People surveying architectural features

Understanding Historic Buildings Training Course, 16-19 September 2019

Learn key building investigation, interpretation and recording skills with this practical course, where expert tutors will show you how to observe, analyse, hand-measure, draw and photograph historic buildings.

Who should attend?

This course is intended for anyone working with historic buildings who would like a deeper understanding of fabric analysis, hand-measuring and hand-drawing. You may be working as a buildings archaeologist, historic buildings consultant or conservation officer, or in a related area such as architecture, surveying, engineering, archaeology or land management. Or maybe you are considering a career in one of these areas.

Why should you join this course?

  • The best recording of historic buildings requires strong analytical and interpretative skills which lead to an understanding of how buildings have developed; these skills are also essential to define an appropriate recording strategy.
  • Hand-measured and hand-drawn survey is an inexpensive, thorough and time-tested method of closely observing, interpreting and representing the evolution of a historic building.
  • Photography is a key tool in recording elevations, interiors and architectural features, as well as illustrating records and reports.
  • Instruction will be provided by expert tutors, experienced in teaching traditional methods of investigation, survey and graphics.


At the end of the course, participants will have:

  1. An awareness that the fabric of historic buildings is an extremely rich research resource which is the primary evidence required for interpretation and understanding.
  2. The skills, techniques and sense of curiosity needed to investigate, record, interpret and protect historic buildings.
  3. Practical experience of investigating and recording a historic building under expert supervision.

Course outline*

  • Day 1: sessions on analysing historic buildings, and an introduction to how to record them.
  • Day 2: a field exercise in Oxford, followed by presentations and discussions, then a session on photographing historic buildings
  • Day 3: full day exercise outside Oxford in building analysis and recording techniques.
  • Day 4: studio sessions on drawing and report writing, followed by discussion of the previous day’s case study.

*The outline is subject to change.

Meet the course tutors

  • Dr Adam Menuge, Course Director for MSt Building History, University of Cambridge and current President of the Vernacular Architecture Group
  • Allan T Adams, formerly Architectural Illustrator at Historic England and author of our guidance document, Drawing for Understanding
  • James O Davies, Architectural Photographer, Historic England 
  • Rebecca Lane, Senior Architectural Investigator, Historic England
Tutor surveying an historic building
Course tutor Rebecca Lane. © Historic England, James O Davies, DP181269

Course venue

The course will be held at St Anne’s College, Oxford which is located between the Woodstock and Banbury Roads; the college is a 20-25 minute walk from the railway station. The buildings at St Anne’s are mostly of the 20th and 21st centuries, including some by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and Howell, Killick, Partridge and Amis.

Delegates will need to arrange their own overnight accommodation; St Anne’s has reserved a limited number of single en suite bedrooms for delegates at £78 per night B&B. Please let us know if you would like to book one of these and we will send you the web-link and promotional code. There are other hotels, bed and breakfasts, restaurants and pubs nearby.

Course fee

The course fee for four days is £560, to include all tuition, lunch and daily refreshments as well as travel to and from the building recording venue on Day 3.

To reserve your place on this course please email your completed form to: [email protected].

Our finance department will use the details in this booking form to raise an invoice for your course fee, which can be paid by credit card or BACS. If payment is not received within 7 days your place will not be confirmed and can be given away. If you choose to cancel your place within 28 days of the event we will not refund any costs. If cancelled earlier than this we will provide a full refund of £560.

How to book

This course is now fully booked.

If you would like to be added to a waiting list please email: [email protected]
We will contact you if a place becomes available due to cancellation.

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