John is as experienced and knowledgeable as they come, having been building dry stone walls since the age of 8.
The course struck a good balance between supervised and unsupervised learning - you need to be told some knowledge and shown some techniques, but ultimately getting your hands dirty and making mistakes, with someone checking in and correcting where necessary, is the way to get a feel for it, and by the end of the day I definitely felt I was starting to get my eye in.
John was a very patient teacher, especially considering how slow and incompetent we must have looked compared to himself. He's also very keen to make and keep people aware of the what goes into dry stone walling and its heritage, and provided some useful information about e.g. National Dry Stone Walling Centre (which I will be sure to visit next time I'm on my way up north) and bee boles. I'm planning to volunteer for some restoration in the Lake District (although this will require some additional techniques).
All round I would thoroughly recommend this course.
Dominic Bevacqua - - #24700
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Dominic - Thank you for your feedback, it was good to have you on board. Great you felt the benefit of important specifics, the balance of teaching techniques and developing your 'eye'. Enjoy the NDSWC and your volunteering day's, Best Wishes, John
The teaching was very relaxed and clear. I felt confident right from the start and felt that I could easily ask questions. The venue was excellent with plenty of space to move around even with a large group. I can now go on to repair and rebuild my wall with skill and confidence. Thank you John.
Peter - - #24520
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Peter - Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased you felt at ease during the workshop and you feel good to have a bash on your wall, there was a lot going on. It was interesting watching you 'juggling the stone' which is normal to find the right one to place one over two or two over one ! There is much to learn and you achieved completing a good section of the wall and the difficult 'Cheek End'. We next in France 10-25th Oct. steps and retaining walls - check it out on here or web page.
My husband and I attended the workshop run by John on 10th Aug. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day and gained great insights into techniques used to build dry stone walls. John is a great instructor and very patient with absolute novices. There’s a good balance of checking/making sure you are on track and being left alone to work it out for yourself. Very therapeutic! I would actually like to go back to do a 2nd day to try building different part to the wall e.g. foundations stones. Thanks for a memorable day.
Anne - - #23910
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Anne - Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased you felt the benefit of 'being left alone' to put one over two or two over one. There is much to learn and you achieved completing a good section of the wall, juggling with the stone and following the line !!
I had a wonderful day! It seemed to pass extremely quickly, which was a testament to John's insights and "the wall." It is essentially a big jigsaw. I learned about basking stones, hearting stones, batter, first lift and second lift and more to boot. It was an inspiring and renewing experience which I would recommend to anybody in these fast days of computer games.
Guy Seaborn - - #23898
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Guy - Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased you were inspired by the experience. It was good to see your handling of the stone and how it improved during the day, choosing particular ones to form a 'racking angle', keeping the batter and placing the fillings.
I attended the 1 day Introduction to DSW at Mudchute Farm. What an incredible day, I learnt so much about an ancient craft. John is a wonderful teacher who takes the time to explain the fundamentals, the terminology and encourages you to jump straight in and have a go. John answered all our questions, describing in detail why some techniques are better than others, how to identify suitable stones and fashion the stone to fit its placement. I felt so confident by the end of the day that I can't wait to start constructing DSW on my property thanks to John's tutoring.
Angela C - - #23850
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Angela - Thank you for your positive feedback. It was great to see your work and ability improve during the day, juggling the stone to find the right face and familiarity with engineering terms. It is a 'hands-on' activity and best to do it, developing a 'natural eye'.
Really enjoyable day. You could see our walling technique getting better as we worked up the wall!!
Lots of new words and top tips. Some of my favourites - sheep creep, and cock and hen.
I must remember to may stones into the body of the wall and ensure strong cheek ends.
Thanks John for a great day.
Claire Abercrombie - - #23779
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Claire - Happy you remembered some terms and what they were, also build to the line, line blocks, batter frame, jumpers, face stone, on-bed, through stones, foundations and building up your cheek ends !!!! etc.
Very informative day spent with John who is an excellent trainer. The number of trainees attending, at six, was just right and the relaxed atmosphere was great. We learned a number of rules for dry stone wall building and tried to put these into practise during the day. For me wall building was much harder than it looked and needs a great deal of practice and patience. Very enjoyable day. One other point: I would have thought that safety glasses and boots would have been required. Whilst safety was not an issue on the day and we were all responsible adults there is still potential for accidents.
Many thanks and will recommend to others.
stuart wilson - - #23778
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Thank you your feedback Stuart, gets easier with practice !!
I have been looking forward to doing this course for some time. I have always loved DSW, having the chance to learn new skills is great and John is a great teacher.
I cant wait to put what i have learned in my own projects at home and friends.
Thank you for a great day.
