introduces Debrah’s own special editing system, enabling authors to critically review and organise the mass of work that potentially needs to be done to polish a manuscript ready for publication. The course is supported by practical exercises, 1:1 tutor feedback and information and resource sheets.  

WI Member: From £330.00


Non Member: From £370.00



Research tells us that writing expressively is therapeutic, relaxing and good for you. It enhances well being and boosts self confidence. So, whether you have never written anything but shopping lists or you have been a secret scribbler for years, escape to Denman and take time out to experience the gentle joys of creative expressive writing and find your own unique inner creative voice. Nurture your writerly talents and see how they will blossom! This course is relaxed and friendly, and suitable for all ages and abilities, including those with no experience of writing.

WI Member: From £230.00


Non Member: From £260.00



You’ve made a will, you’ve decided on a final resting place, you’ve perhaps even pre-payed your funeral - but what about your Eulogy?  Are you going to leave your family and friends trying to remember things about you to tell a minister or celebrant, or struggling to decide what to say in their own whistle-stop summary of your life?  There’s a better way.  You’re the one who’s been there, done that and got the tee-shirt.  You know more than anyone else about your life, your loves, your achievements, your philosophy and your hopes for those you leave behind. You can save them from having to do a difficult job at a difficult time by joining us for this brand new course, and writing your own Eulogy at beautiful Denman with a small group of ‘last worders’.  It certainly doesn’t have to be morbid, it can be quite the opposite - your last words can comfort, inspire, inform and entertain.   

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Writing your life story is a wonderful reflective and enjoyable occupation. This course is designed to give you the help and inspiration you need to plan, write and organise your own unique life story, creating an enduring record of your life and times.

WI Member: From £490.00


Non Member: From £540.00



Writing your life story with a supportive group of like minded people is a wonderful reflective and enjoyable occupation. With help from an experienced specialist life story writing tutor you will plan, write and organise your story in the way that is best for you. You will revisit and recapture tales from the older generation of your family, along with memories of your childhood, school days, work and family life. Writing your life story adds a new personal dimension to your family history project, it is a wonderful way of passing on your family’s unique heritage and connecting with children and grandchildren. No experience of writing is needed, and all the folders and stationery you will need are included. For further information please see www.lifestorywriting.co.uk

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Details will be added shortly.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



The Women's Institute has a proud heritage of writing and performing sketches, short plays and monologues to entertain ourselves and each other.  Sketch writing (and acting) is every bit as much fun now as it always was.  This course is designed to continue that tradition, with  a modern twist.  We know our Institutes are full of talented women, ready to rock up at Group Meetings keen to make 'em laugh, or tug at their heartstrings, or  inspire 'em, with topical short dramas about contemporary issues and things we care about - including our resolutions and campaigns.   We'll be aiming for some 'work in progress', script in hand performances towards the end of the course, so please come along prepared enjoy practical sessions.  Sketches and short plays are increasingly popular in pub theatres, and at festivals and community events, and we'll check out  opportunities for writers to submit their short scripts to competitions etc. 

WI Member: From £490.00


Non Member: From £540.00



Dig out that unfinished writing project languishing in a drawer or, if you're a beginner, come along to get inspired and start writing at Denman this winter. Overcome writer’s block and enjoy working in a supportive, tutor-led classroom group and in programmed one-to-one sessions on your short stories, memoirs, life stories, sketches, plays, articles or novels.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



You the Jury! returns with more cases which are completely new to Denman.

Join the Denman jury for Denman Casebook 3. After  listening to the evidence, then discussing it with your fellow jurors, you will able to pronounce your verdict on three separate, real life murder cases, which occurred in England between 1900-1975. The cases have all been personally researched by the tutor and chosen for the insights they can give us on our judicial system and social history. (Although these are all real cases, no distressing crime scene photographs will be used.) Come equipped with a pen, a notebook and an open mind...

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



You the Jury! returns to Denman with fresh cases for your consideration.

Join the Denman jury for Denman Casebook 4. After  listening to the evidence, then discussing it with your fellow jurors, you will able to pronounce your verdict on three separate, real life murder cases, which occurred in England between 1900-1975. The cases have all been personally researched by the tutor and chosen for the insights they can give us on our judicial system and social history. (Although these are all real cases, no distressing crime scene photographs will be used.) Come equipped with a pen, a notebook and an open mind...

