When will the working party take place?
This year the site will open to volunteers at midday on Thursday 7 July and we will be closing the site at 5pm on Wednesday 13 July after clearing up. Actual days where work will be carried out are Friday to Tuesday.
What is the working party?
Each year the SPAB decamps from its London HQ to put its advice and expertise into practice at its annual summer working party. Carrying out work to a specific building is where the SPAB community demonstrates its approach to the conservation and care of old buildings, allowing us to combine well-proven principles with practical repair techniques. An increasingly popular event, it offers the chance for volunteers, ranging from informed amateurs interested in buildings and history to heritage and architectural professionals, to work alongside the country’s best craftspeople.
Our short film from last year's working party at Boxley Abbey should give you some idea of what the event is all about.
SPAB Working Party 2021
Where will the working party take place?
We are back at medieval Boxley Abbey for the fourth year. This former monastic site near Maidstone in Kent is a remarkable survival and one of the most complete of the group of Cistercian abbeys which were established as daughter houses by larger monasteries. Above-ground remains include fragments of the church and cloister, the high stone wall and gateway surrounding a 23-acre inner precinct, and the intact 200ft-long ‘hospitium’. The whole inner precinct, aside from the Abbey House and its garden walls, is a scheduled ancient monument.
The working party will also partly be held at St Andrew's (former) Chapel, a fascinating building just within the abbey's outer precinct which was purchased by the SPAB at the end of 2018. Although the role and history of this structure are still being explored by the Society, it seems to date from the 15th century and to have been built as a reliquary chapel. We hope to uncover some of this building's secrets as part of the working party and to get volunteers involved with our larger Old House Project, which is based at St Andrew's.
Scope of work
At Boxley Abbey we will be carrying out work across the 17-acre site. We will continue stone and brickwork repairs of the garden wall. In the hospitium we will be repointing and carrying out floorboard and joinery scarfing repairs. The precinct wall and outbuildings will be surveyed and scanned, and we hope to carry out trial archaeological excavations across the site to understand what we picked up in last year’s geo-physical and ground penetrating radar archaeological surveys.
At our own Old House Project site, at St Andrews, we will be working across the site reducing ground levels, installing hedges, improving drainage, whilst looking for important archaeology and hidden details. The external walls will be pointed where necessary and carpentry repairs to the historic timber frame and window frames will be undertaken. All the mortar for both sites will be made from locally sourced Oxted Grey Chalk, Kentish Ragstone and Septaria burnt by Working Party participants in our OHP field kiln.
Who can take part?
As always, the working party will provide a unique opportunity for building professionals, craftspeople, general builders, students, homeowners, and enthusiasts alike to learn traditional conservation building skills through hands-on experience.
The SPAB is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in the sector. We particularly welcome applications by people from backgrounds underrepresented in building conservation. Under 18-year-olds can attend, if they are accompanied by a responsible adult at all times - please contact email@example.com to register your interest if you are under 18.
Place allocation, costs, and free places for students
Applications are now open and the deadline is 5pm on Monday 13 June 2022. We’ll aim to be in touch by Friday 24 June 2022 to let applicants know if their applications have been successful. This year you can either apply to attend the Working Party for a whole week (from Thursday 7 July to Wednesday 13 July) or half a week (Thursday 7 July to Sunday 10 July or Sunday 10 July to Wednesday 13 July).
To cover materials, catering (breakfasts and lunches), and camping facility costs, we're asking volunteers to contribute £150 for the event (£90 if attending for half a week). We'll send you further details on how to pay when we confirm your place.
This year, the SPAB is delighted to offer a number of bursary places at the working party. These include free attendance and a subsistence and travel allowance up to £150.
You can apply for a bursary place as part of submitting this form. If you have any questions before you apply, or would prefer to apply in another format, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org, marking your message “Working Party Bursary”.
Anyone can apply for a bursary, but priority will be given to students, people who are unemployed or those needing financial assistance to support their attendance at the Working Party.
The SPAB is committed to eliminating discrimination and encouraging diversity in the sector. We particularly welcome applications by people from backgrounds underrepresented in building conservation.
Bursary places at the Working Party are made possible through a generous donation from Men of the Stones Charitable Trust. An additional place is available this year thanks to a kind donation from a SPAB member. Our thanks go to both for their support.
Most people camp on-site to make the most of the social aspects of the working party. Camping is free but please bring your own tent, sleeping bag, and any other equipment. There are various budget hotels nearby if you prefer to arrange your own accommodation - please note that they aren't within easy walking distance of the site though so best for those with their own transport.
We are committed to keeping the Working Party running as safely as possible. Hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser will be available throughout the site, and most activities will be taking place outside. We advise participants who have coronavirus symptoms and/or test positive for Covid 19 to stay at home and avoid contact with others for five days, in line with latest government guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Please help us keep everyone safe by acting in a sensible way.
Measures may change depending on government guidelines. If the situation changes, we may need to cancel the event or restrict numbers at short notice.
We'll keep all participants informed and, if we do need to cancel your place, you will receive a refund for any contribution you have made to the SPAB towards the cost of the event.
Please read our Booking Terms & Conditions for more information about cancellations and refunds.
If you would like to get in touch with the organisers please email email@example.com.
Accessibility: please let us know via the application form if there are any adaptations we can make that would make the Working Party more accessible for you. We would be happy to have an informal chat about the event and possible access issues before you apply.
7th July 2022 12:00 PM through 13th July 2022 5:00 PM
MAIDSTONE KENT ME14 3BT
Image credit: Daniel Bridge