Furniture restoration and related skills at Craven Conservation & Restoration on Cambs/Suffolk border.

Molly completing a modern upholstery project, marking out batons for back of the headboard. Newmarket, Suffolk.


At Craven Conservation, join a one day furniture restoration course which is flexible to meet the needs of students. We can tailor the course for total beginners to more experienced students. You can learn a new skill, meet new people and relax by doing something different from your day job.

We have facilities for all aspects of furniture restoration and decorative arts. This includes subjects like general restoration, cabinetmaking, upholstery, surface finishing, woodturning, marquetry and gilding, to name but a few.

The course is run by qualified tutors in a safe and friendly atmosphere. The workshop is well equipped and we will always look to match your needs. Bill aims to make the course days enjoyable and rewarding. He is fully qualified from City & Guilds through to Masters Degree and also fully accredited by BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restorers Association).

The maximum number of students on any course is 3 as we design the course to suit you and want to ensure you get a good level of tuition and advice. We are also happy to provide 1 to 1 tuition so please contact us to discuss the options.

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

The daily fee stated includes materials for 'Introductory Courses'. For more project based courses and where significant materials required, this would be extra, however please contact us for details. We provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) but we would advise students to bring any relevant safety items they have with them, we will advise students of any additional needs before the course commences.

This course can be flexible to suit your travel arrangements.

Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided. Students should bring a packed lunch.


Bill Ratcliffe at Craven Conservation and Restoration Ltd

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The Workshop, Barcham Farm
Barcham Road, Soham

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Corporate days out & team building
  • Parking provided
  • Seniors
  • Suitable for beginners


1 day (9:30am to 4:30pm)

Gold Badge
What does this mean?

This craft course provider has been awarded Gold status for receiving 10 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.

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Simon Braschi - - #39526

A very educational and enjoyable day spent in the workshop. I would highly recommend to anybody interested in learning more about furniture restoration or woodwork in general.

John T - - #39059

A great day of learning - Bill is very clearly an expert and a very good tutor. We covered many of the important aspects of restoration and by suggesting I took a small item to discuss, it helped to make the learning very real and the whole day very encouraging. So much more to learn but a great introduction, thank you!

Mike Clarke - - #33593

Great introductory day with Bill. Very friendly and knowledgable. It was just what I wanted from the day. He was able to provide some sound advice and answer all my questions. I learnt so much. What more can I ask. Thank you.

Robert Duncan - - #31511

Bill is great at going through a day like this (the intro day). I wanted some inspiration to get started, to sort out my workshop, and to learn a bit. All three nailed! The day flew by - always a good sign. Bill's workshop and equipment (and Bill himself) fills you with complete confidence and he obviously knows more than enough to address any angle you wish to take. The work ongoing around him and the materials that go with it are interesting in themselves and Bill hangs lots of the practical knowledge around that, in a very accessible way. Also, looking at little projects and ideas I had brought was really helpful. I'll be back for more specific work, once I've got my disaster of a workshop area sorted out.

Lorraine Doll - - #30456

Had such an informative day and found it so helpful in approaching my current furniture projects. I brought a small cabinet with me to the course which needs repair and Bill helped me to assess the structure and create a treatment plan for it which I have started on my return home. I really had very little knowledge and Bill was able to advise me on the basic tools and materials I needed to buy to get started. Without Bill's input I would have made stripping all my furniture as the starting point (YouTube advice) and now I realise after the course it's actually the final resort and not what my furniture needed. Once I finish my current projects I will return to pick up more restoring skills. My course was taken August 2020 during Covid 19 restrictions and I felt appropriate measures were taken so a very safe environment was provided. Thank you Bill for a very enjoyable day.

Shirley Sampson - - #30412

Just spent a fantastic three days learning how to restore furniture with Bill. I took along two chairs which I had rescued and then not had the skills to restore. Thanks to Bill, I feel like a now have a thorough grounding in the correct and ethical ways of restoring furniture, with skills such as stripping upholstery, re-gluing joints, using fillers, reviving shellac finishes, and refinishing bare timber. It's been really enlightening, thanks to Bill's clear and patient teaching. I love dusty old junk, but it has been wonderful to see my 'orrible old chairs slowly regaining their beauty and dignity beneath my hands. Bill is great company, and seems to have lived several lives in one! Looking forward to returning to pick up more skills once my chairs are finished!

David Burrow - - #28108

Fantastic 2 days with William. Not only is William a great guy and very easy to get on with but he has in-exhaustible knowledge.

Best course I’ve ever been on and will certainly be going back to learn more from William

Freddie Raymond - - #27954

I had an immensely interesting introduction to woodworking with Bill, who carefully and insightfully took me through the basics of hand-tools, timbers, techniques and his philosophy of restoration. The day felt tailored around my needs, all of my questions were answered patiently and I by the time I left I had gained a lot of Bill's enthusiasm. I have already booked in to his 5-day course making a Welsh Stick Chair and am thoroughly looking forward to it.

Tracey Hardy - - #27888

I had a fabulous two days working with Bill learning the complex art of furniture restoration. Although there is clearly a vast amount to learn Bill paced the days well and my poorly chair (taken along with me to work on) came home mended and strong, and I have now acquired the skills to complete its restoration prior to upholstering it. Bill is very personable and his ethics unquestionable. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and plan to return on a regular basis to hone my new found skills. Very highly recommended

Daniel Willimott - - #25952

I did a 2 day course on wood-turning. I found Bills easy teaching style pleasant and very easy to follow. One thing is clear is that Bill is passionate about all aspects of woodworking and this comes through in his teaching and methodology. I would highly recommend the wood-turning course and any other for that matter.

