About the Course
'Hands-on' practical participation in learning about DSW techniques including; Foundations, Cheek Ends, Tie Stones, Jumpers, Fingers, Shims, Through Stones, Lintels and Top Stones.
(One over two, two over one !!)
These one day workshops are a 'hands on' introduction or improvement for DIY and interested persons of all ages and abilities aged over 16yrs.
You will build a DSW and learn the heritage and craft overview and geological terms of the different material, the engineering terms and descripton of stones used. You will receive, and discuss, an overview into the construction of various wall features and finishes. You will learn fundamentals of building a retaining wall, raised flowerbeds, squeeze stiles, step stiles and Cheek End -- if time allows.
All instructor/trainers are experienced wallers and certificated by the Dry Stone Walling Association.
At the end of the day you will be able to safely and confidently set out and construct a dry stone wall or basic feature - understand DSW heritage and terminology used - distinguish various stone materials and their uses.
Note: Workshop bookings must be completed a minimum of 48hrs prior to the selected workshop date.
If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above or telephone us. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
Excellent free on-site parking, all materials, tools and equipment are provided along with personal protective equipment for example - gloves, goggles, kneeling pads, where required and first aid. Excellent welfare and personal facilites requirements. There is a great on-site cafe, recommended to bring your own lunch, protective rain wear and strong hardy footwear, preferably safety boots and wear old clothing you are not afraid to get dirty or marked.
On conclusion of the day, each participant is provided with a range of excellent informative handouts, brochures and a - well deserved 'Certificate of Achievement'.
Workshops at this venue are run on the first Saturday of the month throughout the year.
Note: The workshops do tend to become oversubscribed, to avoid disappointment it is suggested to book up through PayPal as early as possible.
Note - other dates by arrangements - for example:- Groups of 4 - 6 persons - during the week.
John is a lovely fellow, engaging, encouraging and very helpful. The course was informative, empowering and fun.
Clive Oakes - - #18938
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Clive - Thank you for your feedback. The day soon passed and great progress was made by the group. Your 'Cheek End' in particular, is a good example of how much time is required to achieve the desired result. The feature would work with the seating arrangement discussed. Your handling of the stone and getting your 'eye in' developed continuously during the day and was a positive input for the group. Take Care, Best Wishes John
I attended John Holt’s course at Mudchute. I was a part of a small group of 5 students of varying ages and abilities.
John took great pains to explain the building procedures in detail and extremely clearly. He was very patient and diplomatic and his years of experience in the craft shone through. Before we started building he made us deconstruct an existing wall and this was a brilliant introduction because we could easily understand the disciplines involved in a practical way.
By the end of the day we were patting ourselves on the back for the work of pure beauty and supreme excellence that we had managed to construct under his guidance and we all walked away considering ourselves to be true experts in the craft of dry stone walling.
A truly satisfying day.
Stephen Parr - - #18937
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Stephen, Thank you for your positive comments. I felt you and the group developed very well during the day which can be quite daunting and demanding. It does take time and what may have been perceived as 'slow work' the end result was achieved to a really good standard. There were many Q's and A's and feel you will now get used to using your own stone and be able to continue the Italian rebuild with confidence and vigour. Take Care and Best Wishes - John
It was a great day of learning a new skill. John was a great teacher. He introduced the day well, gave a good historical context to the skill of dry stone walling, went through the safety requirements and introduced the tools and techniques really well. We got the work in good time and had a great time. John shared his time well with the students and got us going quickly. Before any time at all we were cutting stones and laying them in place. The target of finishing the sheep creep in the day was a tough one but we got to it and worked hard led by the pace of John to achieve the goal. The outcome was good, the feedback honest and critical but very supportive and clear and I came away with the wonderful feeling of having learned some good skills that i can use in my life and of having a good positive day of work. Thank you John.. you are a fine chap!
Mark Hill - - #17893
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Mark - When i met the group, i thought it was going to be a 'tough call' completing the SC in the time. The weather was favourable, which enabled us to get going. Before long, i noticed, you were getting your 'eye in', 'juggling stone' hammer trimming and 'internal pinning'!! Building up the 'Cheek Ends', 'crossing joints', standing back and 'eying up' ! The group worked well together making good progress. Three hours disappeared and after lunch, i felt the team energy and excitement growing to completion. It is a great, permanant feature of engineering skill, and testiment to those determined to stick with it on their, 'day out' !!
