Wayne Hart – a driven young carver of stone

Before meeting Wayne Hart, I thought he was going to be much older than he was – he sounded so confident. He is in fact just over 30, but looks younger. He comes across as a highly organised, focused ardent carver of stone. He is also a typographer and sculptor.

When he carves his first last is slate: carvers tend to like slate above all else. Hart says, “I like slate because it possible to achieve very fine detail such as hairlines and serifs.”

Hart grew up in King’s Lynn and spent lots of time with his grandmother who has always enjoyed art, including calligraphy and watercolour. He and his sister would always be drawing, painting and baking when visiting her. He had an early ability in art noted in school and is an example of what you can achieve if you have a long term goal and the will and determination to aim high.

Finding the exact right path

 Not that Hart’s path to carving has been linear. He originally trained as a graphic designer and completed the BTEC National Diploma in graphic design. It was after that he began to concentrate on lettering and going to Reading University to read typography.


Wayne Hart – letter aware from an early age.

He has worked with great dedication on carving of letters ever since, but his approach is diverse, he is always seeking ways to add to his skills and knowledge.

This summer he will attend a postgraduate course in Roman epigraphy at the British School of Rome, studying Italian inscriptions and the Roman letterform. He won a scholarship to do this from the Harriet Fraser Bursary.

He is a role model for anyone wishing to finance their way through college. He has raised over £30,000 (£24,000 was for his apprenticeship) to help finance him through training.

 All about training and practise, practise, practise

With his degree from Reading he met various lettering artists and managed to land three weeks work experience with carver Richard Kindersley at his London studio.

He was an apprentice as a carver for three years in Cumbria, studying under Pip Hall. He learnt to draw and carve lettering and continued to practise calligraphy.

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Carving in wood – another discipline.

This time one task meant his embarking on a ‘letter carving in wood’ course with Martin Wenham at the College of West Dean, Sussex. There he worked on signage, memorials, commemorative gifts and also participated in six public art projects. These included thirty carved benches commissioned by Sheffield City Council.

“The first year of my apprenticeship was funded by the Lettering & Commemorative Arts Trust. It is the only organisation in this country that champions excellence in the lettering arts. It brings together artists and the public together via training programmes, apprenticeships, events and original commissions,” explains Hart with enthusiasm. He is a trustee of the Manchester Craft & Design Centre.

While he was an apprentice he forged links with various important institutions. In 2017 he was commissioned to carry out the lettering on C S Lewis’s memorial, laid out on the floor, of Westminster Abbey.

He also undertook the carving of Dame Edith Cavell’s memorial ledger and headstone, just outside Norwich Cathedral, where she is buried: “I carved the edelweiss on her headstone. It was based on the badge she helped to design that her nurses used to wear, “says Hart.

A dislike of the ubiquitous granite head stone

 One carver commented that he did not enjoy carving Cumbrian Green slate, it was good but a bit ‘glassy’, but Hart enjoys it and he works with it a lot.

Hart likes to work with Kilkenny limestone. He abhors granite shipped from China, because he wants to keep his wrists ‘working for a long time’. Granite is very hard to chisel. The monumental masons who sell quantities of granite head stones to the bereaved do so because it is cheap, using sandblasting for lettering mostly.

Hart points out that, “A carver is able to take a flexible approach to the stone, unlike monumental mason’s granite machine-cutting which tends to be very square, and there is no variation or flexibility.”

He says that mass produced head stones often have an unsuitable type face for example, Times New Roman (which was designed to be read in a small font for newspaper columns), and the letters are all the same size which is a great constraint.

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Some examples for Hart’s lettering and style –  for all manner of  letter work.

Hart likes to use local British stone where possible, and Italian marble and alternatives where necessary.


Creating a memorial for a loved one

 Hiring Wayne Hart to carve a memorial would be a luxury for most people, but sometimes the extra can be worth it. He charges per letter, as with any bespoke carving.  Bespoke carving for a grave stone is likely to cost in the region of £2,000 – £5,000 upwards.

There are a lot of decisions to be made by carver and client, to produce a pleasing finished product that both are happy with. There is the type of stone to consider -granite is value, sandstone is middling, and slate is the most expensive.

Grave yard regulations have to be observed, such as height restrictions to tomb stones, stone types and anything out of the ordinary will need to go to ‘faculty’, and can involve a series of ecclesiastical permissions.

Then there is the choosing the stone itself and the carving with a choice of many different letter forms. Carvers use letter forms, not typefaces, as all styles are drawn by hand straight from the mind, and even the same style can vary from work to work.

