Fostering the next generation of heritage crafters at Chester Cathedral

Stonemason chipping at stone

Fostering the next generation of heritage crafters at Chester Cathedral

Published: 06 December 2023
We’re thrilled to be supporting Chester Cathedral with a grant of £8,500 from our Heritage Skills for Christian Buildings grants programme. The funding will support a unique training programme in the North West, which forms part of a larger heritage project.
Chester Cathedral is an architectural masterpiece, standing testament to over a millennium of history and heritage. As a Grade I listed building, a spiritual sanctuary and a vital community centre, its preservation and enrichment is vital. 
In 2018, recognising the urgent need to sustainably repair and conserve the building, Chester Cathedral established its Works Department – an award-nominated department that embodies the cathedral’s commitment to education and heritage. The core vision was to combine education with heritage preservation, creating an initiative that not only ensures the structural preservation of the cathedral but also imparts heritage craft skills that are at risk of being lost. The cathedral aims to foster a workforce equipped with heritage skills.
The Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship has enabled Chester Cathedral to engage a young stonemasonry apprentice, who will work towards achieving a qualification in stonemasonry. This position represents more than just a salaried position; it symbolises a tangible investment in the preservation of the cathedral’s heritage and a blueprint of how other heritage organisations can nurture the next generation of heritage craftspeople.
An £8,500 grant from Benefact Trust’s Heritage Skills for Christian Buildings grants programme will help to fund the course fees, acquire essential tools, and secure educational resources for the apprentice. In the very near future, his expertise will be instrumental in the care and preservation of Chester Cathedral and other historically important buildings in the local community.
In recent years, there has been a concerning decline in formal training opportunities for crucial heritage skills, which are vital for the preservation of historic structures. Educational institutions have progressively reduced offerings in these specialised trades, resulting in a shrinking pool of skilled professionals. The North West currently lacks any dedicated facilities for stonemasonry training, highlighting the need for organisations like Chester Cathedral to step-up and take action. The cathedral recognises that by bolstering the training and nurturing of heritage skills, they help to fortify the foundations of our cultural heritage and ensure its preservation for years to come.
Benefact Trust’s vision aligns with that of the cathedral. Our Heritage Skills for Christian Buildings grants are helping to conserve historic Christian buildings by funding apprenticeships, scholarships and training courses in stonemasonry, carpentry, and any other relevant heritage skills. We care for the UK and Ireland’s rich heritage and want to create opportunities for the next generation.
Find out more about Benefact Trust’s Heritage Skills for Christian Buildings Grants programme.
The outside of Chester Cathedral

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