WI Member: From £330.00


Non Member: From £370.00



You the Jury! returns to Denman with fresh cases for your consideration.

Join the Denman jury for Denman Casebook 2. After  listening to the evidence, then discussing it with your fellow jurors, you will able to pronounce your verdict on three separate, real life murder cases, which occurred in England between 1900-1975. The cases have all been personally researched by the tutor and chosen for the insights they can give us on our judicial system and social history. (Although these are all real cases, no distressing crime scene photographs will be used.) Come equipped with a pen, a notebook and an open mind...

WI Member: From £445.00


Non Member: From £485.00



Since the 1860s, London has led the world in public transport and 2018 will see the completion of the engineering marvel known as Crossrail. This course traces London’s public transport through the ages and into the 21st century. The course will include a day exploring the London Underground’s past and present. Please note: This out and about course involving a reasonable amount of walking, therefore good mobility and stamina are required.

WI Member: From £230.00


Non Member: From £260.00



Learn how to solve cryptic crosswords on a course that is designed for beginners and delivered in a relaxed and friendly manner. The course starts with the simplest ideas and easiest types of clue, and gradually builds to the more advanced aspects of solving cryptic puzzles. How cryptic clues work is clearly explained, and supported by practical activities in which we work together on developing solving skills. This course is engaging and interactive, and will teach you a new skill that is both enjoyable and stimulating. 

Students need to bring something to write with and some rough paper, and £15 for the course book Learn How to Solve Cryptic Crosswords, which is an integral part of the course.

WI Member: From £230.00


Non Member: From £260.00



This practical course is for anyone who understands the principles of how cryptic clues work and how to solve them, and is now seeking to improve their solving expertise. During the course we will work on progressively more challenging puzzles. Before each practical session, there will be a short review of theoretical aspects of clue construction to extend knowledge and solving techniques. At the end of the course you will be familiar with the tricks of the trade that regularly feature in the national broadsheet puzzles.

 

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Cryptic crossword solving may seem like a black art – especially if you have been baffled by the concept. This course will introduce you from zero level, to extracting intellectual pleasure from the beast! There is a solvable connection between a cryptic clue and the answer (there really is!) The rules governing the compilation of cryptic crossword clues and the methods that one can employ to find the solution to a clue will be demonstrated and discussed at length. All you need is an enquiring mind and a sense of humour!

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Dance and sing the marvellous melodies from Evita, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Cats. This is a course for those who enjoy performing and are looking for ideas for concerts or entertainment, as well as those who take pleasure in music.

WI Member : From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



It’s time to put on your dancing shoes and dance around the world, learn the basic steps and techniques from some of the worlds most fun and popular dances, you could be heading to Spain, Cuba, India, Greece, Austria, Poland and many more destinations without leaving Denman!

There is no need for a partner, two left feet most welcome and a sense of humour a must, the emphasis is on having fun!

Notes for students 

Please wear comfortable clothing, trainers or flat smooth soled shoes to ease movement around the floor and bring a bottle of water.

WI Member: From £675.00


Non Member: From £735.00



Explore Oxfordshire at the Denman Summer School. On day one, visit Blenheim Palace, which commemorates the life and achievements of John Churchill and his descendants. On day two, visit Kelmscott, the Oxfordshire home of one of the most famous Arts and Crafts designers William Morris. In the afternoon you will visit Buscot Park, a National Trust property nearby with an extensive art collection and inspirational gardens.  On day three, visit the heart of Oxford University – the Sheldonian Theatre, Schools Quad and Radcliffe Square. Stroll through the colourful Covered Market before lunch and a tour of Jesus College. In the afternoon, following a visit to New College and gardens, take a Thames River Cruise to Iffley Lock before returning to Denman for afternoon tea. On the final day, the course culminates with a morning visit to the Ashmolean Museum.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Improve your skills taking digital photographs and using computers to edit and manage your shots. We’ll use the Denman grounds to take photographs and improve your technique then either bring your own laptops or use the Denman computers to use a variety of software applications to photoshop and edit elements to make the most of your pictures. This course is suitable for anyone with an interest in digital photography and no experience is necessary. Bring your own digital camera along and either bring your own laptop from home or use one of our Denman PCs.

