Glimpses of real Downton Abbey

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A glimpse into the life and culture of the classic English country house is to be revealed by a new online course created by Sheffield University.

Fans of Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice will be able to delve into 450 years of literature inspired and set in some of the country’s most magnificent buildings such as Chatsworth and Haddon Hall.

The free eight-week course is ideal for 18th century literature lovers and costume drama enthusiasts who would like to discover the secrets behind exquisite country houses which are steeped in history, romance and sometimes scandal.

Learners will explore the 17th-century wall paintings of Bolsover Castle and visit Haddon Hall, frozen in the time of William Shakespeare and an inspiration for the gothic novelist Anne Radcliffe 200 years later.

Literature will range from Thomas Moore’s Utopia to Oscar Wilde’s Canterville Ghost, plays from Shakespeare and brief passages from Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

The course will be available from Monday, June 2.