Jennifer Jordan (28) and Samuel Matthews (27) joined the Cathedral as apprentice stonemasons in September 2008. Through hard work and dedication, they have gained the invaluable knowledge, training, and experience to become talented masons.
Our apprentices learn about modern, mechanised methods of masonry; but they all start their training by working stone in a traditional manner, using hand tools. This gives them a far greater understanding of their craft and an appreciation of the effort and skill used by medieval Cathedral builders. Throughout their learning journey, they have contributed to the restoration of the fabric of the Cathedral and worked on several large projects.
I think one of my proudest achievements gained in my apprenticeship was my involvement in the setting out of the South East Transept Stair Turret. I enjoyed the responsibility and sense of achievement. I thoroughly enjoyed my apprenticeship. It’s been brilliant to learn with such a talented team of individuals and to have the privilege of working at the Cathedral.
My highlight has to be the setting out of the Huguenot Chapel Window. I project managed the work from start to finish; and the end result was a job well done and an enormous sense of pride. I think apprenticeships are a great idea. I wouldn’t be here without one and this is a fantastic community to learn in.
Throughout his study, Sam has received a series of awards: ‘The Worshipful Company of Masons’ prize for Outstanding Effort’; the ‘Sir Bannister Fletcher Prize for the College Student of the Year’; a silver medal in the national ‘Skillbuild’ competition, and a City & Guilds Gold Medal of Excellence. Jen and Sam are shining examples of the apprenticeship scheme, and we are proud of their achievements and privileged that they are now part of the working team.
Canterbury is one of eight English cathedrals to have joined forces to form the Cathedral Workshops’ Fellowship. This aims to promote quality and depth in craft training and thereby establish those cathedrals as Centres of Excellence. Our apprentices now train for a minimum of four years. During this time they will concentrate principally on acquiring their craft skill but this will be underpinned by more general knowledge that they also need to become rounded craftspeople. Subjects covered in their academic training include: Architectural and Art History, Archaeology, Conservation (Philosophy and Practice), Basic and Advanced Geometry, Architectural and Decorative Carving, Stone Fixing, Geology, Structural Engineering and Project Management. At the end of this initial period of training, those who wish to do so will have the opportunity to achieve further academic qualifications. The Cathedral Workshops’ Fellowship’s aim was to set up a four year syllabus for Apprenticeships which was common to all workshops and would result in a qualification. The programme was set up with the help of NEXUS and in partnership with the University of Gloucester.
We currently have 12 apprentices at the Cathedral, and not just for masonry. We are keen to promote traditional crafts and trades, for we realise that there is a growing shortage of skilled craftsmen and craftswomen with practical experience. With this in mind, we aim to give young people opportunities to gain training and experience in a variety of roles: stone masonry, plumbing, gardening, electrical work, scaffolding, cooking, administration, retail and carpentry. The apprentices have day release to attend college, and thus have training in both the theory and practice of their chosen subject, which will lead to a recognised qualification. Experienced staff act as mentors, responding to the needs of the apprentices, developing their confidence and skills, providing encouragement, and helping them take responsibility for themselves and their own development.
The Cathedral’s 12 apprentices are all in various years and stages of their training. By the end of the apprenticeship, they will have invaluable knowledge, training, and experience to enrol to a higher level course or start a career in their chosen discipline. If our current apprentices follow in the line of some of their predecessors, they can be sure of a bright future.
The Cathedral has been training apprentices since 2003. New apprenticeship positions are usually advertised on our website and through the local media in February.