Notable Scholars and Fellows

Past Scholars

Most of our Scholars go on to develop careers in conservation and look after some fantastic buildings. Many retain close links with the SPAB, returning to lecture and take part in events. Some even play a part in hiring the next generation of Scholars! SPAB Scholars have worked as architects, surveyors and engineers for English Heritage, the National Trust, and Historic Scotland, amongst others. Six former Scholars work for the SPAB and many more sit on various committees. They write technical pamphlets and contribute to casework, represent SPAB on diocesan committees, at public inquiries, and more.

Sir Donald Insall (Scholar in  1950): First of the post-war Scholars, he set up his own practice with two of his co-Scholars – Peter and Janet Locke. Donald was the first Scholar to be knighted for his work. His practice famously oversaw the restoration of the State Rooms and the Waterloo Chamber at Windsor Castle, after the fire.

Peter Bird (Scholar in 1970): Peter was the architect (Surveyor of the Fabric) for the cathedrals of Winchester, Wells, Exeter and St David’s before he sadly died in December 2010.

Andrew Townsend (Scholar in 1985): Andrew is the consultant architect at Tewkesbury Abbey.

Nick Cox (Scholar in 1985): Architect at Blenheim Palace, Haddon Hall and advisor at Woburn Abbey, Nick also is a member of the SPAB Executive Committee.

Martin Ashley (Scholar in 1976): Recently awarded an MVO for services to conservation for his work on the Royal Household properties.

Niall Phillips (Scholar in 1976): Niall and his co-Scholar Paul Simons established the Vivat Trust. He also has his own practice, Purcell Miller Tritton in Bristol.

Sarah Robinson (Scholar in 1991): The Director of Conservation at the Churches Conservation Trust.

Ptolemy Dean (Scholar in 1993): The star of the BBC’s Restoration series, Ptolemy also has his own architectural practice.

Marianne Suhr (Scholar in 1995): Co-star of the BBC’s Restoration series, Marianne also writes regularly for the SPAB and national publications. Co-author of Old House Handbook and Old House Eco Handbook, both available from the SPAB’s online bookshop.

Sara Crofts (Scholar in 2003): The SPAB’s head of casework and deputy director. Sara spearheaded the unique Faith in Maintenance project that provided training and guidance for volunteers working with historic places of worship. Sara is now the head of historic environment at the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Nichola Tasker (Scholar 1998): The Head of Building Conservation for Historic Royal Palaces between 2004-6 working on projects at Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, the Banqueting House Whitehall and Kensington Palace. Nichola is currently the Head of National Projects for English Heritage.

Past Fellows

Since 1987 the Fellows program has nurtured craftsmen of all varieties. The Fellowship has welcomed 39 stone masons, 18 carpenters, 6 carvers, 6 conservators, 5 plasterers, 4 brick layers, 2 leadworkers, 1 blacksmith, 1 sign writer, 1 flint knapper, 1 thatcher, 1 roofer, 1 glazier, 1 millwright and 1 letter cutter. All the Fellows return to their trade with new vigour and skills; some have gone on to work for English Heritage, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and CADW. A number have worked on the cathedrals at York Minster, Canterbury, Lincoln, Glasgow, Exeter, Salisbury and St Paul’s.

Steven Laing (Fellow in 1999) After working for Historic Scotland at Elgin Cathedral as a stone mason, Steven went on to establish Laing Traditional Masonry Ltd in 1999. He now employs a team of masons including four SPAB Fellows working on significant Scottish buildings and cathedrals.

Ben Newman (Fellow in 2001): Ben joined Stonewest, a leading building restoration, conservation and stonemasonry company, in 2003 as a foreman. Ben worked on such notable projects as the St Pancras Chambers (Rod Shelton architects), St Martin in the Fields (Eric Parry architects) and the St Pancras South Wall. In 2009 he was highly commended for The Duke of Gloucester’s Award for Project Craftsman of the Year.

Andy Chamberlain (Fellow in 1992): Andy is now a masonry manager overseeing a team of masons. The buildings he has worked on include Stowe House and Temples, Wentworth Castle, Stoneleigh Abbey and the cathedrals at Lichfield, Chester and Coventry

Ray Stevens (Fellow in 1987): Ray Stevens served his apprenticeship and joined the Fellowship programme whilst in the Salisbury Cathedral works department. He now works at the National Trust as their conservation joiner. He won the Marsh Heritage award for his work on the Canons Ashby Gates (Green Court) in 2008.

Richard Jordan (Fellow in 1999): Richard Jordan is a master roofer and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Tylers & Bricklayers. He has worked on buildings such as the Tower of London, Chequers, Coventry Cathedral and Warwick Castle. He has won awards from the National Federation of Roofing Contractors in 2007, 2008, 2013 & 2015 along with other awards with Chartered Institute of Building and the East Midlands Centre for constructing the Built Environment.

Tom Flemons (Fellow in 1992): Tom Flemons has been involved with the SPAB’s Education Committee and subsequently Chaired the Education and Training Advice Committee, becoming the first Fellow to do so. Since completing the Fellowship he has gone on from a role as a mason and conservator to a position running the Somerset workshop of leading company Cliveden Conservation. He was one of the founding committee of the William Morris Craft Fellowship Trust.


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