1000 Years of Traditional Crafts – An Unprecedented Success


This year’s 1000 Years of Traditional Crafts Festival staged in the grounds of Lincoln Castle proved to be a tremendous success. Compared to the launch event in 2011, which was a smash hit with 1,700 visitors, this year’s festival saw the event flourish to approximately 4,000 visitors!

Jessica Marshall, Senior Project Assistant and Event Organiser for Lincolnshire County Council expanded “We are really happy with the success of the 2012 1000 Years event, feedback from both the demonstrators and members of the public has been brilliant with many comments about how interesting and interactive the event was. Children particularly seemed to enjoy all the activities that were provided for them to try. I’m already looking forward to future 1000 Years events!” Staged over the weekend of 29th and 30th September 2012, outside the Castle walls, there were Tastes of Lincolnshire food stalls and food demonstrations whilst inside the Castle walls, there was plenty to reveal. This year’s event provided the general public with the first chance to visit the city’s new Heritage Skills Centre. The £1.5 million centre, the first new building inside the castle for over 100 years, will provide training workshops for recruits to learn traditional crafts such as stone masonry and lead work, as well as being a new visitor attraction for Lincoln Castle and Lincoln.

The Centre, built by Robert Woodhead Ltd, was officially handed over on Thursday 4 October 2012, whilst the formal opening of the Heritage Skills Centre will take place on Friday 8 February 2013.

The festival was organised by Lincolnshire County Council whilst Robert Woodhead supported the event in a variety of ways. They provided stone and lead work demonstrations, films showing how the Heritage Skills Centre itself was built, as well as complimentary cupcakes! The demonstrations proved particularly interesting to architects, local stonemasons and other trades people, as well as the general public.

Not for the faint hearted, Robert Woodhead also took 40 members of the general public on a guided tour of the castle walls. Currently being conserved by Robert Woodhead’s specialist Heritage division Woodhead Heritage the brave souls were taken up scaffolding by Head Mason on the Castle Walls project, Heath Shakespeare and Heritage Manager Simon Butler, to see just what is involved in the restoration of the ancient Castle Walls.  Woodhead Heritage’s Conservation Manager Simon Butler said, “Events like this are so important to highlight the need to retain traditional skills and conservation practises to preserve the past for future generations.”

There were numerous enquiries about the types of courses available at the Heritage Skills Centre. The Centre Manager, Claire Butler commented, “I was really enthused by the level of interest from such a wide range of ages.  Having seen the working displays of craftspeople in the castle grounds, visitors were keen to know the list of courses available and when and how to enrol.  Main areas of interest were stone masonry, stained glass and lead work.  There were also numerous requests from owners of period houses wanting to learn restoration skills and traditional upholstery for the hobbyists. Everyone loved the building, and wanted to know more about the design and sustainable materials used. The younger visitors definitely enjoyed the two mounds to the front.’’    If you would like further information on courses available please follow us on facebook.com/HeritageSkillsCentreLincoln or twitter.com/HSCClaire or contact me at HeritageSkillsCentre@lincolnshire.gov.uk

Mary Powell, Tourism Development Manager, Lincolnshire County Council confirmed, “The restoration of the Castle walls is part of the overall Lincoln Castle Revealed project. The aim is for regular Castle Wall Walks once the work is completed.”

For more information on Heritage Skills Centre please see Robert Woodhead’s four films as well as our case study, A New Chapter Written in the History of Lincoln Castle.