"A unique opportunity to combine my love of historic buildings, travel and meeting new people. It enabled me to develop my own conservation philosophy based on the many different approaches we saw and the people we met. I feel very inspired and excited to continue my career as a conservation engineer."

- Triona Byrne, 2016 Scholar

Since 1930, the SPAB’s Lethaby Scholarship has offered an unrivalled training opportunity to architects, surveyors and engineers in the early stages of their career. It allows the successful applicants to travel the country together, learning on site from specialist craftspeople, architects, surveyors, engineers and the like working in building conservation. Many Scholars are now among the leading conservation experts in the UK and overseas, looking after a wide range of historic buildings and sites in a variety of roles.

If you'd like to chat to someone who's lived the experience we can put you in touch with a past Scholar.


Three or four Scholarships are awarded each year, depending on funding. There is no course fee and Scholars receive a bursary in the region of £9,400 to cover basic travel and living costs. However, supplementary personal finance in the region of £2,000 is usually required. Running between March and December, the nine-month full-time programme is highly rewarding but intensive (including some working weekends away). It is not possible to combine it with work or undertaking other forms of study. 


The majority of the programme is undertaken through site visits, guided by experts, with support from a mentor (a past Scholar).

There are no formal lectures or essay submissions, though Scholars are required to keep a sketchbook and make periodic verbal reports, and to submit a selection from their sketchbook at the end of the programme. The first six months of the Scholarship follows a schedule arranged by the SPAB where the focus is on learning and observing how to repair historic buildings and starting to understand and form a philosophy of repair. The final three months (known as the Plunket Scholarship) provides Scholars with the chance to widen their own interest in the allied arts by choosing their own subject and theme of study, and pursuing that through individual focused visits to country houses (usually each one or two weeks long).

The Scholarship is about observing, experiencing and debating traditional techniques and sympathetic repair in situ through visits to sites, buildings and structures across broad range of age, size and styles, guided by building conservation specialists. Scholars are required to keep detailed and graphic record of all work under study in a notebook. Understanding and respecting the role played by craft skills is a fundamental aspect of the SPAB approach. The hands-on element of the Scholarship gives Scholars the chance to try for themselves a wide range of craft skills such as timber framing, blacksmithing, stone masonry and thatching. Scholars will also spend some time traveling with the SPAB Fellows (craftspeople). 

Read more about our Scholars and Fellows on our blog.


Candidates are selected for interview (December 2022) following submission of application forms (closing date October 2022). Prior to the interview each candidate will be given the names of one or two past Scholars to contact. It is important that applicants contact, and ideally meet, at least one past Scholar to gain an accurate impression of the Scholarship and what it entails personally, professionally and financially. 

Candidates who prefer to submit a handwritten application are welcome to do so. Alternatively, there is also an online version of the application form.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your application:

Who should apply 

The Scholarship programme aims to support and educate the participants in the SPAB's hands-on approach to conservation and building repair and bring a practical aspect to their education. It is open to those who seek to be the decision-makers who shape the repairs and interventions to historic buildings, set their specifications and oversee their implementation. We encourage candidates who are near the start of their building conservation careers, and are aiming towards, if not having completed, their full professional qualification. Candidates need to have completed the academic based part of their qualifications and, ideally, should already have had some practical experience, or be able to demonstrate at least an active interest in working with their hands.

The SPAB recruits Scholars and Fellows on merit and is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in the sector. We particularly welcome applications from people from backgrounds that are currently under-represented in building conservation (such as from a low socio-economic background, women and hose from black and minority ethnic communities).

Please note that the offer of a SPAB Scholarship is subject to the applicant providing evidence of their right to live and work in the UK. The SPAB is not a registered sponsor body for the purpose of visa applications. Applicants from outside the UK and Ireland should check their eligibility for a UK visa before applying to the scheme. Information can be found on the government website

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2023 Scholarship applications

We welcome applications for 2023 between June and October 2022. Architects, building surveyors and structural engineers who have completed formal training and have experience working in their field are eligible. 




Current Scholars

Our 2022 Scholars are: ​

  • Serena Gildea, an engineer from Belfast
  • Katie Hood, an engineer from Edinburgh
  • Jacob Long, an architectural assistant from Bristol
  • Sinéad Scullion, an architect from Dublin
Support the Scholarship

The SPAB is grateful to all donors and sponsors who support the Scholarship programme and make it possible for us to continue offering this unique, hands-on learning experience. The Scholarship was founded to ensure the passing down of skills and knowledge to the next generation of building professionals entrusted with the care of our old buildings. 

Interested in hosting the Scholars and Fellows? Contact us


We are grateful to all the supporters who make the Scholarship programme possible: Dance Scholarship TrustDrake Trust,The National Philanthropic Trust, Fenton Arts Trust, Historic England, The John Vickers Charitable Trust, Patrick Plunket Memorial Trust, as well as the many hosts who give their time, energy, expertise and hospitality to make the Scholarship possible.