What was the effect of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation on the people of Leicester?

The ‘Reformation in Leicestershire’ is an educational resource that has been designed to support the teaching of the National Curriculum’s Key Stage 3 Programme of Study on “the development of Church State and Society in Britain 1509-1745”. It focuses on aspects of ‘The English Reformation and Counter-Reformation (Henry VIII to Mary I)’ and ‘the Elizabethan religious settlement and conflict with Catholics’. It also relates to the curriculum requirement for students to test how far sites in their locality reflect aspects of national history.


Teaching idea

Pupils will learn about the Reformation via five short films. Within the PPT each film has a corresponding set of pupil activity sheets, to help students reinforce and reflect on the content of the films. There is also a completed ‘Answer Sheet’ for each of the activities for teachers to reference, except for the Diamond 9 activity, for which there is not a ‘correct’ answer, provided the students can justify their selections.

The films explore aspects of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation with specific reference to events and people connected to Leicester and Leicestershire, enabling the teaching to link to aspects of Local History Studies also.

The PPT contains all the teaching resources, printable materials, relevant links to each film and the answers. Additional teacher notes and suggestions can be read in the notes section of the PPT.

Film 1: Henry VIII and the Protestant Reformation

This film covers the battle for religious supremacy during the whole of the Tudor dynasty. It provides the big picture of what was happening in England during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. It serves as a revision for what the pupils should already know and includes a reformation timeline of the monarchs, the dates and the major events during this period.

Film 2: The Counter-Reformation and Elizabeth’s Great Compromise

This film looks at the success, limitations and consequences of Mary I’s Counter-Reformation and Elizabeth I’s policies to find a Protestant compromise.

Film 3: Recusants in Leicestershire

This film examines Catholics attempts to continue to worship during the Reformation. It looks at an example of the Digby family of Donington le Heath Manor House in northwest Leicestershire.

Film 4: Leicester Before the Reformation

This film explores the scandals that beset the Abbot and clergy of Leicester Abbey, which reinforce the corrupt view of Religious Houses at the time. This is then compared with the active roles mendicant friars played in the medieval town.

Film 5: The Mendicant Orders of Leicester

As a contrast to the large Abbey in Leicester, this film looks at the role of the smaller religious houses in Leicester and their eventual fate.

Learning aims and outcomes

  • To test how far sites in their locality reflect aspects of national history
  • To understand the chronology of events during the English Reformation
  • To examine continuity and change
  • To analyse the consequences of the Reformation and Counter Reformation in England and how this related to Leicestershire
  • To analyse the significance of the dissolution of the priories and monasteries
  • To use an interpret contemporary primary sources
  • Understand the method of historical inquiry including how evidence is used to make historical claims

Prior knowledge

  • The resources place the events of the Reformation in Europe into a local context to explore the impact on the people of Leicester. They reference built heritage, most of which can still be seen and visited. They would best be used once the pupils have a good grounding in the national story. The resources have been produced so that pupils can “gain historical perspective by placing their growing knowledge into different contexts, understanding the connections between local, regional, national and international history.”