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Largest ever donation to English Heritage will fund apprenticeship programme

Houghton House is among the properties set to benefit from the new skills

The new scheme is hoped to save the skill of flint working from extinction by training a new generation of specialists

English Heritage will fund a newly announced apprenticeship programme with a £11m donation from the Hamish Ogston Foundation, the largest received in its history.

The new programme, announced today, is hoped to preserve the skill of flint-working by passing the trade down to a younger generation.

The skill is listed as endangered on the Heritage Crafts Red List, which tracks the heritage craft skills most in danger of dying out.

It will develop apprenticeships in flint and stone masonry and heritage brickwork as part of a seven year programme, offered to 48 young heritage skills apprentices along with 3 professional apprentices.

The programme will see the establishment of a new heritage skills training centre in East Anglia and the creation of an inhouse ‘heritage crafts team’ at English Heritage.

The centre will work to raise the profile of heritage skills as a career choice by welcoming local primary and secondary school children through school visits and onsite Conservation in Action activities. It will also provide hands-on training sessions to 450 Further Education construction students to broaden their understanding of heritage conservation techniques.

English Heritage said a third of its historic buildings contain flint, but only a handful of skilled flint-workers remain.The skills created are hoped to safeguard the future of 34 flint castles and abbeys in the East of England.

East Anglia has some of the most significant conservation needs as well as the most severe shortage of heritage craft skills in the country, it said.

Gerard Lemos CMG, Chair of English Heritage, said: “This investment is not just in the past – through saving English Heritage sites as well as homes and churches across the region – but in the future, by providing fulfilling careers for this, and subsequent generations.”

English Heritage properties set to benefit:

Beds, Cambs, Essex, Herts: Houghton House, Denny Abbey, Audley End House, Hadleigh Castle, St Botolph’s Priory, St John’s Abbeygate, Waltham Abbey Gatehouse, Roman Wall St Albans, Old Gorehambry House
Norfolk: Binham Priory, Blakeney Guildhall, Burgh Castle Roman Fort, Caister Roman Fort, Castle Acre Bailey Gate, Castle Acre Castle, Castle Acre Priory, Castle Rising Castle and Norman Church, Creake Abbey, Greyfriars Cloisters, St Olaves Priory, Row III House, Thetford Priory and Gatehouse, Thetford Church of Holy Sepulchre, Thetford Warren Lodge,  Weeting Castle
Suffolk: Bury St Edmunds Abbey Church Ruins and Abbey Gate, Bury St Edmunds Norman Tower, Framlingham Castle, Leiston Abbey, Moulton Packhorse Bridge

The grant is is part of a wider £29 million investment into heritage skills training in the UK and the Commonwealth which the Hamish Ogston Foundation is announcing today. The new funding will also support heritage skills training programmes in partnership with the Commonwealth Heritage Forum, Cathedrals’ Workshop Fellowship and Historic Environment Scotland.