Conservation of Masonry Ruins Course at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Press Release: Sustainable and Environmentally Sensitive Approaches Inform Latest Conservation and Repair of Masonry Ruins Course

Part of the Building Conservation Masterclass series

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation announces changes to their annual Conservation and Repair of Masonry Ruins course, which takes place between Monday 18 - Thursday 21 November, 2019 near Chichester, West Sussex. This is one of a series of Building Conservation and Repair courses that the College offers in collaboration with Historic England.

As Subject Leader for Historic Building Conservation and Repair, Catherine Woolfitt explains: "The Masonry Ruins course has been re-designed with an emphasis on sustainable and environmentally sensitive approaches to the conservation of ruined structures and their sites."

She continues: "The course will address the challenges faced by those responsible for the conservation of ruined masonry in the current climate of changing weather conditions and limited resources."

"In addition to the lectures, practical sessions on the College's unique Ruinette will impart the knowledge and practical skills that underpin the conservation of ruined masonry structures."

Sophie Norton, Sector Skills Manager at Historic England said: "Historic England staff have been closely involved with West Dean College's Building Conservation Masterclasses for a number of years. We are pleased that the college maintains a range of exceptional resources - including the unique ruinette, a simulation ruin that course delegates can practice conservation techniques on. These courses continue to offer excellence in building conservation training, which closely aligns with our series of Practical Building Conservation books."

The course will include:

  • How to survey and assess the condition of a ruin. And identify defects and vulnerability to weathering.
  • Understanding the ecology of ruined sites, the plants and animals that inhabit them, their significance and impact on ruined structures. This includes Historic England research into the effects of ivy on masonry and implications of statutory protection of some species of flora and fauna. (Specialist input from National Landscape Advisor Alan Cathersides)
  • Understanding and identification of the diverse range of historic mortars encountered in ruined structures, including those based on or gauged with earth.
  • Understanding and identification of past interventions, such as re-setting of broken wall heads and installation of substantial ferrous metal supports and ties, concealed within masonry.
  • How to design and assess remedial work options to suit the structure, its site and environment.
  • "Soft wall cappings" - how these protect ruined structures and provide an alternative to "hard cappings"; how to design, install and maintain them, drawing on the latest research from Historic England.
  • How to design and prepare suitable repair mortars using a range of binders (from quicklime - "hot lime" mixes - to natural hydraulic limes), aggregates, and additives.

Aimed at conservators, conservation officers, architects, surveyors, craftspeople and specialist contractors, the Building Conservation courses attract interest from all over the world. Participants will ideally have training/experience in the field and/or a minimum of two years practical experience. Other courses in 2019/2020 include:

  • November 11-14 - Mortars for Repair and Conservation
  • January 27 -30 - Specifying Conservation Works
  • February 3-6 - Conservation and Repair of Architectural and Structural Metalwork
  • March 9-12 - Structural Repair of Historic Buildings
  • March 23-25 - Coatings and Consolidants for Masonry
  • April 6-8 - Masonry Cleaning
  • April 20-23 - Conservation and Repair of Timber
  • May 11-14 - Conservation and Repair of Brick and Flint Masonry
  • May 18-21 - Conservation and Repair of Slate and Stone Roofing
  • May 26-29 - Conservation and Repair of Plasters and Renders
  • June 8-11 - Managing Wildlife in the Historic Environment
  • July 20-23 - Conservation of Historic Concrete
  • September 21-24 - Conservation and Repair of Tile Roofing
  • September 28 - October 1 - Conservation and Repair of Stone Masonry

Students can also complete a series of Building Conservation Masterclasses to gain a Professional Development Diploma in Historic Building Conservation and Repair, which is recognised by Historic England. The courses offer the opportunity to study the technical and practical skills relevant to the repair and maintenance of historic buildings and structures. Most courses are three or four days. Prices start at £483.

For further information and booking, see or phone the Bookings Office: +44 (0)1243 818300.

Notes to Editors

  • 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.

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