Conservation & Repair of Stone Masonry (Practical) with Nick Durnan

Ref: BCW13279

Location: Online
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About this course

You will be learning using a combination of remote online learning and "traditional" workshop learning here at the college. This is called a blended learning approach.

You will be given access to the online elements of the course from the 2 February 2024, there are 10 hours work in total which must be completed prior to attending practical workshop and classroom sessions at the College on 11-13 March 202 4 (5.30pm arrival). Online discussions via Zoom will take place on 5 Tuesday evenings from 6pm-7.30pm: 6 February (Introduction), 13 February, 20 February, 27 February and 5 March. Access to online elements of the course will expire on 29 April.

During the course you will learn how to recognise and analyse stone types and the defects commonly found on historic stonework. This course will enable you to carry out condition assessment and development and evaluation of appropriate remedial work options. You will learn how to prepare and apply lime-based stone repair mortars and fix a small indent (new stone piece-in) using a range of methods, materials, and tools.

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. BCM students 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. If you have no knowledge in the field of building conservation you may find you need to do additional reading or other work to benefit fully from the course.

Course Description

Online course content (approx. 10 hours) includes:
• Introduction to the College Health and Safety (including measures in place in response to the pandemic), your senior tutor Catherine Woolfitt, and Getting Started on your course
• Virtual introduction to other course participants through online activity guided by the tutor
• Access to our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) with course material to work through independently at your own pace
• Course material includes a combination of pre-recorded lectures, assigned activities, directed reading and viewing, PDFs of key information to save and keep
• Assigned activities for you to complete and upload to the VLE for group discussion online and subsequent face to face workshop and classroom sessions at West Dean
• Online discussion (at pre-assigned times), guided by the course tutor, to share ideas on content and activities
• Online technical support through the College Technical Resources and online learning support (at pre-assigned times) by the course tutor
• Online course content provides an introduction and essential information on the subjects outlined below
• Subsequent workshop sessions reinforce online learning through group discussion, demonstrations by tutors and hands on practical exercises where students carry out repair techniques on the Ruinette

Blended Learning Course Content (Blended: Online and Onsite)
You will be learning using a combination of remote online learning and "traditional" workshop learning here at the college

Overview of Online Content
Zoom sessions take place on 5 Tuesday evenings from 18.00- 19.00 
6 February(Introduction), 13 February, 20 February, 27 February, and 5 March.
1. Stone and Lime
1.1 Geology
1.2 Use of Stone in Traditional Buildings
1.3 Stone Working
1.4 Lime Technology

2. Conservation and Repair
2.1 Conservation Principles
2.2 Weathering and Decay (How stone changes over time)
2.2 Conservation and Repair Techniques
2.3 Preparing a Conservation Report

Face to Face Learning (13-15 March 2023)

3. Stone and Lime
3.1 Examining the Characteristics of a Range of  Stone Types
3.2 Examining the Characteristics of a Range of Mortar Types
3.3 Demonstrations of Lime Slaking and Mortar Mixing
3.4 Demonstrations of Stone Masonry Tool Skills
3.6 Practical Exercise in Applying a Stone Repair Mortar
3.7 Practical Exercise in Fixing a New Stone Indent (Piece-in)
3.8 Practical Exercise in Applying Limewash and Sheltercoat
3.9 Student Presentation of a Conservation Report on an Element of a Local Building
Your Onsite Sessions at the Ruinette at West Dean

Workshop sessions in the Ruinette with demonstrations, discussions and practical exercises:

  • Stone characteristics, workability, porosity, mineralogy, colour and texture
  • Masonry tools and techniques of working stone
  • Mortar components, lime binders, aggregates, pozzolanic and other additives
  • Visual examination and analysis of hand samples of stone and mortar
  • Traditional mortar production, lime burning, lime slaking and mortar mixing
  • Lime types and mixing a range of mortars.
  • The use of lime in repair and conservation of stone: grouting, mortars, plasters, shelter coat and limewash.
  • Application of mortar repair to moulded stonemasonry
  • Application of new stone indent (piece-in) to masonry wall

Group Discussion led by tutors, based on student submissions and assignments completed in online course sessions. Conservation report of an element of a building local to the student including description, history condition, proposals for repair and conservation.

Discussion of current conservation approaches and techniques for stone cleaning, repair, consolidation and protection

Course Materials

What students need to bring

Please remember to bring work clothes/overalls and shoes/boots for practical sessions.  A torch and umbrella may be useful on the short walk to the Auditorium and Ruinette.


Is it possible to book only the online or onsite part of the course?
The course is only available as a joint online and onsite course and both elements must be completed.

Can I book accommodation for the onsite part of the course?
Yes, to book accommodation or find out about accommodation prices please call 01243 818300 (option 2) or email [email protected].

What technologies are used to deliver the online part of the course?
We use CANVAS, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), for all your course materials. This is a system for delivering learning materials via the Internet. It offers you flexible access to all the course content, which is available to you for the duration of the course.

Do the course videos have subtitles for hearing impaired people?
Yes, all of our course videos have the option to display closed captions in English.

How do I access the online course?
You will receive your login details by email before the course start date.

What computer set-up will I need for the online element of the course?
You can watch our courses on all computers and devices – Mac, PC, Mobile and Tablet – with an Internet connection and a modern internet browser (see "What Web Browser do you recommend" below). You will need an email account to sign up for a course and an up-to-date web browser. Some of the course resources are presented as PDF files, which will require a PDF viewer such as Adobe Reader.

What web browser do you recommend?
PC users - Firefox ver. 54, Chrome ver. 58 or Edge ver. 14 or newer are recommended. Unfortunately, Internet Explorer 11 (or older) are not supported.
Mac users - Safari and Firefox are recommended.

We do not recommend using any Internet service provider's proprietary browser, as certain functions may be restricted. We regularly upgrade the site to add features and improve the quality of your experience. Please be sure to keep your browser updated. If you need to upgrade your browser, go to your browser manufacturer's website and download the most recent version.

Phones and tablets - All courses are built on a responsive platform, allowing for access on most smartphones and tablets.

What do I do if I experience technical issues?
If you have checked the technical requirements above and are using a suitable browser but the problem persists, email [email protected] with the details of your problem (including a screenshot if useful) for advice.

I’ve lost my login details, what do I do?
If you have deleted your login information please contact [email protected].


Nick Durnan

Nick Durnan - BCM Course Leader

Nick Durnan originally trained as a stone mason at Canterbury Cathedral and went on to study for a degree in carving and conservation at the City and Guilds of London Art School.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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