Great hands-on experience of dry stonewalling - something completely different to anything I've tried before. Informal and friendly, John provided loads of insight and filled the day with interesting historical facts about the craft.
Haydn - - #17874
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Haydn - The DSW feature is really great and such fun placing the top stones to conclude the build ! There was much to consider during the day. Thank you for your feedback, i am pleased you enjoyed your time at Mudchute. Take Care and Best Wishes to you and Luca.
A great day of learning and activity delivered by a true artisan and gifted tutor. Not overloaded at the start with information, but enough to quickly begin the building process. Appropriate and helpful advice where/when necessary, with practical input when (inevitably) we were unable to make progress. John made it possible to acquire enough of the basic skills and understanding to feel satisfaction with what we achieved, whilst also appreciating the gulf between that and what long years of practise and experience produces! Terminology was introduced as and when to complement the different stages eg initial layout, battering, hearting etc, with an emphasis on using and developing a 'natural eye' rather than relying on measurements or technology.
Clear explanations of what constitutes a stable and aesthetically pleasing structure with the origins, benefits, variations, development and future of ds walling shared interestingly during the day. 100% recommend the experience.
Martin Hart - - #16626
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Martin - Thank you for your feedback, i am pleased you found the day interesting and rewarding. From a 'cold start' to completion, time soon goes with lots to consider 'juggling the stones' You developed the 'eye', your own style and constructing those 'Cheek Ends' are just something else !! The feature will look great in the location. I will add a small reference plaque, listing it's content and names of those who participated in the construction.
JH provided a good overview of what needed to done how to go about doing it. All the equipment and materials were provided. The majority of the day was taken up with actually building a wall, with JH on hand to oversee progress and offer suggestions / advise on work completed and improvements that could be made. The day was very relaxed whilst being focussed on getting the wall built and the end result looked pretty impressive.
Tony Ridley - - #15301
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Tony - Thank you for your feedback. It was a great active day building, despite the heat. Another requirment being a shade hat and suncream ! The wall was completed and looks a really well engineered feature. I hope you can use the experience for your own garden feature or other building works.
7 April 2018 - I attended John Holt's beautifully judged training day, a fun mixture of learning and anecdotes in an intriguing location in Southwark. Great to acquire new skills and make new friends, what's not to like?
Chris Millard - - #14622
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Chris - thank you for attending the workshop and your feed back. It is important to assess what we deliver on the day. There were lots going on and good to know you found the social aspect interesting too. You were able to build the wall developing your own technique and confidence during the day. Considering the geological substance, shapes and I am sure you found the handouts interesting. We discussed the various terms of walling, the different uses of stone, angles and Cheek Ends along with other terminology. Well done and hope you are able to make use of the knowledge you gained.
A great day for an introductions of Dry Stone Walling- stretchers, cheek ends, 2 over 1 and 1 over 2- all in a beautiful garden setting. Thanks John for sharing your knowledge and organizing such an enjoyable day!
Monty K - - #14226
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Thank you for your feedback Monty. I am pleased to hear you are developing one of the engineering principles !! It is good to share information to help learn something new. It was indeed a great social workshop as well, with participants exchanging views, opinions with interesting anecdotes.
Very useful, informative, and enjoyable day with an excellent teacher.
Sean Flynn - - #12752
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Sean, thank you for your feedback. More important remember e.g, time sorting, graduating sizes, shapes of stone, their uses, (curves, internal/external) position in walls. foundations, jumpers, throughs, stretchers, fingers, topping, slivers, fillings, binders, clear working space, building time required, Cheek Ends etc. Hope you have a productive time up north!!
I signed up for this course as a garden designer - enthusiasm to learn this craft for my design portfolio but with limited practical experience in hard landscaping. I have come away with understanding, knowledge, and hands-on experience in building stone walling from foundation to toppers. John was engaging and clear with instructions explaining historical design styles and practicalities of dry stone construction before we started and then pointing out important considerations, possible mistakes, or need for certain stone choice and placement as we proceeded. This really is a skill that can only be learned in the doing and John very skillfully instructed us when the time was right and then let us learn for ourselves as we built our walls throughout the day. With the growing height of the walls came confidence in our stone placement choices.
John finished the day with certificates and by asking us to reflect on gained knowledge - which I found really useful. I will never forget that the foundation of a wall should be half the wall height, and the top of the wall will be half the the width of the foundation. Thank you John!
