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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Celebrating the Makers!

It is easy to miss the wonderful external doors of Norwich City Hall. However, if you take a little time to look closely at them they reveal a wonderful series of scenes inspired by Norwich's artisan history. This celebration of the makers of things includes the depiction, above, of stonemasons building Norwich Castle (complete with windlass), as well as a representation of their work on the city hall itself, below. 

Clearly, the interwar civic authorities who commissioned these works felt a real sense of pride in the artisan and craft traditions of their city. We are proud to be contributing and enriching this through our work. 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Carving Out A Future!

Lots of really positive developments for us over the last couple of weeks. Among other things, we are grateful for the generous offers of support of several talented individuals who wish to assist our apprentices on their journey. Exciting times!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Watch Our Garden Grow

This Tuesday we look forward ti welcoming Stephen, our new volunteer gardener, to join our team. 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

St Benet's Abbey: an outsider's perspective

The Eureka Wellbeing Photography group have an exhibition in our St Clement's lodge, featuring photographs of St Benet's Abbey on the Norfolk Broads. 

These were taken as part of a partnership project between Eureka and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust. The theme of the exhibition is, 'An Outsiders' Perspective'. Eureka is a city-based group whose members have often had challenges to overcome. In that sense they bring an 'outsiders' perspective to the ruined abbey site. . 

The photographs feature lots of flint amd masonry; apt subject matter for a working stonemasons' lodge! We thank the Eureka members for agreeing to let us host this and  encourage you to come and see these great images for yourself. 

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Storytelling Fundraiser - Friday July 3rd

On Friday 3rd July we are welcoming professional storyteller, Dave Tonge, to come to St Clement's to regale our supporters with an evening of medieval tales (click on poster above for details). The money we raise from this event will help us to support the apprentices on their journey. 

Visions in Stone - Norwich Cathedral

We are delighted to have been invited by the Dean of Norwich to her garden party today. It is a wonderful setting and, as you can see, the views are fabulous!

Transitory Lives in Marble

The Suckling family memorial transit tombs in St Andrews Church, Norwich. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015


Here's a view from our lodge at St Clement's Church. Sometimes it's good to just stand and stare

Friday, 12 June 2015

Carving Tracery

One of our apprentices' current projects is to carve some window tracery which we plan to put on display outside the lodge. As with any learning journey our apprentices have had their highs and their lows. 

The point is, to keep on going and aspire to perfection. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

A Learned Perspective

In this piece, one of our apprentices reflects on her evolving appreciation of Norwich Cathedral (pictured above, as seen from the tower of our lodge at St Clement's Church)...

On a recent visit to the Norwich Cathedral a change in my perspective became apparent to me. As a stonemason apprentice my attitude towards all stones (be they finished master pieces or freshly quarried blocks) has evolved to be more appreciative and quizzical.

As apprentices we learn to be more alert to details in the stones of buildings we encounter on our day-to-day lives. With every new lesson from the Master, we are given the tools to recognize and name the separate elements of a stonemasons' work. That change in perspective had to be learned, since focusing on the "artistic" carved centre pieces and neglecting less noticeable - but vital -details such as flat surfaces and neat joints, was not enough to create master craftspeople. Each visit to the Norwich Cathedral uncovered new details in the stone that previously lay hidden in plain sight.

Sketches became less about the decorative details and more about molds and geometry. The questions I asked were less about the intricacy of a gargoyles' face and more about the techniques the stonemasons used to achieve such effective details. How did the stonemason manage to make joints so neat? How did the stone mason achieve such effortless perfection? What techniques were used to make details so effective?

With each lesson and each day under the Master's care, we learn to appreciate the precision and patience that are required to create the interior of the Cathedral. There are many years of learning ahead of us and I am certain that each visit to the Cathedral will uncover even more details as we grow and widen our horizons.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Our Gate is Open!

The Master is back and our gate is open once again from today. If you're passing please come and look in on us and say hello. If distance denies you that option, here are some photos of our St Clement's lodge to whet your appetite, whether you are returning or visiting us for the first time.

Monday, 8 June 2015


It isn't just our apprentices who are blossoming. The churchyard is looking lovely today with a sprinkle of daisies and lots of lush green. 

All ready for our Master Mason's return tomorrow, when our gates will reopen to the public and the air will resound with sounds of chisels striking stone. 

A Master Mason's Travels - Ampney St Mary

Whilst visiting one of the quarries at Barnsley Park I went through Ampney St Mary, in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. St Mary's church at Ampney St Mary consists of a Norman nave joined to a 13th century chancel by way of a stone screen, a 14th century bellcote and a rebuilt south porch of similar age.

St Mary's church is located about two miles from the centre of Ampney St Mary village as the entire village was evacuated at the time of the Death around 1350 and most villagers resettled on higher ground over a mile away to the north east. 

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Beautiful Light

The late afternoon sunshine cast a beautiful light upon the centre aisle floor of our lodge in St Clement's Church. Beautiful!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Master Mason: In Search of Stone

View from Heartbreak quarry with the Black mountains in the distance

Knapp House quarry, Birdlip face.

Birdlip quarry

After a day in Oxfordshire yesterday I came away no closer to having found the stone I was looking for. However, I do have more geological samples for the guild's collection. I have one last chance on this visit in a group of quarries I have already scouted recently around the Gloucester/Stroud area called Scots Quarr, Catbrain,  Birdlip and Heartbreak.
Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A Master Mason at Work!

Over the last few days I have been attempting to source stone for a project I have coming up. 
This has taken me to 23 medieval churches throughout Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and 8 disused limestone quarries in the hills above Bath and also around Barnsley Park in Gloucestershire. 
So far I have been unsuccessful in tracking down the exact stone I require which was last quarried commercially in the 16th century but have ruled out the sources suggested in contemporary evidence.
Tomorrow my search will take me towards Oxfordshire and also the ochre pits near Bristol.
I can feel your pity but I shouldn't worry about me too much as like most stonemasons I know the best Chuck wagons, cafes and tea rooms and feel it my duty to check for continued quality. I must confess I've already visited Sally Lunn's and several others. 
It's a hard life!

Bath - city of stone

Here are some photographs of Georgian Bath, in the west of England - a city of stone...

Royal Crescent 1774

The Circus completed 1768

Bath Abbey showing angels climbing Jacobs ladder

Putney bridge 1770