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Heritage building sites as a place for learning

As Sector Skills Manager at Historic England, Sophie has been heavily involved in the developing the Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Building Skills Programme. In some ways, the programme builds on Sophie’s experience delivering heritage skills initiatives while based in the Centre for Conservation Studies at the University of York. Much of this work, which was generously supported by the York Consortium in 2012, formed the basis for a PhD research project Heritage Conservation and the Building Crafts: a qualitative study of Yorkshire craftspeople.

This talk will introduce the mixed qualitative and archival methods that Sophie used in her research, showing how comparison and triangulation of the findings demonstrated how decision-making about conservation changed during the 20th century. Sophie found that the conservation management planning process’s emphasis on understanding places before their conservation begins excluded craftspeople from the debate about significance, in a way that was incompatible with value-based decision-making. As a solution, Sophie’s thesis suggests that conservation should make space for interdisciplinary on-site educational opportunities, where the different stakeholders of conservation can learn the value of each other’s expertise and craftspeople can regain a more central role in conservation.

The educational opportunities advocated in the research will be developed as part of the Hamish Ogston Foundation Heritage Buildings Skills Programme. The Foundation’s exceptionally generous gift will allow Historic England to develop training opportunities at two Heritage at Risk sites in the North of England over the next five years. Sophie will talk about the Programme in more depth at a follow up webinar on Tuesday 27th April.

About the Speaker

Dr Sophie NortonSophie Norton developed a professional interest in the longstanding decline of skills for historic building conservation while working at the University of York. As Hamlyn Feilden Fellow and Heritage Skills Co-ordinator in the Archaeology Department, Sophie supported teaching in the Centre for Conservation Studies while developing initiatives to address heritage skills challenges in the Yorkshire region. This included working with the York Consortium on a project that brought together several traditional estates in North Yorkshire to train a small cohort of building craft apprentices. Sophie’s interactions from working with craftspeople in Yorkshire formed the basis for her PhD Heritage Conservation and the building Crafts: a qualitative study of Yorkshire craftspeople, which this talk is based on.


23 March 2021


7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Online (Zoom)

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