Heritage Crafts Given Funding Lifeline

29th January 2021

Canterbury, Chester, Durham, Exeter, Gloucester, Lincoln, Salisbury and Worcester Cathedrals have all received emergency funding to keep the specialist craftspeople they need to maintain and repair their heritage for future generations.

Some good news. Heritage crafts given finding lifeline to help preserve our cathedrals in the pandemic.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation (HOF) has joined forces with the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) to fund twenty-one stonemasonry and joinery trainees at these nine Church of England cathedrals this year.

Like Lewis Jones, who completed his NVQ 3 while at Worcester Cathedral in September 2020:

“The funding provided by the HOF has allowed me to continue my development as a stonemason at Worcester Cathedral, to work on a building I find deeply fascinating, and to progress academically in a field I am passionate about.

“This lifeline has come at just the right time as, due to Covid-19 and a worsening economy, I was stressing about getting work! The opportunity of being part of the CWF has been in my mind throughout my apprenticeship, and I’m incredibly grateful to the HOF for giving me the chance to do it!”

Lewis will now be able to start his CWF Foundation Degree course in September 2021.

And Stonemason Tony Murphy who had faced redundancy but will now be able to take up a new placement at Gloucester Cathedral and complete his course.

Tony said:

“The funding from the Hamish Ogston Foundation is enabling me to continue my learning through the CWF at Gloucester Cathedral. I am passionate about furthering my skills and deepening my knowledge and experience as a crafts person. The broad range of teaching, work-based learning and professional development provided by the CWF is an invaluable opportunity for me.”.

The emergency funding of £535,000 will give all twenty-one trainees, and their employers, stability at a time of uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and go a long way towards preserving these specialist skills into the future.

The funding marks the first phase of a five-year, £2.8m HOF/CWF project to expand heritage training at English cathedrals. Even before the pandemic, many cathedrals were reaching crisis point, with no dedicated public funding to help them address the backlog of repairs. Their financial position has been made much worse by COVID-19, in the wake of which it is unlikely that any cathedral will have the money to take on heritage craft trainees in the short term.

The HOF/CWF Craft Training project, details of which will be published shortly, will be key to maintaining the flow of skilled craftspeople on whom the future of our cathedrals depends.

CWF Executive Director Frances Cambrook said:

“We are very excited to be working with the Hamish Ogston Foundation on this important initiative. Cathedrals, like everyone, have been hit hard by the pandemic and the immediate future of our craft training programmes was in jeopardy. The funding will enable training to continue online throughout the rest of this academic year, avoiding the loss of trainee positions, and enable us to plan confidently to increase training opportunities over the next four years”.

The Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) is an association of ten Anglican cathedrals established in 2006 to provide education and training for the craftsmen and women who maintain cathedrals and other historic buildings.

Its students include heritage stonemasons, carpenter/joiners, electricians and plumbers.

The emergency funding supports the following trainees at CWF-affiliated cathedrals during the 2020/21 academic year:

  • Canterbury Cathedral, one Level 5 mason, one Level 3 mason, one Level 3 joiner
  • Chester Cathedral, one Level 5 mason, one Level 3 mason
  • Durham Cathedral, one Level 5 mason, one Level 2/3 mason
  • Exeter Cathedral, one Level 5 mason, one Level 3 improver mason
  • Gloucester Cathedral, one Level 5 mason
  • Lincoln Cathedral, one Level 5 joiner, one Level 3 mason, one Level 3 joiner
  • Salisbury Cathedral, one Level 5 mason
  • Worcester Cathedral, two Level 3 masons
  • York Minster, one Level 5 mason, three Level 3 masons, one Level 2 mason

Level 2 is equivalent to GCSE, Level 3 to A Level and Level 5 to Foundation Degree.

Find out about the heritage treasures that can be found in our 42 cathedrals here.