Taryn Ferris - - #12267
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Thank you for your kind feed back Taryn. It was a pleasure to work with you. I do hope you are able to use the experience during your landscaping projects.
Great course and really learnt a lot! Looking forward to building some walls back in Australia!
Michael Campbell - - #11714
We had a fantastic day on our friend’s Hen Party.
John was a great teacher and coped fantastically well with our slightly unruly mob.
Well worth doing & left me interested in trying it again some time.
Giles Armstrong - - #11213
As the Mother of the 'hen' I was slightly daunted at the thought of dry stone walling at my advanced age but I shouldn't have worried! John's tuition and advice make the whole experience very rewarding, so much so that I think we might have a go in our Dorset garden after possibly another workshop. All this in great company in the shadow of the Shard, a fantastic location for a very special day which we will never forget. Thank you John for sharing your expertise.
Linda Jones - - #10396
I was part of a hen party workshop. I had expected to enjoy it but not as much as I did. John was a great teacher who put our very mixed group at ease with a laid back and witty style. It was a really enjoyable activity at the end of which we had 5 pretty good walls! The setting was lovely and we were really lucky with the weather. I would definitely recommend this workshop, thank you John!
Anne Krishnanandan - - #10393
The class was brilliant - John quickly put us at ease, explained what we had to do, and we got started with wall building straight away. We were provided with feedback and instruction on the go, and John's warm, friendly, humorous, and positive approach meant we were able to improve our skills in a short time. The venue is beautiful and we were lucky to have plenty of sunshine - this wasn't hard work at all, it was fun! Thank you!
Duncan Carmichael - - #10346
John helped me to arrange a DSW workshop for my friends Hen Party activity. Right from the start he was so helpful!
I had no idea at all about DSW when I started this, I was struck by his enthusiasm which is totally contagious and he organised a fabulous session for us. It was a mixed group, and everybody really enjoyed it.
I would thoroughly recommend this as a group activity - really fun and a great way to get to know people! And Redcross way is a brilliant location - you have a view of 'The Shard' as you build your wall!
Dry Stone Walling (DSW) Workshop Central London - For a Hen Celebration - - #10344
What a fantastic hands on day, building dry stone walls (dsw) in a lovely community park in south London.
our expert teacher, John, gave us an insight into the art of dry stone walling. Straight away we got into working with the materials and the tools and discussed the history, theory and techniques of DSW.
I would really recommend getting involved in this course. It has given me knowledge and an appreciation of the art and skill of dsw, and I look forward to looking out for these great structures be they on the British hillside or even (as we found out) supporting the terraced soils of Tuscan orchards!
Ben Angus - - #10110
A really useful and enjoyable day; at the end of which I think I have a good idea of the fundamentals of building dry stone walls on my own.
Dry stone walling workshop - - #10022
It has been fantastic. I wish it was longer, or that I had a stone wall to fix now or something.
Balazs Endrodi - - #10007
A completely absorbing, fun and educational course which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in dry stone walls. John is a wonderful, humorous and patient instructor and very hands on in his approach whose passion for the subject shines through. I felt very proud of my wall. All in all it makes for a very rewarding day. Thank you John.
Ruth Tilley - - #9588
What an incredibly enjoyable day spent! I loved it all. An amazingly incongruous thing to be building a dry stone wall in full view of The Shard. It was tiring but in a very 'mindful' way, so actually pretty relaxing and very satisfying. We have a cottage in Devon and I've always wanted to build a feature 'slice' of dry stone wall in it. John is a lovely man and a great teacher. Overall an excellent, educational and fun day in really pleasant company. Would highly recommend to anyone!
Rosalyn 'Rosie' Barnes-Galton - - #9513
Thanks John, for a great day. The course was a great introduction to dry stone walling and has given me the confidence to attempt my own project at home. When it's all done I will send you a picture .
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
Richard Law - - #9272
A wonderful day learning a new skill with friendly people and excellent tuition in the fantastic setting of Crossbones in south London. Thanks very much John!
