The beautiful Victorian primary school in Ardington, near Wantage, is to be used again for educational purposes, but this time it’s the adults’ turn!

Restoration of the school started in January and Ardington School of Crafts opens its doors this April, offering an impressive array of more than http://www.wantage.com/wp0 intensive courses, all taught by experts and practising craftspeople.

The village of Ardington has a long association with crafts; once being home to the workshops of potters, saddlers, picture framers and seat caners. Being on the edge of the Berkshire Downs, the light and airy workshops have views over grazed farmland. Over a century of use as a school had left the building in a poor state of repair, tired and riddled with staples. During the restoration, beautiful original panelling and tiled floors have been revealed and handmade oak doors refurbished.

The school aims to promote the nation’s rich craft legacy and help keep endangered crafts alive. The course calendar offers both traditional and contemporary crafts ranging from stained glass, patchwork and woodcarving to calligraphy and silversmithing. With just a matter of weeks to go, it is advisable to book now to be sure of a place. Just a brief glance at the programme throws you into delightful indecision at which craft to try first.

The range of short courses is staggering, covering everything from Elizabethan goldwork embroidery, Chinese brush painting and stone carving to bookbinding, leatherwork and hand quilting. Some courses celebrate crafts from a particular region, offering the chance to make a Sussex trug, Dorset buttons or regional willow baskets such as the Welsh tea basket or the Irish sciob, used for straining and serving potatoes. Tutors have been selected for their standard of craftsmanship; many are award winners and members of professional guilds. Others are internationally recognised experts in their field. All relish passing on their skills and doing their bit in the movement to promote craft.

As Founder-Director Faith Pritchard comments “Ardington offers the chance to take up a new craft, immerse yourself in a craft you already love, or even discover a new and satisfying career.” To book, just visit the websitewww.ardingtonschoolofcrafts.com or call 01235 833433. (other photos available – please see website)