Mortars for Repair & Conservation Online and Workshop based with Catherine Woolfitt

BCM online/onsite

Ref: BCW11534

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2 places available

About this course

Learn how to analyse historic mortars and recognise defects commonly found on historic structures. 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 mortars using a range of methods, materials, and tools. You will complete three weeks of online learning. There will be online discussions via Zoom which will take place on two Thursday evenings from 18.00-19.00: 23 rd September and 7 October. Access to online elements of the course will expire on 3 1st October.

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. This course is also one of the seven core Building Conservation Masterclasses required for completion of the PDD (Professional Development Diploma) in Historic Building Conservation and Repair. Access to online elements to be released by Monday 13th September and will expire on 31 st October .

Course Description

Onsite sessions:
11 October 
Morning workshop sessions in the Ruinette, demonstrations and discussions include:
• Mortar components, lime binders, aggregates, pozzolanic and other additives
• Visual examination and analysis of hand samples
• Traditional mortar production, lime burning, lime slaking and mortar mixing
• Preparation methods including “hot lime” mixes
• Technology of building limes including the lime cycle and classification of binder types
• Non-hydraulic (high calcium) limes, hydraulic limes and natural cements, their characteristics and handling

Afternoon workshop sessions, demonstrations and practical sessions include:
• Preparation of masonry surfaces on the Ruinette: for joint treatment (repointing) of rubble stonemasonry and mortar (plastic) repairs to ashlar stonemasonry
• Appropriate masonry tools for various applications – cutting out mortar joints for repointing, preparing stone surface for mortar repairs
• Application of repair (repointing) mortar to rubble stonemasonry joints, Part 1. Joint filling 
• Application of mortar (plastic) repair to ashlar stonemasonry, Part 1, applying first (under) coat of mortar

Evening session:
Group Discussion led by tutors, based on student submissions, assignments completed in online course sessions.  Condition survey and assessment of historic mortars, past repair work, development of proposals for remedial work.

12 October 
Morning workshop sessions in the Ruinette:
• Mortar design, selection and blending of binder, aggregates, additives, pozzolans 
• Design and preparation of mortar for use in plastic repair to ashlar stone (finish coat)
• Joint Filling, Part 2, Application of repair (repointing) mortar to rubble stonemasonry joints.  How to compact, texture, model, and finish mortar surface
• Mortar repair to ashlar stone, Part 2. Placement of finish coat, how to model, texture, and finish mortar surface

Afternoon workshop sessions
Demonstrations, Practical Sessions and Group Discussions include:
• Completion of Practical sessions on Repointing and Mortar (Plastic) Repairs, Part 2.
• Curing and protection of repair mortars, how to avoid common defects such as cracking, environmental factors to consider
• Overview of other mortar applications in conservation in addition to repointing and mortar (plastic) repairs, including:
- Surface coatings – shelter coats, limewashes
- Grouting voids, fractures


Online sessions:

Your access to the online part of the course will be available from the date given in the course description and is to be completed before the onsite sessions. Full details will be given on booking.

Onsite sessions:

Day 1 – Arrival Day 
(Note: Students travelling a longer distance may book an overnight stay the night before, subject to availability)
10am – Registration and Welcome – House, Main Entrance (Please register at Reception Desk on arrival)
10.30 – 11 Introductory Session with Tea and Coffee, Auditorium
11am to 1pm – Course practical sessions in Ruinette workshop 
1.00 – 1.45pm Lunch – Main House  
1.45 to 5pm – Course sessions in Ruinette workshop 
Dinner 7 – 7.45pm  
8-9pm Evening Session, Estate Boardroom – Tutorial and Group Discussion, led by tutors 

Day 2 
9am to 1pm, with short Tea / Coffee break – Practical sessions in Ruinette workshop 
1.00 to 1.45pm Lunch – Main House 
2pm to 3.30pm – Practical sessions in Ruinette workshop
3.30pm –  Questions and Comments, Issue of Course Certificates 
4.00pm – Depart  (Tea and Coffee available prior to departure)

(Please note that slight variations in timetable may be made as necessary) 

Course Materials


Course materials and essential personal protective equipment (eye and hand protection), will be provided for onsite sessions.

What students need to bring

For onsite sessions students should bring their own footwear and clothing suitable for a workshop environment. Work boots and overalls to protect clothing are recommended. A limited number of overalls are available in the 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

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 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


Catherine Woolfitt

Catherine Woolfitt ACR MCIfA MA Classics MA Art Conservation - Subject Leader Historic Building Conservation and Repair

Catherine Woolfitt is an archaeologist and architectural conservator and has worked in the conservation of the built heritage since 1993. With wide-ranging work experience in Italy, Israel and the UK, her experience bridges the museum, object, and building conservation sectors. 


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

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