Denman College

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Denman College, Marcham (geograph 4773660).jpg
TypeAdult education
Marcham, Oxfordshire, England

51°40′8.04″N 1°20′49.2″W / 51.6689000°N 1.347000°W / 51.6689000; -1.347000Coordinates: 51°40′8.04″N 1°20′49.2″W / 51.6689000°N 1.347000°W / 51.6689000; -1.347000 Edit this at Wikidata

Denman, formally Denman College, was a residential adult education college centred on what was Marcham Park at Marcham in the English county of Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire). Founded by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) in 1948, Denman offered day schools and residential courses in cookery, craft and lifestyle, as well a variety of events, conferences and weddings.

In July 2020 the NFWI trustees announced the proposed permanent closure of the college.


The central Georgian house was previously called Marcham Park and stands on the site of the original manor house of Marcham, which was a grange of Abingdon Abbey. The present house dates from the late 17th century but was heavily remodelled for Thomas Duffield in around 1820. Its most well-known resident was Duffield's grandfather-in-law, the infamous miser, John Elwes.

The house is Grade II listed[1] and on 9 November 2015, the centenary of the first WI meeting in England, Denman's entry in the National Heritage List for England was updated to include the WI connection, as were records for three other buildings of WI significance.[2]

Women's Institute college[edit]

Staff and students at the lake, 1950s

The college was formally established in 1948, and named after Lady Denman, the first chairwoman of the WI federation.[3] By the 21st century, students attending Denman did not have to be members of the WI, and the college accepted male and female learners, as well as those with young children for family courses in the Cookery School.

Residential courses at Denman lasted between one and four nights, and non-residential day courses were also offered. Course subject areas included arts, crafts, music, history, sport, technology and more. Denman was also the home of the WI Cookery School.


In July 2020 the trustees announced that they could no longer afford to run Denman at a loss, and proposed its permanent closure.[4][5]


  1. ^ Historic England. "Denman (1368564)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Women's Institute buildings relisted for centenary/". BBC News. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  3. ^ "About Denman College: History". The WI. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007.
  4. ^ "Important update about Denman". Denman. 23 July 2020. Archived from the original on 6 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  5. ^ National Federation of Women's Institutes (13 February 2020). "Denman – our college". Retrieved 6 October 2020.

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