Paul Howard - - #23372
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Thank you Paul - I am pleased you gained benefit from attending the DSW workshop. It is good to learn you will be using your skill to build a feature at home - or elswhere !! The group worked well together and much was achieved. I wish you well for the future. Take Care and Best Wishes - John
I attended John’s course which was held at Mudchute City Farm in London. It was my very first introduction to dry stone walling (although I had always been curious about it!) and I found it to be a great way to learn about this ancient and very practical craft.
John truly took the time and care to share with us his knowledge and experience in the art and technique of dry stone walling. The small group I was with worked to build a 2m x 1m wall and we were all very proud of completing our wall satisfactorily by the end of the workshop! A day well spent.
Miu - - #23344
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Miu - Thank you for attending the DSW workshop and particularly pleased you felt the day was 'well spent' from your first introduction to DSW, we must be doing something right. It is always interesting to see how people interact with the stone and juggle around with it before finding a suitable piece and a place it will fit. It is time consuming and takes some practice to develop a feel for the stone and natural eye. I wish you well for any future DSW activity you may undertake. Take Care, Best Wishes - John
Great hands on course.
John was knowledgeable and a wonderful inspiring teacher.
Thanks for a brilliant memorable day ! And will look at stone walls in a different way ..
RAdhika - - #23211
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Radhika thank you for your review and very happy you enjoyed the day. It can be daunting at first, but to let you have 'hands-on' experience early in the workshop, i think helps as shown in the progress after lunch. Certainly check out the other places where you will find DSW around town, you will now find them interesting. Take Care and Best Wishes, John
Really interesting course. Very well presented and demonstrated. John was extremely engaging and friendly, as well as knowledgeable. He spent time and talked with each person on the course. His guidance was instructive and interesting as we worked through the day and developed our skill (or at least our very basic beginner skills!). The venue worked very well in terms of getting to the site as well as the amenities available (ie cafe / toilet etc). It was the right length of time (you felt you learnt something and delivered an end product but did not get bored / feel you were there for an excessively long time). The general course was pitched at the right level. The material post course material given to us also provided a useful way of finding out more about dry stone walling.
All together it made for a great day.
Patrick Deen - - #23209
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Patrick Thank you for your constructive feedback, you developed a 'natural eye' during the day and was good support for colleagues. The feature developed really well after lunch and 'topping it off' was a delight for us all. You became a good 'juggler' of stone to get the right fit, face and 'batter' when putting it on 'it's bed'!! I hope you find Gloustershire walls much more interesting. Take Care and Best Wishes - John
Had a very good day. Learnt I can’t keep a straight course, with thin pieces of stone. Got better with the hammer chipping bits off to reshape.
Leant some terms, batter the angle of the wall, jumper - evening up a course.
Would take on doing a wall at home.
Tim Watling - - #22621
Very interesting course amazing what you can learn in just one day
Nicola Montagu - - #20541
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Nicola - It was a good day and i am pleased you found it interesting, observing the 'batter', the lines, seeing the foundations going in, placing of the 'three quarter throughs', juggling with the stone until you found the suitable 'face' and placing it 'one over two' ! It does take time to settle into the activity and wish you well in your future activity overseas - Take Care, Best Wishes - John
I found the Dry Stone Walling course to be very educational, and set at the right level for those attending. John was very knowledgable and helped the course along with his encouragement and anecdotes. It gave me the confidence to try a a few small home projects, and an interest to learn more about this countryside craft.
Nick Mansfield - - #20409
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Hello Nick - thank you for your time to review. Good to have two 'brothers' ! working along side each other 'juggling' the stone. You did appreciate getting your 'eye' in and time required to find the appropriate piece with suitable 'face'. I am sure your garden features will appear in due course and you spend happy times building a DSW. Best Wishes to both, kind regards, John
The day with John was a great experience! There were 7 'students' (all excellent company by the way) having a go at what, on the face of it, seems a straightforward process. I soon learnt how straightforward John made it seem!!
John spent time patiently explaining the process, showing details of the wall already built and pointing out the features of a dry stone wall. He dealt with the wall from foundation up and we soon learnt some of the terminology (2 on 1, 1 on 2, jumpers, cheek ends, batter etc.) and were able to (try and) apply the principles taught. I don't consider myself a good DIYer although I give things a go and this is the attitude that John wants. For me, it was not easy, and you should see it as a hands-on taster/introduction to the subject. In that regard, it was very good.
Philip Weston - - #20400
Response from London School of Dry Stone Walling:Thank you for your comments Philip, your time to consider the workshop content is much appreciated. It is a practical subject and i am particularly pleased you remarked on some of the terms used. It does take time and some 'juggling' to consider what stone goes where ! Best Wishes, John
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.