31 May 2022

Building Skills At Hatfield Park

Earlier this month, we hosted a Traditional Building Skills Course on flint wall repairs with Place Services. The course was coordinated as part of Place Services’ long running syllabus of Traditional Building Skills and Conservation Courses. Now running for over 30 years, they are designed to enable conservation and building professionals, contractors, builders, and the owners and managers of historic buildings, the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills, in the management of conservation and repair of historic buildings and wider historic environment. All of the courses and lectures are delivered by leading craftsmen and experts in their specialist fields.

For the last six years, the Place Services team have been working with our team here at Hatfield Park, to host practical courses and lectures, ranging from historic brick and timber repairs to laser scanning, structural surveys, and bat surveys, to give students the chance to work on live sites within a spectacular, historic location.

The latest course was a practical, three-day course on Flint Masonry Repairs, led by Lynn Matthias of Matthias Restoration. Through his family business, Lynn brings over 50 years of experience which has been passed down through generations. He was a former student of the courses and so, it was a particular pleasure to have him as a tutor.

The students began the course in the Donkey Store, with a short presentation on the history of flint and techniques for its use as a building material. We then made our way into the estate grounds, to begin training and undertake repairs to a flint wall. Megan Lloyd-Regan, course coordinator, said, “We are delighted to be back at Hatfield Park, working with the team here. The site was set within the Registered Park and Garden, so it felt really worthwhile to see the repairs to the wall take shape. All the students got stuck in and gave flint knapping a go too, which was great to see. We’re looking forward to coming back to continue the work on this beautiful, seventeenth-century wall.”

Lynn Matthias, the course tutor, shared how important he feels it is to pass on these skills, saying that, “Running the hands-on Flint Course at Hatfield is absolutely pivotal in passing on knowledge and keeping the craft and skills alive in the hope that one day it can be removed from the endangered craft list.” One of the students of the course shared that, “It was an excellent course and very well organised. Lynn the course tutor was great and very inspiring and we were very lucky with the weather. All in all, it was an enjoyable and worthwhile course and I learnt a great deal about flint walling.”

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Building Skills At Hatfield Park - Hatfield Park