Working Party

Ratcliffe on Soar Holy Trinity Each year the SPAB runs a Working Party as a way of teaching traditional building repair techniques to a new audience.

For the last few years we have been working at Holy Trinity Church, Ratcliffe on Soar where we have been stripping off hard cement plaster and replacing it with lime plaster. We have also renewed the drainage system around the church and carried out some repointing and limewashing too.

This year a further team of a dozen volunteers got their hands dirty learning about traditional materials and how to use them under the watchful eye of Douglas Kent, SPAB Technical Secretary and Anthony Goode, Conservation Contractor.

The Ratcliffe on Soar villagers ensured that everyone was well looked after and fortified the hungry workers with lots of tea and cakes!

The images below show some of the work in progress.

Preparing materials

One of the first jobs was to mix the mortar for the repointing works. The mortar we used is made from lime putty and local sand. Mixing the mortar by hand is a good way of working up a healthy appetite before lunch!

Digging up the old drains

The old brick drainage channel with its thick concrete base was dug up and removed. The gullies were replaced and shingle used as a surface finish near the wall to help water drain away.

Replastering with traditional plasterNew plaster scratch coat

The church had been partly plastered in very hard mix in the past. This has been gradually removed and new lime plaster put back in its place.


Historically parish churches were often finished with limewash internally. This year we completed the limewashing of the south aisle in this lovely buttery yellow coloured limewash.

Rebuilding the churchyard wallScholar at work

Part of the churchyard wall had become unstable so it was carefully taken down and rebuilt with lime mortar. Lime mortar was also used to repoint the joints in some of the stonework after the old cement mortar pointing was sensitively raked out.

Tile repair

This tile repair technique was used to build up a section of decayed masonry at the base of the south aisle wall. Precisely cut sections of roof tile were used to bridge the gaps in the masonry.

If you are interested in taking part in a future SPAB Working Party send your contact details to