Press Release: West Dean College of Arts and Conservation launch new 12-month programme of building conservation master classes

- The courses reflect the ever-changing advancements in Building Conservation -

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation has just launched its latest programme of courses focussing on Historic Building Conservation running from October 2021 – September 2022. The courses include a variety of onsite courses as well as e-blended courses, which have been supported by a grant from Historic England’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund. Taking place for the first time will be Conservation and Repair of Tile Roofing (Monday, November 8 – Thursday, November 11, 2021). The course will be led by Richard Jordan who is a specialist in historic roofing based in Derbyshire and provides training and advice across the United Kingdom. An experienced roof slater and tiler, his interest and passion for our built heritage developed while working with his father, who was his mentor. He will be joined by Chris Wood who recently retired from Historic England.

The course is intended to fill a gap in practical training in traditional roofing. The new tile roofing course is offered along with the existing four-day course Conservation and Repair of Slate and Stone Roofing which runs for four days from Monday, October 18 to Thursday, October 21 2021. This in-depth course focuses on the conservation and repair of traditional slate and stone buildings and gives an introduction to their history. Participants will start by gaining an understanding of how roofs work, the different materials used, including regional variations and methods of construction. Modern codes of practice and standards are covered, with practical demonstrations and hands-on work in making and preparing slates and the application of mortars to roofs. The course comprises a combination of practical sessions on surveying old roofs, traditional detailing, writing specifications and finding sources of information, along with films.

As Catherine Woolfitt, Subject Leader (Building Conservation) commented: “In a recent interview prior to his retirement, lecturer Dr David Farrell who taught the Conservation and Repair of Architectural and Structural Metalwork building conservation master class, mentioned how important it was to adapt to changes in the profession. The courses at West Dean College are responding on a regular basis, whether with new elements, or new tutors to ensure we bring students the very latest advice and practices.”

For the first time, there will be a course focussing on building surveys and recording which is planned for June 2022 – more details will be available in due course.

Other courses include:

Novermber 15-17 - Coatings and Consolidants for Masonry

November 22-25 – Specifiying Conservation Works

March 1-2 - Conservation and Repair of Plasters and Renders, Online and Workshop Based

March 14-16 - Conservation & Repair of Stone Masonry, Online and Workshop Based

April 4-6 - Masonry Cleaning

April 4-7 - Conservation and Repair of Timber

July 18-21 - Conservation and Repair of Brick and Flint Masonry

September 12- 15 - Conservation and Repair of Architectural and Structural Metalwork

These courses can be taken on their own, or as one of the seven core Building Conservation Masterclasses (BCMs) required for completion of the Professional Development Diploma (PDD) in Historic Building Conservation and Repair. The courses offer special value to those who wish to gain a new perspective in applying conservation principles to the repair and maintenance of historic structures such as architects, conservation officers, masons, carpenters and others involved in conservation, as well as to engineers.

Feedback from previous BCM courses shows that 99% of participants are likely to recommend the College to others (based on 2019-2020 student feedback). Comments include: "I really valued the opportunity to share skills and experiences (both focussed and more broadly associated with course content) in a relaxed and mutually supportive environment." Paul, Structural Repair of Historic Buildings student, 2019.

"The diversity of information and knowledge from [the tutors]. It was a pleasure to listen to their experiences and also learn from their mistakes which they acknowledged was an important part of the course. Also, meeting other delegates from all over the world and hearing about their work and issues they have was extremely helpful; it's brilliant to network and understand their work as well as getting to know them on a personal level too." Amelia, Structural Repair of Historic Buildings student, 2019.

The interview with Dr David Farrell can be read:

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 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 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, the College has put in place measures operating on a principle of the same as, or better than, national guidelines. This includes social distancing, self-opening doors, less students in workshops, and extensive cleaning and sanitising protocols to protect students and staff. For more details on Social Distancing and COVID-19 measures, please visit

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Notes to Editors:

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.

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:
Telephone: 07790 732448

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