Sue Envill - - #25538

I recently spent two days with Bill covering dovetails and box making. I specifically wanted to learn how to properly cut dovetails but Bill also covered chisel sharpening and we did a small amount of work on the router table - a really bespoke course.
I came away feeling relaxed, with a sense of achievement and enthusiastic to produce further dovetail joints.
Bill is an excellent tutor, very calm and methodical and great company!
I'm already looking forward to further learning with Bill.
Highly recommended!

Debbie Stevens - - #22956

Bill worked with me to understand my goals and tailored the course to meet them. I am doing upholstery with a local teacher but needed to develop a better understanding of the wood in the furniture and how to conserve it. I did 3 days of training using some of my current projects as examples. Bill's enthusiasm about the topic and his incredible knowledge meant that he delivered a full, well structured and hugely informative course.

We covered so many areas with both hands-on work and theoretical knowledge. I came away with a good plan for my projects and the knowledge to work on them. But most importantly I have got some of Bill's excitement for this craft.

I will be booking some more days to expand my skills. Thanks Bill.

Laura Blyth - - #22370

I initially booked one day with Bill to restore some Ercol dining chairs. The day was spent learning, in a very detailed manner, about the structure and work that went into Ercol pieces and how to restore them to their former beauty. Bill was extremely knowledgeable and helped me become confident in doing the work they required. I booked a second day and now feel capable of doing the work myself at home due to the teaching Bill gave me.

Dilbar Suleymanova - - #22248

A very useful course, it can be suitable for complete beginner or someone, who is more experienced.
- step by step explanation
- key areas have been shown and taught in detail
- friendly and easy-going approach

I brought my old side table to upcycle for use in the garden. With extra information, I can now have a matching with the rest of my garden furniture, and durable addition.
I have also received valuable information on materials, finishes, types, techniques, which I can now use on my further projects.
Thanks again and I shall be back to change the upholstery on my old armchair.

Ben O'Loughlin - - #19929

I needed a good grounding on woodworking tools and their maintenance. Bill was extremely knowledgable and helpful. I will now look after my tools rather more assiduously and enjoy using them properly. An excellent day.

Jeremy Topham-Smith - - #19901

I have booked sessions with Bill and it’s been incredibly helpful. The attention to detail and patience has made it a great experience and I thoroughly recommend him.

Victoria - - #19898

I had a beginner’s upholstery course as a Christmas present, working on a footstool one to one with Bill. It was a great course, well planned and prepared, and Bill is a superb teacher, relaxed, friendly and knowledgeable. I’ve had a great time chatting and learning. Bill has been particularly flexible with dates and he couldn’t be more helpful. I would highly recommend Craven Conservation and am already thinking about my next project!

Susan McPherson - - #19894

An excellent day covering all the essentials. Flexible, relaxed and professional, extremely experienced. Highly recommend.

Edd - - #18130

A very enjoyable day spent learning about different aspects of surface finishing. Bill is a very knowledgeable teacher/craftsmen, generous with his wealth of experience. He is highly professional, yet at the same time his relaxed approach and patience put me completely at ease. I was delighted that he was able to fit me in at such short notice and was thrilled with the outcome; I now feel much more confident in finishing off some of my woodworking projects! I would recommend to anyone and I shall definitely return in the future!

Nicola - - #17675

Spent a fantastic day learning about marking out, sawing, chiselling and making a lap joint. The day flew by with the help of Bill’s expert guidance and patience! Ended up with a neat six piece wooden puzzle. The day was well planned out and everything was explained clearly. Even had a go on the bandsaw and disc sander for the first time!
I would definitely recommend a course with Bill.
Will be back soon!

Spencer Hanley - - #16689

Fantastic Day! Started off just about knowing where wood came from and preceded to learn about the many different tools and what they are used for, applied the learning by using Tenon Saw, general saw, plane, chisel, bandsaw, rotary sander, made wooden plugs, drilled and sanded to ultimately produce a really nice shelf out 1 plank and one length of 0.4x0.4. Bill was excellent; patient, engaging and not in anyway intimidating while I applied my ham-fisted talents. Brilliant.

Emily - - #15724

My boyfriend and I recently attended a 3 day course, in which we worked exclusively with Bill to complete a project of our choice.

The course was comprehensive and completely tailored to our needs. Bill worked incredibly hard to plan activities/tasks each day, ensuring that we were able to fit in as much as we could, whilst remaining flexible and allowing us to steer.

Bill is incredibly knowledgeable and a fantastic teacher. The course offered far more than we could ever have hoped and we have come away full of knowledge and enthusiasm!

Thank you Bill for such a wonderful course - we would book again in a heartbeat!

Response from Craven Conservation and Restoration Ltd:

Thank you Emily and Craig for your positive feedback, it is much appreciated. I would welcome you back just as fast! We had a really enjoyable few days. If you need any help you know where I am.

kind regards

Molly - - #15170

A brilliant course, Bill the tutor is highly skilled and is a fantastic tutor. He is very knowledgeable and guided me through all elements of upholstery from Making reusable templates, woodwork and construction of frames to buttoning and the final upholstery. I really enjoyed myself and feel ready to make more! A great course and great value for money.

Response from Craven Conservation and Restoration Ltd:

Thank you Molly for your kind comments, much appreciated. I enjoyed the 3 creative days and you produced work to be proud of. Good luck and hope to speak soon.

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