Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announce their first blended online and practice-based building conservation training

-The first course starts online from November and is supported by a grant from Historic England -

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is launching a new programme of blended online and practical workshop-based courses in Building Conservation. The first course Mortars for Repair and Conservation is on Monday, December 7 to Tuesday, December 8, 2020, comprising a 2-day practical workshop complemented by online units. The Building Conservation Masterclass is bookable now, with the online element to be done in advance starting from Monday, November 23, 2020

Targeted at architects, surveyors, engineers, stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, conservators and graduates, this course offers the opportunity to learn how to analyse historic mortars and recognise defects commonly found on historic structures. It will enable students to carry out condition assessment and develop and evaluate appropriate remedial work options. Students will learn how to prepare and apply lime-based mortars using a range of methods, materials, and tools.

All the courses will incorporate “hands on” practical exercises where students carry out repair techniques on the purpose-built Ruinette on-site at the College, along with two weeks of online learning (approx. 5 hours per week, 10 hours total) which will be accessible in the students’ own time, with scheduled online support. This blended learning approach delivers more flexibility for students and reduces the cost and time impact of professional development for building conservators.

As Catherine Woolfitt, Subject Leader of Historic Building Conservation at West Dean College, explains: “In June, West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was awarded a grant of £47,564 by Historic England to fund a pilot of courses that blended online and on-site approaches to learning. The grant comes from Historic England’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund, set up to help heritage organisations that have been affected by the impact of Coronavirus by providing grants to help them survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, and to prepare for recovery. The aim is to make building conservation more accessible, to widen participation and provide the knowledge and skills necessary to conserve our irreplaceable historic environment.”

She continues: “This course is open to anyone with an interest in historic buildings and their conservation. It is designed for those with some knowledge of building conservation who wish to develop their practical skills and experience. Students on building conservation courses typically include a mix of building professionals and practitioners. Participants normally find that interaction with others on the course is a key part of their learning experience. Learners with no knowledge in the field of building conservation may find they need to do additional reading or other work to benefit fully from the course.”

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation in West Sussex, has been running internationally respected Building Conservation Masterclasses in conjunction with Historic England since 1999. Students come from across the UK and further afield for a range of two and three day courses taught by experts from across the sector, and using the College’s unique Ruinette. Core subject areas include brick, flint, timber, stonemasonry, plasters, renders, metals, concrete and structural repairs. The courses, including this new blended course can also be taken as part of a Professional Development Diploma. Students include architects, surveyors, engineers, stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, conservators and graduates. To find out more, please see

To ensure a safe and welcoming campus during the practical element of the course, the College has put in place comprehensive health and safety measures to ensure a Covid-secure learning environment. Post national lockdown this will include social distancing, self-opening doors, restricted student numbers in workshops, and extensive cleaning and sanitising protocols to protect students and staff. More details can be found at

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Notes to Editors:

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 07790 732448

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ


About West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation is an educational charity whose mission is to provide the highest quality education in arts and conservation. Alongside the academic provision, the College supports an annual programme of residencies designed to provide research and development opportunities to artists and writers whilst enhancing the learning environment of the College. West Dean College of Arts and Conservation was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’. The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio. All photography is free to use for editorial purposes. West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London. 

About Historic England

Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.  We fundraise from individuals, charitable trusts and foundations and public sector bodies to enable us to deliver those aspects of our work that are not funded by our Government grant.