WI Member: From £445.00


Non Member: From £485.00



An exploration of the culture and society of the dynamic Elizabethan period, featuring  the Cult of Gloriana in the Arts; Drake’s voyages; the Armada; the new professional Theatre; Dr John Dee’s magical science; Walsingham’s spy network & popular culture. With afternoon outings to Sudeley Castle (home of Katherine Parr & visited three times by Elizabeth –once to celebrate the defeat of the Armada) and the delightful Greys Court near Henley.

Court and its Cult of Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, and Elizabethan London were the focus for the flowering of the English Renaissance. The quest for national identity and survival went hand in hand with the cultural developments in native drama and poetry, in the quest for knowledge (including arcane) and the zest for exploration. Elizabethan London saw the flowering of a national theatre unequalled in the world of any epoch, with the possible exception of classical Athens. Plays such as Shakespeare’s RichardII and Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus deal with important Elizabethan themes such as kingship and the quest for knowledge and used metaphors of exploration based on the exciting Elizabethan voyages of discovery. Doctor Faustus’s mythical exploits are paralleled by real-life alchemists and magicians exploring the frontiers of knowledge, such as John Dee and Simon Forman. Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser combined soldier andstatesman careers with being the leading poets of their generation. Elizabethan music and dance was sophisticated and it was an important period for portrait painting.

There was also a powerful and lively Elizabethan sub-culture exhibited in Robert Greene’s Cony-Catching pamphlets and in traditional practices such as morris dancing and the May Games. And the period saw the development of professional theatres and actors and was rich in popular songs and ballads. National identity was enriched by the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the voyages of exploration of Sir Frances Drake and others. Profound economic and social changes followed the abolition of the monasteries and the seizure of their lands. Religious problems, inflation and poverty were major problems.

Visits to:

Sudeley Castle (Historic Houses)

Greys Court  (National Trust)

WI Member: From £125.00


Non Member: From £145.00



On this course you will learn why you might want to do a DNA test for family history, and also why you might not want to! What are the different kinds of test and who are they suitable for? What will they tell you? Who in your family should take the test? You may have other questions too. If you decide to do it, there are several different companies that you can use, and we will look at the advantages of each one. After you have made the decision, sent off your sample, and got your results, there are several things that you need to do to get the best from your results. We will help you to share your family tree so that matches to other people can be discovered. This will all be explained by the tutor, and you will be supported to take each step. Make those exciting connections that will help you expand your family tree and find long-lost cousins and ancestors!

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Drumming is great fun, very focusing, a powerful way of making music with other people. It is accessible way into music as well as being a music genre in its own right. Working in a drum circle, you will start with body beats and percussion, rhythm games and activities, and learn how to make our own rhythms, polyrhythms, and African drum rhythms. This is a course for beginners or those with a little experience.

WI Member: From £360.00


Non Member: From £400.00



Drumming is great fun, very focusing, a powerful way of making music with other people. This course is suitable for those who have done any of my Drum For Fun courses, or who have done a little drumming before.

Working in a drum circle, we will revisit body beats, the roots of rhythm & work at improving our drumming technique. We will pay more attention to making our own arrangements in groups, putting together cross rhythms, then learn & play with some traditional African rhythms from Ghana, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, maybe a Samba rhythm.... We will have a go at soloing over the group and at leading with a simple drum call. I provide a selection of hand percussion and drums including djembes, tubano, Cajons, darbuka, as well as percussion instruments from around the world. Bring along a favourite drum by all means. To protect hands and drum skins, rings do need to be able to come off please

WI Member: From £125.00


Non Member: From £145.00



A full introduction to researching your own family history, taking a professional approach to help you create a family tree to be proud of. This informal course will give you an understanding of various methods and sources, make you aware of some of the pitfalls involved in family history research, and equip you with tips and advice. Students must have a basic knowledge of using a computer and the internet so that they can work on their own.

WI Member: From £300.00


Non Member: From £340.00



This course is for you if you have started your family history and would now like to take it to the next level. Building on the work you have already done, the tutor will help you identify the next steps you can take, equipping you to get more from the Internet and from the available records in your areas of interest, whether your ancestors lived in the UK or further afield. A basic knowledge of using a computer and the internet would be helpful.