James Castell - - #9270
I thoroughly enjoyed this one day course and would recommend it to anyone who wants either to put the knowledge to practical use, or to someone who may just want a fun, creative day out. John, our instructor, is a very engaging, personable and a fantastic teacher. As well as being funny and engaging he is a veritable fountain of knowledge about his subject and it was fascinating to hear all about the uses of dry stone walling. It was great to get a real introduction into dry stone walling straight from the horses mouth, so to speak; getting to know all the different technical terms was brilliant. The main focus of the course however was very hands on and the majority of the time spent was on constructing our own walls with John's invaluable help and supervision throughout. This workshop will leave you as it did me, hungry for further knowledge and experience in DSW. The course also lead me to the Crossbones garden which I probably would not have discovered otherwise. It's a inspirational oasis of a place and brilliant that it has come about thanks to the efforts of some determined and committed people.
Matt - - #8569
We both thoroughly enjoyed the course and it had to be said that one of us was attending under duress but both of us were thoroughly smitten by the end of the day. John was a patient, thoughtful and enthusiastic teacher- e could not have asked for better. We would recommend this course not only for those with walls to tend to but for anyone who appreciates good craftsmanship and wants an interesting day.
Tania and Kerim Fuad - - #8543
This was an excellent day from beginning to end. John Holt was knowledgeable, informative, interesting and made the day a perfect introduction to dry stone walling. I attended along with my 17 year old son and we both loved it. John has exactly the right combination of outlining what you should do, and letting you get on with it to "learn by doing". I can't recommend the course or praise John highly enough, it was a wonderful day. Thank You!
Duncan Neilson - - #8541
I had a wonderful day in the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside on the Dry Stone Walling course. Its something I've always wanted to do - I have my husband to thank for booking it for my birthday'
John has great way of putting you at your ease, his passion, extensive knowledge and experience for dry stone walling, together with his never ending patience made the course a very enjoyable and rewarding day.
Its very fulfilling to know whilst you are improving your own skills, something you help to create will fit naturally into the landscape and will be a home for nature for years to come. Travelling the countryside and seeing all the dry stone walls will mean a lot more in the future!
Alison Thompson - - #8376
A very good day's course, with "hands on" experience, much encouragement and good notes, all under the watchful eye of master stonewaller John Holt. A great course to find in London.
Jeremy Prescott - - #8364
I had a brilliant day. I'm considering building one in my garden. I will attend another course before doing it as I was just getting the 'knack' and then the day ended. John is an excellent teacher with his patience and enthusiasm.
Steven Loud - - #8362
Went with our daughter and her partner in a small group of 4. Had a very enjoyable and productive day. Amazed what we all managed between us to achieve, namely 2 substantial , sturdy, and attractive walls with coping stones on top and a seat to rest on.
John Holt was thrilled to share all his passion for the walls and we all sat down for a nice lunch together I the sun. Would recommend as a complete step out from what we all usually do. Great fun and satisfying when you find the right piece which matches. The jigsaw analogy fits well.
Hand-outs were clear and helpful. One day I will build a raised bed with seats as a project. shame we could not bring them home.
Oh, and the history of the site was intriguing, too, with a lovely carved wood canopy gateway.
Gerry F - - #6004
Really enjoyed my one day course with John Holt, despite blazing sunshine which made lifting stone heavy going! It's remarkable how much information John managed to impart in one day, all in an easy, anecdotal fashion, but his obvious passion for the craft of dry stone walling comes across strongly and infects anybody who takes the course. Obviously, you can't learn a skilled craft like this in a day, but the experience of taking down a wall, sorting the stones and then building another wall - along with the fact sheets given to at the end of the session - will give you a good grounding and hopefully the appetite for more!
Gavin - - #5953
Great course, taught by the friendly, knowledgeable and passionate John Holt in London Bridge. Loved the fact we were learning the ancient craft of dry stone walling in this little oasis in the city - against a backdrop of the modern Shard, Gherkin and Walkie talkie skyscrapers!
Sarah Roberts - - #5882
Fun day of hard work in the very hot August sun, but learnt lots about the fundamentals of DSWing. Very interesting.
Katherine - - #5870
Reflecting on my dry stone walling course at Crossbones Gardens in central London, I can look back with much pleasure and fulfillment. Our teacher John, an obvious expert and devotee of the art, gave us a good introduction and then let us loose on the real thing, a pile of stone!
We naturally made mistakes as our efforts made progress and later, John pointed these out and guided us in the right direction.
By the end of the day, we had achieved a section of wall and had learned the importance of such principles as "crossing" and "through stones". It had been an interesting and enjoyable day.
Since the course I have been dry stone wall spotting and even noted a number of examples in West Sussex, sandstone I think!
Thank you John.
