Cob oven making, round wood timber framing, and stone work in the French Loire Valley

Duration: 8 Days

Price: £500

Run by: Sam Palmer
at Retreat to the Farm


La Guimarderie,

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About the Course

This course will be jam-packed and full of fun! In just a week you'll learn a huge amount, and become familiar with many materials that have been used for millennia - Earth, Stone, and Wood. You'll also leave with a thorough knowledge of how to safely use various hand tools.

Over the course you will learn how to make a stone base for the pizza oven. It's always worthwhile using locally sourced materials, in our case we will build using lime-stone which the 700 year old farmhouse is built out of too - let's hope the pizza oven also lasts that long! The highlight of the course will be making the cob pizza oven, this will use nothing but natural materials harvested from the land, and involve a lot of bare-foot dancing in mud! Once the oven is built we will make a round wood frame over it to protect it from the elements. You will learn some simple joinery techniques such as mortise and tenon, notching in purlins and even how to lay a green roof.

When making the oven you will learn about different mixes of cob and consistencies needed for building with this material. The theories learnt in this course could then be applied to a bigger project, such as a round house. We will talk about the benefits of using wood fired ovens, natural building techniques, sustainable development and the spiritual benefits to working with your hands and mind, but this will all come up organically whilst mixing mud!

This is open to all ages, and abilities!

This course will be taught by Harry Samuel, who is a trained green wood craftsman, natural builder and coppice worker. He has completed two apprenticeships, one under Barnaby Carder a.k.a Barn the Spoon and the other with Tim Gatfield of The Cherry Wood Project. He is a co-founder of The Green Wood Guild and Edventure Frome. ​Harry will soon set you at ease with his relaxed nature, and will be happy to share with you his vast knowledge of woodwork.

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?

Accommodation is set in a beautiful 700 year old farmhouse in the French Loire Valley, healthy wholesome vegetarian food is provided throughout your stay, as well as all of the teaching and tools. Refreshments are always on offer throughout, and there is even a private heated swimming pool on site!

Your travel to and from the retreat is not included. There will be optional excursions throughout the week for those who wish to visit nearby chateaux or markets so please bring additional euros for extra drinks, any meals outside of The Farm, entrance tickets etc. French wine and beer will be available, although at an extra cost (there is an honesty chart on the fridge which is paid for at the end of your stay). Bring clothes that you are happy to get mucky in!

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Course Start Dates

Thursday 7th June 2018

Browse all UK Conservation & building courses, Rural crafts courses, and Traditional woodland crafts & green woodworking courses

  • Accessible by public transport
  • Accommodation
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Suitable for events & groups
  • Teen friendly

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