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 £495


Non Member: From £555



We shall enjoy two gentle rambles, one of which will be having spectacular views on the Ridgeway ending at the market town of Wantage. The other starting at Wittenham, having stunning panoramic views from the Wittenham Clumps, and rambling down to Days Lock on the River Thames, before exploring Dorchester and the Abbey.

Fun line and country dancing, and a basic massage in pairs will be enjoyed in the evening sessions.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



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 £345


Non Member: From £385



Explore the world of G.F and Mary Watts through a visit to the artists’ village where he made his studio and home in Victorian England. Visit the gallery where his permanent collection is displayed in the Arts & Crafts studio designed by celebrated Victorian architect Sir Ernest George. Also explore the Grade 1 listed Arts & Crafts masterpiece, the Watts chapel rich in symbolism, the creation of Mary Watts.

WI Member: From £105


Non Member: From £125



This course is for bridge novices, or people who have had a go, but not really found their feet. We will play bridge hands almost from the first moment, because we will dispense with the bidding phase of the game. You will discuss and reflect on how the game works and then have a go in a no fear environment. Suitable for complete beginners or those who have played a little social bridge. There is no need to book with a playing partner: there will be plenty of like-minded people and helpers to play with.

WI Member: From £105


Non Member: From £125



Bridge is a stimulating and enjoyable game, and it can be played at all levels. Increasing your knowledge and understanding can result in better results, and more fun! The course will establish or rediscover what you already know, and build on theoretical discussions and reflection with pre-prepared hands. You will begin playing hands in the first session, putting into practice what you have learnt, and there will be opportunities to compare the effectiveness of specific techniques.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Sullivan and Gilbert gave us a whole new operatic heritage. Enjoy their ever popular operas, through discussion, audio recordings and DVDs. Discover the life and background of these extraordinary men.

WI Member: From £530


Non Member: From £590



A course looking at the history, exotic objects and obsession with the East. Visits to Claydon House, the Ashmolean Museum and Sezincote House will be included.

WI Member: From £375


Non Member: From £415



Come away for a break before Christmas!  Treat yourself to a relaxing few days with the girls, learn something new and even pick up some inspiration for starting a new hobby next year.  Start your weekend with a cocktail, choose 3 workshops from our exciting offer, enjoy our Saturday night entertainment and go home on Sunday refreshed for the Christmas preparations.

Select three workshops from the following:

Flowers with Christine Pearce

A Christmas Ring in Ribbon Embroidery with Marilyn Pipe

Bronze Bracelets with Abi Burt

Truffle Topiary Tree with Louise Talbot 

Singing: Christmas with Jo Sercombe

Booking Your Workshops:
Please select your preferred 3 workshops from the choices above, then ring Guest Services on 01865 391 991 to book. Workshops will be allocated on a first come first served basis. All final information, including workshop timings, will be sent out to you two months before the start of the course. 

WI Member: From £180


Non Member: From £200



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 £105


Non Member: From £125



You will look at the basics of setting up your iPad tablet, joining networks, understanding how to use it and get the best from it. You will also investigate apps, photos, music and books. Lots of work, but it will be fun too!

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Thinking of getting an Apple iPad or perhaps you recently got one? This is the course for you! It's a simple beginner's course that will allow you get going with settings, email, photos and apps. This course is not suitable for android tablet users.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Do you have an iPad or thinking of getting one? Have you been on a beginner's course? This is for all those who want to go beyond the basics. This course is not for android tablet users.

WI Member: From £445


Non Member: From £505



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 £105


Non Member: From £125



Ever wanted to write a novel? This course provides an introduction to the art of novel-writing and the essential skills an author uses to craft an engaging and intriguing novel. It will take participants from first inspiration through the basic techniques of novel writing, with practical exercises along the way, and most will leave with a debut novel underway. The course is supported by practical exercises, 1:1 tutor feedback and resource sheets.

