Starting the Scholarship

15th Mar, 2019

Starting the SPAB Scholarship, 18th March 2019

As I embark on my 9 month conservation adventure across the UK, it felt appropriate to reflect on the reasons I chose to apply for the SPAB Lethaby Scholarship.

My passion for historic buildings and places has developed from my first undergraduate placement at Harrison Brookes Architects, through postgraduate study and now in my current role at Caroe Architecture. It was at Harrison Brookes that I was first introduced to the SPAB and the Scholarship (at the age of 19), by my then employer Rebecca Harrison who is a past-Scholar; I would say she and her partner Rhys Brookes were the initial ‘spark’ of inspiration. From then on, I have pursued conservation projects throughout University and further work placements, developing my understanding of the SPAB philosophy as I studied.

I volunteered for SPAB at their HQ in Spital Square in 2014, which cemented my affinity for the SPAB ethos and further informed me about the Scholarship. Everyone I met during this volunteer period (and ongoing associations with the SPAB) have built on my passion to undertake the Scholarship; in particular, meeting several Scholars over the years has strengthened my determination to apply. My most recent employers - Caroe Architecture - were similarly supportive and encouraged me to apply. Being committed to continually learning and improving, I have long aspired to be a SPAB Scholar and see this opportunity as a critical part of my architectural education.

I have a great interest in the story of historic places, enthusiasm to learn traditional crafts, and eagerness to understand how to appropriately care for historic fabric. I have previously undertaken long-term study trips in Costa Rica (where I organised and led a three-month construction project) and Italy. I am a tutor for the ‘Culture of the City’ Italian summer school. This builds on post-earthquake heritage reconstruction themes developed during my Masters at the University of Cambridge, for which I was jointly awarded the SPAB Philip Webb Award in 2016.

Whilst working at Caroe Architecture, I qualified as an Architect; since then, I have been itching for more practical, hands-on opportunities within the field I am passionate about, and to work more closely with specialist and traditional craftsmen across a wider range of building types. I am always eager to learn new skills, to understand things in different ways, and to creatively and critically engage with subjects and people I encounter.

Working in practice, I started to amass good experience in the care and conversion of historic buildings by working on significant buildings in the UK and abroad, including building conservation programmes in New Zealand and in Italy. These projects have included New College Oxford Song School, The Geffrye Museum, St Marylebone Parish Church and St Paul’s Cathedral, London. I play a vital role in project teams, both as acting project architect and also supporting others in the preparation of information at all work-stages.

Related to my passion for old buildings, I like to undertake a variety of activities which lead to new experiences, in new places and with new people. I love to travel, and keep sketchbooks and this online blog, and enjoy a variety of crafts in my spare time.

All of these passions, interests and skills led me to apply at the end of last year, and I am delighted to finally be starting!

beth blacksmith.JPG

Hands-on working during the first two weeks of the Scholarship - blacksmithing with Hall Conservation.

COVER_lace cottages whole group.jpg

Meeting new people, making connections, and engaging in fun, technical and philosophical discussions - photo of all 2019 Scholars and Fellows on site at Lace Cottages, with Dale and Tim (hosts).

petwoth.jpg

In my spare time, I visit new places - even at the weekends during the Scholarship! This is Grinling Gibbons' decorative woodwork at Petworth House, Sussex.