Visits to Lime Plastering Course and Workshops at Coleshill
Report from the Master’s visit
Saturday, 11 October 2021
The Master, the Charity Steward and the Clerk were invited to attend a Lime Plastering Course run by Marianne Suhr, a Chartered Building Surveyor who specialises in restoring older buildings. The 2- day course/workshop was organised in collaboration with SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) and the NT (National Trust), led by expert tutors, including Sean Wheatley who will be known to members who watched on zoom his presentation on his restoration work at Sydenham House. Lime plastering is one of several conservation skill courses/workshops offered by this collaboration. The venue for these courses/workshops is outbuildings on the NT Buscot and Coleshill Estates in Wiltshire.
This particular workshop was aimed at trainee and experienced plasterers, with the purpose of providing a practical introduction to the use of traditional lime plaster and plastering techniques.
The Plaisterers’ Charitable Trust supported four places on the course through education bursaries. It hopes to continue with its support of this initiative when the courses/workshops return in the Spring next year. The workshops then will be extended to include a dedicated ornate plastering course.
Below left: Marianne Suhr. Below centre: Tutor Michal Wolf. Below right: With Durarant & Daughter
Testimonials received by the Master from those who benefited from our bursaries include the following:
Durrant & Daughter
“We are writing to thank you and The Worshipful Company of Plaisterers for sponsoring our bursary places on the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Lime Plastering Course at Coleshill.
The course has not only expanded our basic knowledge of lime plastering, it has introduced us to topics such as chalk plasters, different background boards and ornamental plastering. With Marianne leading the course, the information and research has been as up to date as it could possibly be.
Going forward for us, we intend to build our own practice walls so that we can practice the skills we have learnt on the course with the intention of being skilled enough to work on the conservation of period and historic buildings.”
“Thank you again so much for making my attendance on this course possible, and for coming to visit to see what it was all about! Thank you, too, to the Worshipful Company of Plaisterers. Please do pass on my thanks to the others in your team and to the wider Company. With very best wishes.”
Marianne is looking for experienced plasterers for her Spring 2022 courses, who want to broaden their skill-base in traditional plastering and hopefully branch into conservation work. Look out for more information in the Clerk’s Monthly Newsletter, or contact the Clerk now who will be able to send you details when he knows them. It would be good to support some of our own members, or their contacts on these courses and do something positive to help maintain our ancient craft.
The Master, the Charity Steward and the Clerk thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Coleshill and were impressed with the dedication and professionalism of Marianne Suhr and the tutors, Sean Wheatley, Michal Wolf and Michael O’Reilly and the enthusiasm of all the participants on the course.
Report by Daphne Spurling
Saturday, 18th September 2021
The Heritage Open Day in September gave me the opportunity to visit the new Heritage Skills Centre at the National Trust’s Coleshill Model Farm. The original house, designed by Inigo Jones and built in 1660s, was burnt and demolished in the 1950s. A secret potential resistance force of over 3,000 men was trained here during World War II ready to provide undercover resistance to a German invasion. The buildings of the model farm, which were constructed in 1854, are now being developed over the past three years as a Heritage Skills Centre. The Plaisterers Livery have made a grant to enable five plasterers to attend an Introduction to Lime Plastering course.
In the stable block, lathe panels leant against the walls ready for the students. Volunteer Rob Workman demonstrated to us the different constituents (quick lime, lime putty, hot mixing, sands and horsehair), their suitability different types of lime plasters for different uses, inside and out (such as lime putty and hot mix, respectively), and the technique of plastering such as the pressure needed to push the plaster through the lathes so the overhanging plaster when dry holds in place.
One panel illustrated the three stages of plastering: base of lathes on left; scratch coat (broad diagonal band) with deep scarifying to key in the next coat; float coat (top right) with shallow scarifications; and the top coat at the bottom.
One or two-day courses have 8 to 10 students per course and are designed not only to train plasterers or householders who wish to plaster their own home themselves but also to introduce those in the building trade, such architects and surveyors, to plastering. While I was there, a couple came in who had plastered their home. They had a long discussion with Rob about different techniques and types of plaster. Courses are run at three different levels from those who want to enter the industry and maybe will act as taster courses for those who want to move to the more advanced heritage plastering. The students will be able to gain professional development certification in conjunction with the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings.
It was an enjoyable visit and very interesting to learn more about lime plastering and see it in action.