Funding to help heritage scholars master their craft

Rachel Phillips painting a stained-glass window in a church

Funding to help heritage scholars master their craft

Published: 29 June 2023
A carpenter and stained-glass artist are the first two scholars to benefit from our multi-year grant to Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. Over the next three years, the ‘Heritage Skills for Christian Buildings’ grant will support six scholars and three apprentices to hone their skills and become masters in their craft.
Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) is one of Benefact Trust’s original heritage partners, having received funding in 2019 to support seven scholars and three apprentices in a range of craft skills. Now that the Heritage Grants programme has developed to support training specific to the conservation of Christian buildings, we are supporting a new cohort of talented students.
Louis Curtis

The first scholar to benefit from the grant is Louis. He is based in Hertfordshire and began training as a carpenter and joiner in 2006 and later gained a 1st class degree in Historic Building Conservation from the Building Craft College and Kingston University.
In 2014, Louis set up Breakspear Conservation to focus on repair works to historic buildings. He has carried out repair works in the UK and abroad for organisations such as The National Trust, Canal and River Trust, Palace of Westminster, and Parochial Church Councils; blending traditional tools and carpentry techniques with modern conservation methodology. 
A 2023 QEST Scholarship will support Louis to gain an MSc Degree in ‘Timber Building Conservation’ at Weald and Downland Living Museum in conjunction with the University of York Archaeology Department.  This will enable him to further his skills and understanding of timber conservation by combining practical craft skills with theoretical knowledge, studying under master-carpenter and conservator Joe Thompson, and accessing a unique learning environment.
Louis Curtis climbing up the outside of a building
Rachel Phillips

Rachel trained in Architectural Stained Glass and since 2000 she has been creating beautiful commissions for a variety of contexts and buildings. Until 2019 she was a specialist glass painting tutor at the Swansea School of Glass and more recently, she has been developing work free from context or architecture as a way of exploring her creativity more fully. 
Rachel’s 2023 QEST Scholarship will support a series of bespoke masterclasses to enhance her creative development, equipping her for a new chapter in her artistic journey. She will enhance her skills in gilding, screen printing with silver and copper stains and layered enamels, glass engraving, glass bonding and more. 
Rachel is looking to explore skills in more contemporary works, but she still plans to work on commissions for churches and is hoping that this training will give her a wider skill set.
Rachel said: “The development of my skills will positively contribute to my area of craft in the UK by allowing me to develop my autonomous stained glass to make work more visible in these areas and hopefully break new ground for stained glass and encourage others to do the same.”
If you’re a registered charity offering training in ecclesiastical heritage skills, find out more about our Heritage Skills for Christian Buildings grants.
A stained-glass window designed by Rachel Phillips

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