SUES Courses

All the events listed are courses taking place over a number of sessions, held at All Saints Church Hall, Park Road, Southport. The courses will be held on Mondays at 10:30am and last for two hours.


January – March (8 Sessions – fee £40)

Art and Architecture of the American West | Roger Mitchell

January 9, 16, 23, 30 | February 6, 13, 27 | March 6

This eight session course comes into the ‘and now for something completely different’ category, but like my Country House Courses, its central theme is how people and buildings interact. The landscapes are remarkable, the history is extraordinary and the buildings are fascinating.

We range from Anasazi cliff dwellings through Spanish churches and Victorian towns to Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, mid-20th century architecture in Palm Springs and 21st century excess at Las Vegas.

It is a truly epic story and as well as the architecture, it produced some great art, especially landscape paintings by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, one of whose pictures is shown above.

May – June (6 Sessions – fee £30)

Uncovering the Mystery in Chemistry | Alan Potter

May 8, 15, 22, 25th (Thursday) | June 5th, 8th (Thursday)

Please note that this course has 4 of the usual Monday morning meetings (May 8th, 15th, 22nd and June 5th) but also 2 Thursday morning meetings (May 25th and June 8th). This is necessary to fit in with the availability of the speaker and the room and gives us a chance to experiment with a slightly different course structure.

It is fascinating why chemistry, an aspect so fundamental to everything in our lives, and indeed life itself, is a subject we often know so little about since leaving school. In this course, simple examples and everyday language will be used to explain the nature of chemistry from the emergence of the first particles and substances to the nuclear and micro-world we live in today.

September – November (10 Sessions – fee £50)

Medieval Bookends | Peter Firth

September 25 | October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 | November 6, 13, 20, 27

We often use the term ‘Middle Ages’ without defining what it really means, both in this country and on the continent. By focusing on the two ‘ends’ of the medieval period, the start in the 5th century and the finish in the 15th, Peter will analyse what makes the Middle Ages special, how this period came into existence and how it gave way to modern times.


January – March (8 Sessions – fee £40)

The Country House in the 20th Century | Roger Mitchell

January 10, 17, 24, 31 | February 7, 14, 28 | March 7

Previous courses have taken the English Country House from its late Mediaeval origins to its Victorian climax. Its 20th Century story is very different but equally fascinating. The emphasis shifts from building new houses to finding ways to adapt existing ones to a very different and very dangerous world. Many houses (and some owners) were lost en route but most survived and a few people were brave enough and rich enough to create new houses and even use new styles and new materials.

This eight session course will introduce remarkable houses like Castle Drogo, Eltham Palace and Eaton Hall and equally remarkable people like Vita Sackville-West, James Lees-Milne and Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire. Although this course is the culmination of a sequence, it is equally open to those who have not attended earlier sessions.

April – June (7 Sessions – fee £35)

The Secret Life of the Human Brain | Dr Alan Potter

April 25 | May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 | June 6

Over the centuries, and despite being essential for life, the workings of the brain have often remained a mystery. Scientific study and dissection provided some evidence but it is only now through modern techniques, including therapy and surgery, and instruments such as MRI scanners, that we more fully understand the brain and can truly wonder at what it achieves.

Using up-to-date research, illustrations and images, this course uncovers the origin of the brain, describes the functions of each part and demonstrates how they connect with each other and the whole body to provide a sophisticated driving force. In this way, common myths about the brain will be debunked and advice shared on how, as we get older, we can keep it healthy, happy and active.

September – October (9 Sessions – fee £45)

Era of the Crusades | Peter Firth

September 26 | Oct 3, 10, 17, 31 | November 7, 14, 21, 28

When we think of the word Crusades, it might immediately evoke images of battles in the Middle Ages between Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land. We might also recall the feats and valour of Richard the Lionheart, as well as the appearance of military orders, such as the Templars and Hospitallers, protecting and looking after Christian pilgrims.  Most histories of the Crusades focus on the period from the call to defend the Christians in Jerusalem by Pope Urban II in 1095 to the fall of Acre in 1291.

However, the term, crusading, embraces far more than these two centuries of religious warfare. It includes a rich history of events in western Europe, Byzantium and around the Baltic Sea. It can even be argued that crusading rhetoric was still being applied to events as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century.  Whilst focusing on events in the Holy Land, this nine-week course will provide a much wider context and understanding of crusading during the second millennium.


January – March (6 Sessions)

English Travellers | Roger Mitchell

September – November (10 sessions – fee £50)

England Under the Norman Kings and Queens | Peter Firth

September 27 | October 4, 11, 18, 25 | November 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

The Norman Conquest and its aftermath, covering barely a century and a quarter, is regularly the subject of much interest in studying the history of the British Isles. This course explores the changing relationships between successive Norman kings of England, their barons and the English Church up to the beginning of the Angevin dynasty. Particular attention is given to the reigns of William the Conqueror and the two sons who succeeded him, the cause and consequences of the civil war between 1139 and 1153, as well as the restoration of royal authority during the early reign of Henry II. As part of a survey of the English Church, consideration is given to the extension of papal authority and the forces which sought to resist it, culminating in the quarrel between Henry II and Thomas Becket. It will also focus on Queenship and roles played by the various women whose contribution throughout the Norman dynasty cannot be understated.


January – March (7 Sessions)

The Victorian Country House | Roger Mitchell

November – December (2 Sessions)

The Travels of Samuel Pepys and Sylvia Fiennes | Roger Mitchell


September – November (7 Sessions)

The Reformation in Europe | Peter Firth