WI Member: From £445


Non Member: From £505



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 £445


Non Member: From £505



This course covers how to tackle that terrifying problem of editing your novel, and what to look for during the process. It introduces Debrah’s own specific system that can be used to edit, enabling authors to critically review and organise the mass of work that potentially needs to be done to polish a manuscript ready for publication. It also covers how and where to submit your manuscript for traditional publication. The course is supported by practical exercises, 1:1 tutor feedback and resource sheets.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



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 £105


Non Member: From £125



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 £105


WI Non Member: From £125



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 £445


Non Member: From £505



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 £105


Non Member: From £125



Voices – two of the most difficult aspects of a novel to crack – yours and your characters’! In this one-day workshop you will learn how write credible dialogue that drives your story forward and also examine what makes up your own unique way of storytelling – your author’s ‘voice’. The workshop will include practical ways to make your dialogue – and your characters – ‘real’, and how to use 1st, 3rd and the Omniscient POV (Point of View) for dramatic effect to tell your story. 

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Join the Denman jury and 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 £345


Non Member: From £385



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 £180


Non Member: From £200



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.

WI Member: From £180


Non Member: From £200



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 you 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 £300


Non Member: From £340



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 £300


Non Member: From £340



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 £300


Non Member: From £340



Have a go at a variety of dance styles including ballroom, Latin, Bollywood and burlesque. And learn dance routines to some popular, party classics!

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



The revival of a much loved and well known course features completely new songs and fresh choreography. Enjoy Exhilarating dance and performance with like-Minded company

 

WI Member: From £105


Non Member: From £125



Uplifting dance and music from around the world and across the ages. Friendly relaxed group. For both beginners and experienced dancers. Some basic steps to learn and each dance expertly taught.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Uplifting dance and music from around the world and across the ages. Friendly relaxed group. For both beginners and experienced dancers. Some basic steps to learn and each dance expertly taught.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



The World of Flamenco course is for everyone, not just for dancers. Flamenco is exciting, dramatic, passionate and powerful. Come and learn about the dance, costumes, culture and history of Flamenco. You will be taught basic Flamenco dance technique plus a simple, level appropriate dance. This course includes an Illustrated lecture with film clips, a session on Flamenco costumes (including dressing in full Flamenco costume) and session on Flamenco accessories (castanets, fans, shawls) so you won’t be on your feet all the time. There will be a Spanish themed dinner on the second evening and a Flamenco dance performance by the tutor and her Flamenco guitarist. Ole!

WI Member: From £540


Non Member: From £600



Come to Denman and enjoy our brand new relaxed Creative Writing Summer School, You’ll have all the time, space and support you need to kick start your writing project or continue something you’ve already begun. With a new confidence in your ability to write creatively we’ll explore the different genres of creative writing (short story, novel, memoir, life story, poetry, features, sketch and play writing etc.) and consider which suits you best. You’ll enjoy inspirational tutor led sessions with tricks and tips to help you build believable characters, breathe life into them with great dialogue, and create convincing plots. You’ll have some quiet writing time; opportunities to give and receive constructive feedback when sharing and discussing your work with other writers, and be supported in confidential ‘one to one’ sessions with your tutor. The creative writing summer school is suitable for beginners and more experienced writers.

WI Member: From £675


Non Member: From £735



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 £300


Non Member: From £340



Take photographs to be proud of. Gain confidence in the use of your camera. No technical jargon, just hints and tips and ideas for those special shots. Different subjects, different angles, perfect pictures.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Improve your skills taking digital photographs and using computers to edit and manage your shots. We’ll use the grounds to improve your technique then either bring your own laptops or use the Denman computers to use a variety of software applications to make the most of your pictures. We will attempt to create practical solutions and not to get too technical, it’s aimed at all users with whatever digital camera you use. Feel free to contact me for further information.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Improve your skills taking digital photographs and using computers to edit and manage your shots. We’ll use the grounds to improve your technique then either bring your own laptops or use the Denman computers to Photoshop Elements predominantly to make the most of your pictures. we will look at alternatives so don’t buy before the course. The course is aimed at all users with whatever digital camera you use and Windows or Mac computers are catered for (Denman have PC’s) Feel free to contact me for further information.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



This is the time of year when we begin to think of our Christmas card list. So why not impress your family and friends by photographing and printing your own? Bring your camera and take a series of Christmas themed photographs, which you will download on to a computer. From there, you will do some simple manipulation techniques before printing them as Christmas cards.

