Keeping traditional skills alive with stone masonry course

Published: Tuesday July 18, 2023

This September, St Saviour’s Church in Redbrook is hosting its annual practical workshop in stone masonry, a pioneering partnership between cathedral masonry apprentices and this small village church in the Wye Valley.

Mark Bick, from St Saviour’s, says, “Last year, the team were joined by 10 apprentice stonemasons from cathedrals across England. It went so well, that the Cathedrals Workshop Fellowship has signed up for a long-term partnership.

“The weekends were the vision of local Conservation Architect Toby Falconer, who leads them on a voluntary basis. Those who want to learn the skills of lime mortar conservation come together with experienced stonemasons and they work on restoration of the church.”

Kath Hilsden, Senior Church Buildings Officer at the Diocese of Gloucester, explains, “Despite its enduring use over hundreds of years, it is only in the past few decades that we have begun to rediscover the importance of lime mortar in conserving historic buildings. Churches, like Redbrook, were built by local craftspeople using time-honoured practices, traditional methods of construction and natural materials. An understanding of lime, and its use in renders and mortars, is essential for anyone working on old buildings. This course will be of interest to anyone hoping to develop practical conservation skills.”

There is a shortage of people with skills in traditional lime masonry work. After two successful years, another course is being run by St Saviour’s Church from 22 to 24 September. It is run on a not-for-profit basis, funded through participant fees and a grant from Gloucestershire Historic Churches Trust.

St Saviour’s Redbrook has been on the Historic England ‘At Risk Register’ since 1982. It is a grade II listed building, built in 1873, that has suffered from exceptional masonry erosion, mostly due to pollution from the Redbrook tinplate works, which closed in 1961. Four highly experienced conservators will supervise and give demonstrations and the training will focus on raking out, mixing and pointing. Trainees will have the opportunity to do real work on sections of this building.

Download the flyer >> Masonry Training 2023 flyer

Full fees £180. Discounted and free places are available to local people willing to commit to voluntary work on Redbrook church and for young people who are just starting out. Contact Mark Bick on ku.oc1701472032.kcib1701472032kram@1701472032kram1701472032 to ask about free or discounted rates or for bookings.

Watch a video of the 2021 course below












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