Working Party 2020

2020 Summer Working Party: Boxley Abbey and the Old House Project

Boxley Abbey and the Old House Project

13/07/2020 - 19/07/2020
Boxley Abbey
United Kingdom

£150 to cover food and materials

Event details


When will the working party take place?

This year the site will open to volunteers at midday on the Monday 13 July and we will be closing the site at lunchtime on the Sunday 19 July after clearing up. Actual days where work will be carried out are Tuesday to Saturday.


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. Putting our efforts to helping work on 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.


Where will the working party take place?

We are back at medieval Boxley Abbey for a second 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 is 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 site. We will continue stone and brickwork repairs of the garden wall. In the hospitium we will be limewashing, repointing and carrying out floorboard scarfing repairs. The precinct wall and outbuildings will be surveyed and we will undertake a full geo-physical and ground penetrating radar archaeological survey

At our own site, St Andrews, we will be carrying out repairs to the Kent peg tile roof, and burning locally-sourced grey chalk to supply the working party with materials. As always, this working party will provide a unique opportunity for building professionals and enthusiasts alike to learn traditional conservation building skills through hands-on experience.  

For anyone interested in a more in-depth learning experience about lime production using a field kiln we will be running a two-day workshop on 1-2 June 2020 at St Andrew's.


Place allocation, costs and free places for students

Registration is not a guarantee of a place on the working party, but if you are interested in volunteering please click the BOOK NOW button to fill out an application form and we will let you know as soon as we can if you have a place. Please ensure you explain why you would like to attend the working party and what you would learn from attending when you register, as this will help us to fairly allocate places. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2020.

To cover materials, catering (breakfasts and lunches) and camping facility costs, we're asking volunteers to contribute £150 for the event. We'll send you further details on how to pay when we confirm your place. 



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. Some very limited shared accommodation is available in bunkhouses about a ten minute walk from the site at £10 per person per night - if you are interested in this, please tick the relevant box. Places for the bunkhouse will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and it may not be possible to find space for everyone.


If you would like to get in touch with the organisers please email

Booking Terms & Conditions

Accessibility: please contact the SPAB before booking to discuss any special access requirements.

Getting here