Like a Rolling Stone. Mason.

Stonemasons and other craftspeople responsible for the conservation, maintenance and repair of our cathedrals have been given a much needed boost today with an award from Historic England so they can adapt their working programme in light of Covid-19 pandemic and welcome back their students.

Big shout out to Historic England for helping fund new ways of working for our vital stonemasons and other craftspeople.

Canterbury, Durham, Exeter, Gloucester, Lincoln, Salisbury, Winchester, Worcester and York Minster – nine of our Church of England cathedrals all of which have stonemason yards – make up the Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship and are behind the development and delivery of a foundation degree programme for stone masons and other cathedral craftspeople.

Historic England has just announced a grant of £47k to re-shape the delivery of this programme in response to the challenges of COVID-19.

Frances Cambrook, Executive Director, Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship said:

Covid-19 forced us to suspend delivery of our work-based craft skills training course in mid-March and we are unsure when we shall be able to welcome students back again – what we do know is that we shall have to make significant adjustments to the course to meet new social distancing and travel guidelines.

“This funding will enable us to maintain momentum and develop alternative ways of delivering our highly practical course for heritage crafts people using webcasts, video demonstrations and other remote learning tools,”  she added.

Worcester Cathedral has been involved in delivering the course content as well as benefiting from stonemasons who have completed the programme and Worcester’s Chief Operating Officer, Val Floy said:

“At a time when retaining the vital heritage skills is at risk and a real challenge, this is a fantastic indication of support from Historic England.”

Emily Draper, Worcester Cathedral’s Assistant Works Manager graduated from the course in 2017 and is now a Work Based Tutor for the CWF.

She said:

“Each module I undertook was carefully designed to improve my understanding of historical building conservation – from architectural history to geometry and carving – and took me on a journey of discovery across the country to visit and learn at our other great cathedrals and churches.

“The course is intrinsically designed to operate in tandem with your own working life and I personally encountered many ways in which my degree learning experiences fed into my professional practices at Worcester Cathedral. “