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Understanding Historic Buildings Training Course, 11-14 September 2018.

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:

  • An awareness that the fabric of historic buildings is an extremely rich research resource which is the primary evidence required for interpretation and understanding.
  • The skills, techniques and sense of curiosity needed to investigate, record, interpret and protect historic buildings.
  • 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 possible alteration

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 
  • Dr Lucy Jessop, Senior Investigator, Historic England has an academic background in post-medieval Architectural History, which she has taught to the university sector. She has worked for English Heritage and Historic England since 2006, researching, recording and writing about places, areas and buildings across the country. Her current projects include researching buildings in Sunderland and North Yorkshire.
  • 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.

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.

Please note that payment is by credit or debit card and we will require this payment within one week of receiving your completed form. If this is not received your place will be given away. Once we have received your completed form our payments team will phone you for payment of the course fees which is due in advance of the course; your place will then be confirmed.

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

To reserve your place on this course please email your completed booking form to: and await a telephone call from our finance department in the week following. Your place will not be confirmed until we have received payment.

Download the booking form for the Understanding Buildings course 

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