Medieval magic on display at skills fest

Jonny Rayfield, who qualified as a stonemason in 2012 after a three-year apprenticeship, with AF Jones owner Angus Jones

Jonny Rayfield, who qualified as a stonemason in 2012 after a three-year apprenticeship, with AF Jones owner Angus Jones

First published in News

MEDIEVAL skills used to build a 12th century Oxfordshire abbey are to go on display.

Dorchester Abbey is set to host its Traditional Skills in Action event over the Bank Holiday weekend.

More than 3,000 people are expected to visit the medieval church to learn about the skills used to construct it.

Organiser and former abbey education officer, Sue Dixon, who lives in Dorchester, said: “I think it increases people’s understanding of a beautiful piece of work.

“It helps them appreciate the finished article much more.

“I love the event because all the craftspeople who come are absolutely passionate about what they do and their enthusiasm is so obvious when we talk to them.

“I just love the opportunity to show the abbey off because it’s a beautiful building.”

This will be the third time the event has been held, with previous Traditional Skills in Action events in 2008 and 2010.

Mrs Dixon and fellow Dorchester resident Helen Russell have spent the past year preparing for the three-day event.

People representing thirteen different crafting professions will join the free event. Demonstrations will include presentations from a woodcarver, stained glass artist, blacksmith, embroiderer and stonemasons.

Other craftspeople taking part include a pole lathe turner, coracle maker, weavers, spinners, dyers, calligrapher, illuminator, basket maker and beekeepers.

Herald Series:

The interior of the Abbey 

Visitors will also get the chance to try the various crafts themselves.

Stonemason Angus Jones, owner of Ipsden’s AF Jones Stonemasons, will be taking part.

His great-grandfather Arthur founded the family company in Reading in 1858.

Mr Jones, 48, said new machine tools and robots had cut the time the job took.

He said: “The skills are the same essentially. It’s just the time to achieve the end result that has changed.”

The event runs from noon to 6pm next Saturday and Sunday.

On Bank Holiday Monday, the abbey will open between 10am and 4pm.

For more information, visit dorchester-abbey.org.uk

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