WI Member: From £345


Non Member: From £385



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 £105


Non Member: From £125



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 £105


Non Member: From £125



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 £300


Non Member: From £340



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 £300


Non Member: From £340



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.

 

 

 

WI Member: From £105


Non Member: From £125



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


Non Member: From £340



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


Non Member: From £340



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.

WI Member: From £105


Non Member: From £125



This day school 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.

WI Member: From £465


Non Member: From £505



The National Archives is full of documents and records that will help you research your family history. Some of them can be seen online, but most of them require a visit to Kew. Although it is free to go in, it can be daunting to go on your own. Where do you start? What do you look at? What can you expect when you get there? This course gives you the chance to make that first exploratory visit, supported by your tutor and with a group of like-minded students and friends.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



This course is a chance to meet up with other students researching their family trees, share information and success stories, and you will have plenty of time to do more research with support from your tutor. This course is suitable for anyone who has previously attended one of Jessica's courses at Denman.

WI Member: From £495


Non Member: From £555



Twenty years of vastly contrasting costume due to the influences of WW2 – from ‘make-do-and-mend’ to the explosion of fabric of the ‘New Look’, you could not get a more radical change in the look of costume in such a short space of time!

WI Member: From £495


Non Member: From £555



Look at how we lost our waists and raised our hems! No more waists, short cropped hair, short skirts and hardly any underwear let alone corsetry! What a fast moving and radical time the 20s to 30s was in respect of costume change. You will visit museums to see costumes of the period and also attend a specialised study group where we can look at items not usually on display. As well as this, you will be able to touch, feel and see examples of authentic dress, beaded bags, accessories and underwear of the time.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



Born in London to affluent American parents, Taylor first caught the eye of Hollywood with her flashing violet eyes and pretty looks as a child. Propelled to stardom in National Velvet in 1944 she made the transition from child to adult actor with apparent ease. Come with Claire on a journey through her men, films, activism and her famed relationship with Richard Burton. With a screening of one of Taylor’s films on the second night with wine and popcorn you’re in for a sumptuous Hollywood treat!

WI member: From £455


Non Member: From £505



This is your opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities, all of which are FUN and suitable for all ages and abilities.
Exercising and dancing to music will help to improve circulation, keep the body supple, tighten slack muscles and improve posture as well as balance and coordination. Exercising to music will also help you to relax and relieve everyday stress. Everyone will exercise at their own level, and alternative/modified movements will be given if necessary in order that you can exercise safely and effectively.
Talks/discussions/workshops may include nutrition, posture, osteoporosis, stress management. If there is another topic you would like covered, please let Gill know, and she'll come prepared!
Enjoy the relaxation, as well as a basic massage carried out in pairs.

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340



This is your opportunity to enjoy a variety of activities, all of which are FUN and suitable for all ages and abilities. Exercising and dancing to music will help to improve circulation, keep the body supple, tighten slack muscles and improve posture as well as balance and coordination. Exercising to music will also help you to relax and relieve everyday stress. Everyone will exercise at their own level, and alternative/modified movements will be given if necessary in order that you can exercise safely and effectively. Talks/discussions/workshops may include nutrition, posture, osteoporosis, stress management. If there is another topic you would like covered, please let Gill know, and she'll come prepared! Enjoy the relaxation, as well as a basic massage carried out in pairs.

Non Member: From £340


WI Member: From £300



The full description for this course is not yet available. It will be added shortly. In the meantime, if you require further information, please contact Denman on 01865 391991.

WI Member: From £325


Non Member: From £365



The full description for this course is not yet available.  It will be added shortly.  In the meantime, if you require further information, please contact Denman on 01865 391991.

WI Member: From £180


Non Member: From £200



Successful pruning of ornamental shrubs is guaranteed to bring the best results from your plants, emphasising their flowering and foliage qualities and keeping them healthy. We will consider which tools are most helpful, the optimum time of year and the skills needed. With walks in Denman’s glorious gardens for practical plant identification and inspiration, you will go away with the knowledge to prune with confidence.(Fruit pruning not included in this course)

WI Member: From £300


Non Member: From £340