An important lesson I learned as a William Morris Craft Fellow, is that in building conservation there are always three parties involved: the conservator, the custodian and the building. To conserve stained glass you need to understand the window, its subject, its materials and its history.
- Lizzie Hippisley-Cox, 2016 Stained Glass Conservator Fellow
The best thing about the format is the total immersion, for example there is always time to reflect, with other Scholars or Fellows or hosts. There is always opportunity to discuss thoughts and issues in a supportive and developmental way.
- Ross Buckley 2017 Metalworker Fellow
The SPAB’s William Morris Craft Fellowship was founded in 1987. This unique annual scheme is designed to broaden the skills and experience of craftspeople from any trade who work in the repair of historic buildings. The programme gives Fellows the chance to travel countrywide together and learn on site from specialist craftspeople, architects and contractors working in building conservation.
Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's programme has been suspended and will resume in 2021. Three or four Fellowships are awarded each year, depending on funding. There is no course fee and Fellows will receive a bursary in the region of £6,500 to cover basic travel and living costs. Supplementary finance is usually required. CITB grant funding may also be available for employers registered with CITB at least 12 months prior to the Fellowship programme.
The majority of the programme is undertaken through visits guided by experts, with support from an SPAB mentor. There are no formal lectures or submissions, though Fellows make periodic verbal reports and keep a programme notebook.
The six-month programme is divided into three blocks of two months, enabling Fellows to return to work between blocks.*
Over the next few years we are particularly looking to attract those interested or already working with mills of any type (see SPAB Fellowship – Millwright Training Opportunity in 'How to apply' download).
*Applicants interested in the millwright training opportunity will not return of their usual place of work between Fellowship Blocks. Instead, an arranged period of work with millwrights and associated trades will be put in place for them during these periods. This must be agreed before acceptance of a Fellowship place. There will be an additional bursary allowance to cover a Fellow whilst he or she is on this directed period of work.
Running between March and December, the programme is full-time and intensive (including some weekends), so it is not possible to combine blocks with work or other forms of study. In the first two blocks, Fellows experience traditional materials, skills and repair techniques in workshops and through a range of site visits, arranged by the SPAB. The third block is tailored to the individual interests and training needs of each Fellow.
The SPAB favours a hands-on approach, giving Fellows chance to develop their skills in their own craft and to try others, such as timber framing, thatching, blacksmithing, pargeting, flint knapping and stone masonry. On site, Fellows are encouraged to debate traditional building construction, causes of decay, repair techniques and use of materials. Fellows will from time to time travel with the SPAB Scholars (architects, surveyors and structural engineers).
The SPAB recruits Scholars and Fellows on merit and is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in the sector. We particularly welcome applications by people from backgrounds under-represented in building conservation (such as those from a low socio-economic background, women and black and minority ethnic communities).
Please note that the offer of a SPAB Fellowship is subject to the applicant providing evidence of their right to live and work in the UK. The SPAB cannot guarantee that it will be able to sponsor any applicants with their visa applications. Applicants should first consider their eligibility for a UK visa, information can be found on the government website.
Read more about our Fellows and Scholars on our blog. Please feel free to contact us to talk about your application: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you'd like to chat to someone who's lived the experience we can also put you in touch with a Fellow.