"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 to travel countrywide together, learning on site from architects and specialist craftspeople 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.


Three or four Scholarships are awarded each year, depending on funding. There is no course fee and Scholars will receive a bursary in the region of £8600 to cover basic travel and living costs. Supplementary finance is usually required. Running between March and December, the nine-month full-time programme is highly rewarding but intensive (including some weekends) and it is not possible to combine it with work or other forms of study.


The majority of the nine-month programme is undertaken on site through visits guided by experts, with support from a SPAB mentor. There are no formal lectures or essay submissions, though Scholars are required to 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 follow a programme arranged by the SPAB. The final three months (the Plunket Scholarship) give Scholars the opportunity to explore in depth a theme of their choosing relating to the history, arts and allied crafts of the country house.

Scholars observe and experience traditional techniques and sympathetic repair in situ and visit structures of every age, size and style. The SPAB favours a hands-on approach, giving Scholars chance to try skills such as timber framing, thatching, blacksmithing and stone masonry, and to travel from time to time with the SPAB Fellows (craftspeople).

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 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 find on the government website.

Get involved

Current Scholars

2017's Scholars were: 

  • Lilian Main - architect from Australia
  • Aoife Murphy - structural engineer from Ireland
  • Kristian Foster - an architect from North Staffordshire
How to apply for the Scholarship

Architects, building surveyors and structural engineers who have completed their formal training and have some experience working in their field are eligible. Applicants must be passionate about historic buildings and willing to spend long periods away from home. Eligible overseas candidates are welcome to apply provided that they have good spoken English and a UK base for the duration of the programme. The closing date for 2018 has just passed, but do contact us if you're interested in applying in subsequent years.

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 sponsors to the Scholarship programme: