Making their journey possible...

Gildencraft Stone Masonry C.I.C.: quality products made under the guidance of Master Masons, backed up by over 900 years of excellence and tradition.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

An Apprentice's Fee: beer, bread and 33p

Nothing but the best for our apprentices!

Corpus Christi Day is the traditional date when classical guilds like us hold their Call to the Guild ceremony. The Call is where we admit new members into the Guild, including apprentices. As the Clerk of the Guild, whose Office is responsible for the guild's finances it genuinely pains me that my predecessors never index linked this. Thus, the 'fee' that our apprentices are obliged to pay us consists of:

  • A bottle of beer
  • A loaf of bread
  • Thirty three pennies
It is the equivalent, then, of a 'peppercorn' rent, having been fixed some time back in the medieval period. 

Apprentices at last year's Call with beer and loaves
Last year, the wonderful Pump Street Bakery in Orford was kind enough to support our apprentices by providing the loaves you can see pictured, above. However, much as we appreciate this generosity, this year, as a Guild with our national base in the city of Norwich, we looked closer to home for support. It was very important to us that the bakery and brewery we approached embodied the excellence and values of hand-made craft that we represent. 

Accordingly, it was to the Fat Cat Tap Brewery we turned, to provide us with the bottles of beer. Not only did they donate seven bottles of their limited edition Anniversary Ale, they have also provided additional refreshment for the apprentices to whet their whistles during the celebrations that will follow their Call. 

When it came to the bread, our first choice was the Bread Source Bakery. As their name implies, Bread Source own their own mill (located in Horsham St Faith, Norfolk), which enables them to control the quality of each stage of production in order to produce bread of the very highest quality. We are very grateful to receive the donation of artisan loaves, which, I would add, will be a great accompaniment to the Anniversary Ale. 

The work of a Guild Master
This reminds me of the way in which our Guild Master will source the finest marble, in person, from the quarry in Carrara, Italy; have it shipped to his workshop, where he transforms it into things of beauty. If the yeast is the magic ingredient for the baker and brewer, then ours is the accumulated knowledge and human culture transmitted through a continuous line of Court Masters. It is this that allows the work to truly rise above the rest. 

Thanks to Bread Source Bakery and the Fat Cat Tap Brewery for enriching our day with your generosity!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Master Stephen's Journey

An Ancient Living Tradition!

As part of Norwich's Makers' Month 2018 celebration of Crafts, the Guild of St Stephen & St George have an event where English and German craftsmen talk about their travels as Journeymen, and about this fascinating tradition. The event will take place in the Auditorium of the Forum in Norwich on Friday 6th April, 18:00-19:30. Tickets cost £12.50 and are available via Eventbrite:

Wanderers' Journey Tickets

Here are some short recordings of our Master Mason, Master Stephen, talking about his own Journey as a young man:

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Guild Friend's Visit - Norfolk Heritage Collection

All photographs taken by © Lindsey Almkvist, 2018.
Click on images in order to enlarge them.
The Guild are always looking for ways to thank those who actively support us. Today, to thank the Friends of the Guild for their contribution, we organised a tour of the fabulous Norfolk Heritage Collection led by archivist, Chris Tracey, pictured above holding the Ortus Sanitatus (a 15thC German 'Herbal', printed in Mainz, Germany). 

Image of a Mandrake in the Ortus
Among the many fascinating and exquisite things we saw today, was the early 15thC hand-illuminated 'Boleyn Bible', once owned by the Boleyn family at Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Here is a detail from the first page...

As you can see, the preservation is truly remarkable. It felt like a real privilege to be so up close to such a remarkable medieval treasure as this! 

Similarly, everyone expressed a sense of wonder to peer inside the 'Norwich Apocalypse' (pictured below), the oldest book in the collection, dating from the 13thC. 

Here is the Clerk of the Guild holding a volume of Blomefield's 'History of Norfolk', explaining that how it had been 'Grangerised' i.e. extended in length with the addition of a wealth of engravings and supplemental material. 

I have focused on books here, but the Collection contains so much more: maps, postcards, engravings, handbills, newspapers, wartime aerial photographs, historic photographs - and much more of interest. One could spend a lifetime exploring this wonderful resource!

Events like this throughout the year are just one reason why becoming a Friend of the Guild is a rewarding investment. We hope you also gain pleasure from knowing that your contribution is helping young people to help themselves, as the apprentices progress through their seven-year apprenticeships and beyond. Become part of this 'line through time'...