“I was greatly influenced by my apprenticeship mentor, Pip Hall. My fluid lettering definitely stems from her,” comments Hart.

His style continues to evolve and he enjoys designing fresh lettering styles that fit each brief.

“Carving is slow and precise. Funnily enough, it isn’t that likely an experienced carver would make a mistake while carving, like you would when writing a letter for example. If you know what you’re doing you can get out of a mistake, see it coming as it were,” he adds.


Hart on slate: it could be a memorial or for a grave.

Hart works hard at the business of being a professional carver, he is a natural net worker in a very ‘word of mouth’ profession. He is dedicated to his profession, working from his studio in Manchester. He loves what he does.

He says simply, “I want to be an artist”. He must be doing something right as he says he’s always got work  and some of it high profile. Happy man, he is at the beginning of many years working away at perfection.



Selling church land to pay for new developments  

Everyone with a church that needs repairs would like to land funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a grant from the National Churches Trust, or maybe receive a generous legacy. But sometimes, when large sums are needed for a church project, it can pay to think outside the box. One idea, which can be controversial, is selling church land for development. Hilaire Gomer, journalist and volunteer, investigates.


Raising large sums for two churches in Surbiton, Surrey

The parishioners of two major Anglican churches, St Andrew’s and St Mark’s in Surbiton,  have been discussing how to raise funds and improve facilities for at least 20 years.

Peter Stokes was parish treasurer for 10 years to 2013.  He explains, “A study of the needs of the local community was undertaken in 2003, as a result of which it became obvious that if we were to achieve our aim of serving God by serving the community, we needed to improve our buildings”.

But how to find the money? The Victorian parish church of St Mark’s, its steeple on the top of Surbiton Hill a local landmark, had an old church hall which could be pulled down and the land sold. It also had a reasonably-sized graveyard with space for a new church hall and a new vicarage.

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St Mark’s church decided to sell land to a developer to build flats – see left 

Developer Shanly Homes offered the best price of £3m for the land. It wished to build 20 luxury flats with balconies and underground parking on the site. These flats came to the market with a price tag of £200,000 – £500,000.

At the bottom of Surbiton Hill sits St Andrew’s church. Its old church hall site was redeveloped with affordable housing and a new Scout HQ.

Changes to help the two churches to work  better with the community

In all, the parish spent £5m on improvements for the two churches so that they could provide more for parishioners and local people. For this it gained a new hall attached to the side of St Mark’s church. The old 1950s vicarage (which was in the way of the Shanly build), was pulled down and a new vicarage built on the graveyard.

St Andrew’s saw the creation of two new community rooms, one strikingly made of glass and steel. The rooms are used for meetings and available for hire and also provide pre-and after-school child care.

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A new meeting room for St Andrew’s, Surbiton

The money also financed the refurbishment of both churches. St Andrew’s, a grade II- listed red brick edifice with a tower built in 1874, has a fine organ and is known for its musical events.

During 2008 and 2009 St Andrew’s interior was cleaned, revealing striped stone work on its pillars. It was given new staging (the old version collapsed during a concert). It was also given a new magnificent Italian marble floor.

Picture 017.jpgSt Andrew’s, Surbiton, benefited from refurbishment and an Italian marble floor

According to Peter Stokes the project went relatively smoothly, with Kingston Council being supportive. He said, “From planning to rededication it took about seven years to carry out the works, finishing in 2012.”

A good development – but maybe not so affordable?

Many parishioners felt that if you had to have development to refurbish and improve the churches, then the Shanly development was acceptable.

There was some dissent about why the churches didn’t think in terms of more affordable housing, rather than the luxury flats that were built. The answer from the project team was that without the Shanly offer the viability of the whole project would have been in doubt.

On the whole parishioners accepted that it was OK that “holy ground” was being developed, but the land that Shanly used was not in fact part of the graveyard. St Mark’s new church hall and its new vicarage still has the churchyard surrounding them.

The remains of about 100 parishioners from St Mark’s churchyard dating from 1845, whose grave stones had gone, were moved. They were re-interred in Surbiton Cemetery with a new memorial.


Shoreditch Baptist church

Another similar scheme took place in Shoreditch, east London. Shoreditch Tabernacle Baptist Church wanted a new building, and the local specialist Mildmay Hospital needed upgrading.

So both organisations pooled their land and were able, in this crowded, fashionable part of east London, to work out a big, imaginative scheme. It involved a new church, a revamped hospital, affordable housing and much more. Planning began in 2007 followed by a construction period of 2014-2017.

