Face-to-face tuition returns for Cathedral masons

Face-to-face tuition returns to cathedrals as students on socially distanced bankers start their carving module.

The Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship (CWF) has resumed face-to-face training at cathedrals after 19 challenging months of online teaching. 

The delayed ‘Covid Cohort’ of Foundation degree students, funded by the Hamish Ogston Foundation (HOF), were delighted to be able to travel to York Minster for their carving module this month (October).

Socially distanced bankers were set up in the courtyard of St William’s College, where tutor Martin Coward guided the 12 students through the first stages of their assessed carving task.

The students will complete their carvings over the next few weeks and convene at Chester Cathedral in November for their assessment.

Meanwhile, the first cohort recruited during the pandemic, also generously funded with a grant of £700,000 by the Hamish Ogston Foundation, has just enrolled on its course, with 14 students attending their first Study Workshop in Lincoln. They were treated to a close-up look at the Gallery of Kings on the West Front of the cathedral.

The Hamish Ogston Foundation has invested £1.2million in craft training with the CWF and is supporting a total of 25 crafts people at various stages of their training this year.

A further round of funding from 2022-2025 will take the Foundation’s total investment in cathedral crafts skills to £3.1million and secure training places for as many as 50 craft trainees. The project is key to maintaining the flow of the skilled craftspeople the cathedrals depend on.

Student carvingAnna Steinmetzer is one of the Foundation Degree students. She works at Exeter Cathedral. She said: “The Hamish Ogston Foundation has been really helpful to my cohort. Things were very difficult due to Covid and Hamish Ogston stepping in and giving some funding helped to secure positions and made sure we could see the course through.”

Hannah Kendall, a stonemasonry apprentice at Gloucester Cathedral, added: “The first few weeks have been really good. We’ve been up on the scaffolding doing repointing, which is new for me, so I’ve learnt a lot already. Stonemasonry is really important. I think it’s important to train people in the skills that have always been used so that when we do maintain and restore buildings, we stay true to how they were originally built.”

Frances Cambrook, CWF Executive Director, is delighted and relieved to be able to resume the delivery of the face-to-face courses, albeit under a ‘new normal’.

“There is only so much you can do online with practical craft subjects and the students were really missing out by not being able to visit cathedrals and other historic buildings,” she says.
“We are so fortunate that the Hamish Ogston Foundation has recognised the value of the training we provide for craftspeople. Craft skills take time to develop, and it is so important that the training momentum is maintained through the difficult years ahead.”

Copyright Lincoln Cathedral

Photo: Lincoln Cathdral