Peter Cook - - #5797
I really enjoyed the one day dry stone wall building course. John was very informative and supportive as a tutor and I have to say that the group built some walls that you would be proud of. The site is very central, peaceful and presents a great view of the shard and other local skyscrapers. I'd highly recommend the course to anyone who would like to try something a bit different and the fees help in the upkeep of the hidden gem that is cross bones cemetery. Well done to John and all the other volunteers that donate their time!
Fran Kehoe - - #5440
John Holt provides a hugely enjoyable and educational day. Great on heritage, theory, and the practical art of crafting a wall from scratch - selecting, positioning, sequencing, and shaping the stones. You'll have a really good time!
Andrew Stracey - - #4629
A big thanks to John Holt for his clear and helpful instruction during the Dry Stone Walling course. His love for the craft and huge experience was so uplifting and energising and it made the day really enjoyable. The Cross Bones memorial garden is also a beautiful space to work in, with friendly wardens. I came away with a good beginner's knowledge of the skills required, and will be looking forward to taking it further when he runs some intermediate courses in the future. Highly recommended, pitched just right, not too tiring, and a real sense of achievement. Thanks to the Borough Open Spaces Trust also.
Nick Skelton - - #4504
I really enjoyed the course. John takes you through the stages and skills needed to build a wall. He then patiently shows you in practise how this works. You leave at the end of the course having created something. Recommended.
Jane - - #4493
If you are curious about stone walling then this is a great place to start. The class has a very easy going and friendly atmosphere, and John is a great laugh as well as being mega helpful. If you are not sure that stone walling might be for you, a few minutes of watching John constructing a wall might change your mind. Very cool.
Mick - - #4476
I loved this course. It was such fun - and we totally fell in love with John who taught us how to build a wall with such charm and skill. I didn't honestly think I'd leave being able to build a wall but I can and we felt brilliant at the end of the day. I can recommend this to anyone who wants to learn a skill or just do something totally different.
Elizabeth Cotton - - #4383
Attended this course in 2015 and it was FAB! John has such a passion for his craft and is really patient with a great sense of humor. Never any pressure, a really relaxed but informative workshop.
Nicola - - #4141
We attended one of John's courses last summer as a work team. Harder than it looks but clearly explained, worthwhile project, a good team day and great fun.
Mike Allen - - #4043
Great day, interesting project and wonderful instruction. Couldn't recommend more.
Dan - - #4038
Our teetering contributions are testament to dry stone walling being nothing like as easy as it looks! Lucky Cross Bones to have John bring the wisdom of the ages to bear on proceedings and help salvage something of our reputations. An antidote to the ills of the modern world ... you must attend.
Rob Lamond - - #4024
hello i had a great time!
arthur - - #4023
John and his seemingly limitless knowledge and enthusiasm for dry stone walling made for a really educational, fun and fulfilling day. You'll start noticing the wonder of dry stone walls everywhere and appreciating the craft and love with which they're built. It was wonderful to work with the stones and nature. I can't rate John's course highly enough.
Sophie - - #4019
I had a fun day with my Partner learning a new skill with a lovely group of people and a great tutor. I certainly never thought I'd be learning such a skill in central London. I recently returned to see the wall which now holds a planted flower bed and looks fantastic (and is still standing). I'd recommend this one day course to anyone looking to try their hand at something different and also it is a great idea for a team building exercise.
Scott M - - #4018
If you want to learn how to build a drystone wall then Johns your man! What a brilliant day. Relaxing yet requires some thinking on how to fit the beautiful stone together. I'm sure you won't find this elsewhere in London. A totally unique experience which you actually leant something you can use in your own garden to make fab, eco friendly, stone walls that will last fur years.
Sarah Mangsn - - #4003
I've worked with John Holt enhancing our beautiful memorial garden at Crossbones. He taught his artform to people from all backgrounds, including lots of successful training days with community groups and corporate groups. They all gave glowing feedback. The stone really works in harmony with the beautiful timber benches constructed by artist Arthur DeMowbray. The walls also have great ecological value - I'd love to see more of these built, providing much needed habitats as well as beauty in urban areas. Train as many people as you can John!
Hej - - #3999
I attended one of John's drystone walling course in London and it was fantastic. John gave a really interesting explanation about the art of drystone walling, its history and reasons to preserve this heritage craft. We then learnt how to work with the various tools. By the end of the day I really felt as though I'd achieved something. And all in the heart of London - no need to make a long journey!
Helen John - - #3998
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