The bill came to £40m. This was partially financed by the building of 139 flats: 31 were social renting, 14 were shared ownership, 69 were privately rented via housing association Genesis Housing Group, and a quarter were sold on the open market.

The development made a genuine beneficial difference to the area. Before there were dark unfriendly alley ways, now anyone can walk through –  a light, attractive public space.

The development is deemed a success because many different needs from different organisations and parts of the community were satisfied, and it provided much needed affordable homes.

Deciding to sell church land is sensitive

Catherine Townsend, Grants Manager for the National Churches Trust comments, “The future for church funding is quite concerning. With the Heritage Lottery Fund reducing the funds it has available for Places of Worship, churches need to consider alternative ways to raising funds.

“We have seen a few churches approaching us for grants who have chosen to sell under used buildings or land, but this won’t be a suitable solution for every church. Church buildings are often entwined with emotion and sentiment, and there will always be a balance of opinion and benefits if a church does decide to dispose of assets.”

Clergy, church goers and church lovers want churches to thrive and most accept that some development of church land, if sensitively done, may be needed. Selling a little-used ancillary building is an attractive option for churches.

Given that parishes want facilities such as lavatories, meeting rooms, underfloor heating and a general upgrade of their old and not-so-old church buildings, developing church land, especially in the centre of cities, is already happening, and it is likely to be an increasingly popular option.

Of course, anything to do with disturbing graves and selling chunks of the actual graveyard can be sensitive. Not surprisingly there is also concern if a church does not consider providing affordable housing in a development.

What do you think about churches raising funds from non-traditional sources? Do you think there are controversial issues to be debated? Please let us know by commenting on this blog or by emailing us at info@nationalchurchestrust.org

Writing Cathedral History

In a special guest blog, Nicholas Orme, emeritus professor of History at Exeter University and an emeritus lay canon of Truro Cathedral, writes about his new book, The History of England’s Cathedrals. The book is published by Impress Books, in paperback and hardback, and has over 90 maps and illustrations. On sale at £20, our supporters can get a 35% discount by visiting http://www.centralbooks.com and typing in the code FRIENDS.

Every so often, books appear about England’s cathedrals. Their authors follow a well-trodden path. Essentially they write about the buildings: when they date from, the interesting features they have, and what you can see when you go there. They always have beautiful photography. But there is something missing.



The book’s cover depicting John Constable’s 1823 version of Salisbury Cathedral.

The standard cathedral book is about beginnings and ends. It explains the cathedral came into being as a building and what it is like now. It does not usually tell you the story in between, or say much about people. What went on in the building in, say, the Middle Ages, or under Elizabeth I, or George III, or Queen Victoria? What would you see if you could go back, and whom would you see as well? Who would be leading the worship? Who would be coming in, and why would they do so? To pray, to listen to music, to look around, or even to steal? All these things have happened in the past.

From Roman Britain to the present day

A couple of years ago I set out to write a history that would cover those kinds of questions. It was only when I finished it that I realised it had never been done before. The reason is, perhaps, that you need to be rather stolid to try to tackle a topic that runs for 1700 years, from Roman Britain to the present day! But having done it, I am glad that I did. It revealed things about cathedrals that you never discover by studying them one by one, or by dealing only with their architecture. Let me show you what I mean by taking you back in time, very briefly, to show what cathedrals have been like at various stages of their history.

It is the early 1400s. We visit what we think of as ‘the church’ or ‘the minster’ or, in London, ‘Paul’s’. We cannot call it the cathedral, for the word does not exist. That is because as well as cathedrals there are great monasteries, which look much the same. All that marks a cathedral is a bishop’s throne and some bishops’ tombs. We enter the church through the nave. In front of us is a great stone screen – the pulpitum – shutting off the choir from view. We can listen to the services inside it but not take part in them.

There are side altars, all screened off, where Masses are said, and images that we can venerate. There are probably two dozen statues of Christ, Mary, and various saints. We can kneel before them, we can walk around, but there is hardly any seating. We experience religion in a spiritual rather than an intellectual way. The services are in Latin. If we say prayers ourselves, they are in Latin too: the Paternoster, the Ave Maria, and the Creed.

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The Ethelred Gate. Norwich Cathedral.

