Wells Cathedral

"I never weary of great churches. It's my favorite kind of mountain scenery." - Robert Louis Stevenson

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Mondays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: October to December
  • Tutor: Sarah James and Michael Paraskos
  • Fees from £125 to £210
  • Imperial College attendance certificate (T&Cs apply)
  • Book from 5 November 2021
Booking link

Dr Sarah James (University of Kent) and Dr Michael Paraskos (Imperial College London) present a new ten-week online course looking at the history of some of the most magnificent cathedrals in England and the, often surprising, stories of saints associated with them.

Each week we will look at a different cathedral in England and discover the history of its foundation, architecture and art treasures. But we will expand on this history of the material culture of the building by looking at the key saint associated with the building, discovering the story of the saint, how he or she has been represented and asking ourselves why the saint was connected to the cathedral we are looking at.

The course is open to everyone and offers a fascinating and unusual way of approaching art, architecture and literary history, whilst also bringing to life these astonishing monuments that can be found across England.

Course Information

Course Programme

Programme - subject to possible change

  • Week 1: Durham Cathedral
  • Week 2: Rochester Cathedral
  • Week 3: Canterbury Cathedral
  • Week 4: Norwich Cathedral
  • Week 5: Salisbury Cathedral
  • Week 6: Wells Cathedral
  • Week 7: Gloucester Cathedral
  • Week 8: Westminster Abbey
  • Week 9: Ely Cathedral
  • Week 10: St Paul's Cathedral

Additional Reading

There is no compulsory reading for this course.

If you are interested in reading more about the cathedrals of England you might enjoy:

  • Alec Clifton-Taylor, The Cathedrals of England (various editions available)

Your Tutors

Photograph of Dr Sarah JamesDr Sarah James’s work is focused on medieval hagiography from c.1100-1500. Far from being timeless and aloof, saints in this period are continually being reimagined by writers in ways that perform important social, religious and political work of immediate contemporary relevance. 

To understand that work Sarah explores a range of evidence, including the written lives, documentary records, and representations of the saints in material culture. Her geographical focus is wide-ranging, including both the Latin west and more recently Byzantium; the island of Cyprus in this period is of particular significance to her work at present and is likely to remain so.

Photograph of Dr Michael Paraskos

Dr Michael Paraskos is a very experienced adult education tutor, having taught for over twenty-five years. He holds a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and also teaches art history to undergraduate students at the City and Guilds of London Art School.

He is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and has published very widely on art of this period, as well as reviewing exhibitions and novels for BBC Radio 4’s Front Row and The Spectator magazine. He is the Lead Convenor for Othello's Island: The Annual Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Studies held in Cyprus.

Course Delivery Method

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are UK time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.


This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.

Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10-minute break in the middle. For one-hour courses there is no break.

Any Questions?

If you have enjoyed this course, why not look at other arts and humanities evening class courses at Imperial College. This includes courses on the history of western art from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century, Understanding Modern and Design, the history of film and cinema and Greek and Roman mythology in art. We also run practical courses in art and photography and creative writing classes, and a growing programme of science based evening classes.