Yearly membership costs £36.00 - email for details. 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

The Beautiful Galatea Opera - Stone on Stage

#opera #orchestralmusic #classicalmusic The stonemasons' Guild of St Stephen & St George is working with the Imperial Vienna Orchestra to bring stone to the stage in these performances of the operetta, 'The Beautiful Galatea', in Wymondham in April. I hope to see our supporters in the audience! (click on poster to see full details)

To purchase tickets...
Please click on the following link:

Performances will take place at Wymondham Central Hall. Here is a link to their website - WCH

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Gloucester Cathedral

A Master Masons travels - St. Mary the virgin church, Bibury

Norman doorway dating to 1180

Saxon gravestone built into the body of the church. Two similar stones were found in the church yard and are now in the British museum.

A very simple form of sun dial, usually in a circular shape. Scratch dials were scratched or carved into the exterior church wall and used to tell the time, especially the time of church services. In an age when clocks were unknown or exceptionally rare, such primitive sundials may have been essential as a way to determine the correct time for services. At the centre of the dial is a hole where a small peg was inserted to act as a simple sundial marker. They might have had only three or four radiating sections, rather than a full 360 degree of lines, as it was only necessary to tell the time of services, so extra lines were unnecessary.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Give a Gift for Christmas - Discounted Carving Workshops

Carve Your Heart Out! Workshops - Christmas Offer £75 per day!

Christmas is nearly here and if you've been head-scratching as to what to buy someone special in your life, why not purchase one of our carving workshops. Yes, they'll produce a piece of carving to take away, but they are also getting a unique experience... 

It isn't every day that you get the opportunity to carve under the guidance of a world class craftsman within a working stonemason's lodge. We are reducing our usual price of £80 per person to just £75.00 for a full day for bookings before Christmas 2017, with the assistance of our Master Mason - one of only twelve international Guild Masters in the world - you can produce something like the piece, pictured above, to take away.

* Our workshops take place on a mutually arranged date at weekends.

* We encourage participants to start at 9am in order to get a full day, finishing by 4:00pm at the latest. However, if you need more time to complete it you are welcome to come back on another day at no extra cost to complete it.

* The finished piece belongs to the carver and can be taken home (stone and tools are included in the price). 

* The typical thing most people carve is a ball flower (see image, above).

Do note that the voucher (see example, below) is valid a year from purchase, so if you would prefer to wait until, say, late spring/summer that is fine by us. 

Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you wish to have any further information via HERE


Payment can be made by any of the following means: 

i) Bank transfer to:

'Gildencraft Stone Masonry'
Sort code: 16-26-30
Acc number: 11130667

ii) Paypal payment to:

Gildencraft Workshop payment

iii) Cheque made payable to:
'Gildencraft Stone Masonry'

Postal address:
Clerk's Office
The Stonemason's Lodge
St Clement's Church

Our latest customer feedback:
"When I woke up after what was the coldest night of the year so far, I doubted my sanity in booking myself onto a course in a church in the middle of January.  And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't cold.  But the experience of working with the stone and being taught by the master simply blotted the temperature out.

I started out working on straight lines on a stone and was so consumed by it that I had no idea of the time passing.  The real apprentices stopped by and shared their experiences.  And the information the master imparted throughout the day was simply fascinating. Stone masonry is linked to all aspects of life.  And the master's tales are many and varied.

After an hot coffee and break in the King of Hearts I continued with my straight lines.  This may sound boring but believe you me, it was anything but.  I carved straight line after straight line and I could see the improvement as the lines progressed.  And that's what makes the difference.  Ok I may not have the skill of the apprentices nor indeed the master but I left St Clements church with a greater degree of proficiency than when I arrived.

During lunch I took the opportunity to have a good look around St Clements and all it holds.  The displays are comprehensive and include stones, tools and drawings but that short list doesn't do justice to the work that has gone into them.  I encourage everyone to visit the church and chat with the folks you'll meet.

In the afternoon the master helped me to branch out into curves and by the time it was getting dark I had completed my first capital letter O.  I couldn't be more proud.  Although the present I got was for a day at St Clements the day isn't over until you complete your 'piece'.  And I've just booked my next stab at it.  I'm 58 so a 7 year apprenticeship isn't really practical for me.  But oh how I envy them who work with the master regularly as they progress towards their master pieces.  And in my own way, I'm delighted I got out of bed on that cold morning in January.

Thanks are  due to all who made it possible."