Federica has spent this week at Boxley Abbey in Kent, a former monastic site near Maidstone in Kent. The abbey is a remarkable survival and one of the most complete of the group of Cistercian abbeys which were established as daughter houses by larger monasteries. Above-ground remains include fragments of the church and cloister, the high stone wall and gateway surrounding a 23-acre inner precinct, and the intact 200ft-long ‘hospitium’. The whole inner precinct, aside from the Abbey House and its garden walls, is a scheduled ancient monument.

The working party was also partly held at St Andrew’s (former) Chapel, a fascinating building just within the abbey’s outer precinct and recently purchased by the SPAB. Although the role and history of this structure is still being explored by the Society, it seems to date from the 15th century and to have been built as a reliquary chapel.

The working party focused on the repair and consolidation of the masonry garden walls at Boxley Abbey, which will provide a unique opportunity for building professionals and enthusiasts alike to learn traditional conservation building skills through hands-on experience. They also built a temporary field kiln on the SPAB’s site at St Andrew’s, in order to burn local limestone to determine the correct mortar to use on-site.