Now let us move on 150 years to the 1560s. The Reformation has happened. But the building is still here – amazingly so. All the monasteries have disappeared. Cathedrals might have gone the same way, but Henry VIII liked them. He protected them and their lands, and he added five more to their number. People now think of them as special places. The word ‘cathedral’ comes into use for this reason. Inside, there is still a pulpitum and a choir, but all the images have gone. Some have been removed; others have been smashed and left to warn us against superstition. We can no longer do any private devotions because there is nothing to venerate. There are only morning and evening services in the choir, with sermons on Sundays, all now in English. The building is emptier. It has lost the images, side altars, and chapels. The vacant spaces are being filled with tombs of the nobility and gentry. This shows us that the Church is now under the control of the crown and the powerful laity.

Greece and Rome

Another 150 years or so now pass, and we are in the eighteenth century. This is an age that takes its standards from Greece and Rome: in architecture, art, and literature. The medieval Gothic building seems an anachronism. We would prefer it if our cathedral was like St Paul’s, but there is no money to replace it, so we have made the best of a bad job.

The choir, where services happen, has been made as classical as possible. There are square horse-box stalls to sit in. The holy table is neatly railed in. There is modern painted glass in the windows and sometimes painted curtains on the east wall. An elegant organ case sits on the pulpitum. If you come for a Sunday service, you walk through a cold empty nave. When you reach the choir, you are in the company of well-dressed middle-class people from the cathedral city. Make sure that you bring a shilling, or you will not get a seat. The stalls are locked, and you must tip the verger to open one.

If we leave this time behind and continue another 150 years, we are in the second half of Queen Victoria’s reign. This is an era of change: of industrialisation, rising population, and political reforms. Cathedrals have also been reformed. Since 1840, most of their property has been taken away to fund new churches in the industrial towns and to improve the stipends of the poorer clergy. The cathedral now has only a dean and four full-time canons. We have regained a love of the Middle Ages, and the Georgian furnishings have come to look tawdry and dull. So we have refitted the choir with stalls of a Gothic design. These are still usually occupied by the clergy, the choir, and respectable people, but the vergers are now paid and do not ask for tips

JP Rochester 1906

Rochester Cathedral: rebuilt at the time of the Conquest.

The nave and choir have changed again. The great stone pulpitum has often been replaced by an open-work screen designed by Gilbert Scott. There is seating in the nave for the first time, and the nave is no longer cold and dim because there are gas lights and huge Gurney stoves to give warmth. This allows more people to watch the worship in the choir, and in the evenings there are nave services for the ‘artisan class’ who would not fit well with the Sunday morning and afternoon congregations. Cathedrals are trying to reach out to the population, more than they have done in the past.

The Twentieth century

Another century and half pass, and we are in the present day. If we know about cathedral history, we can see how things have changed in the twentieth century. The choir is still used, but it no longer houses a sung service of matins except perhaps on Sundays. That is because the adult choir members are no longer full-time cathedral employees, and the choristers cannot miss school for the purpose. We have kept sung evensong, however, and this allows the Anglican tradition of prayer and music to be maintained. Otherwise, the main area for services is now the nave, to house a larger congregation. Additional stalls are provided there for the clergy and the choir, and since the 1970’s there has been a nave altar because the main Sunday service is now  celebrating the Eucharist.

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The Vicars’ Gate, Wells Cathedral, demonstrating their importance as a property owning group.

Ornaments which were ruled out after the Reformation and were still controversial in Victorian times have come back, and cause no surprise. Candles on altars. Vestments for clergy. Images of saints and even Orthodox icons. The furnishings and services remind us that we live in an age of equality. There are now women deans and canons, and most cathedrals have girl choristers – sharing with the boys, and allowing them to spend more time at school. Lay people take collections, bring up offerings, and read lessons (something hardly imaginable in 1870). Nobody has a personal seat; you sit where you like.

All around us there are signs of how cathedrals are reaching out to society. Chapels are dedicated to social work, the Mothers’ Union, and the armed services. Display boards feature cathedral work, or that of a charity, or an African diocese. And after the main Sunday service, there are refreshments. The congregation mingles more equally than it could ever have done in the past.

Not only buildings but communities

To go back in this way is valuable. It reminds us that cathedrals are not only buildings but communities. They exist, and always have done, because of people: those who run them and those who visit them. Because they are communities, they change as society changes. The religion of the Middle Ages changed drastically at the Reformation, and more gradually in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.

Cathedrals have done well in adapting to change. Through studying their history, we can appreciate not only what they are like now, but what they were like in the past; what they once meant to people, and how they were cherished. Our ancestors passed them down to us. It is an awesome inheritance, but history gives us confidence that problems can be overcome, change can be beneficial, and the wonderful legacy we have inherited can be passed on to be precious to those who come after us.



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