Devon Hedge Laying & Stone Walling Course (2 days)


6 in stock

Hedge laying is a skill which is being re-invigorated nowadays with farmers being encouraged to return to the ‘old ways’ of hedgerow management.


2024 Course Dates:

Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th October 2024


Time: 10am – 4pm both days

Price: £160 per person

Minimum age: 16


A practical introduction and study of the making and re-making of a Devon hedge, using stone walling and turf banking techniques.

These banks in various states of repair, are the edges and hedges of the lanes, fields, villages, towns and moors of Devon. Many of them have survived from stone age times, and they have so many functions in the healthy ecologies that Devon’s land can support.
Over the two days we will practice using all the tools for the turf edging, the stone facing, the laying, planting and steeping of the living hedge.

Here in Devon, sandwiched between Dartmoor and the sea, we have a tradition of building living stone walls. These are the Devon stone faced banks out of which grows the Devon hedges.

The Devon hedge consists of an earth bank faced with stone or turf which usually has bushy shrubs on the top. They are characteristically very old, rich in wildlife and visually very attractive, consisting of an earth bank, faced with the local stone, often collected from the fields they enclose. We have some hedges with stone faced Devon banks here at The Husbandry School that have a history going back to Neolithic ages, with few gaps in maintenance along the way!

Hedgerows in general are known to support a tremendous range of wildlife interest – otherwise referred to as ‘biodiversity’ (i.e. biological diversity). Over 600 plant species, 1500 insects, 65 birds and 20 mammal species have been recorded at some time living or feeding in hedgerows.

On this course – you will learn how to assess a hedgerow for ‘steeping’ ( the Devon term), what woods will bend and flex, when to tackle the job and how to tie the work together. You will learn the way to create the thick and bushy growth of an effective barrier offering significant shelter against the wind, animals, and even your neighbours! This course will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to build a stone-faced structure too. It need not be limited to walls or boundaries – how about a sculpture or terrace in your garden?

Course summary

• An introduction to the tradition of hedge-laying.
• A short, illustrated introduction to the history and traditions of stone-walling
• How to identify and prepare your hedgerow
• How to boost your earth wall or foundation
• How to cut and shape wood
• How to deal with an eroded or gappy hedge
• How to prepare ‘steepers’
• What tools you need
• A practical demonstration on how to choose and lay stone, starting from scratch
• How to maintain your wall or structure once it’s up

Course numbers are restricted to a maximum of 6 people so there will be plenty of time for your questions and one-to-one attention.


**Please Note**

Individual refreshments will be provided, but we ask that all participants bring their own lunch as we are not able to provide a shared lunch under current COVID guidelines.

When purchasing your ticket, please ensure you complete the form to make us aware of any health conditions or allergies as well as any additional support that you may need during your day with us.

About the tutor; Jonty Williams

Jonty’s interest began with a Degree in ecology and genetics at Lancaster University. This led, through an interest in all things to do with soil, to a five year apprenticeship in husbandry. He was taught and mentored by a countryman called Walter Edwards, who was brought up in Devon’s finest traditions of looking after the land and all things on it.

Jonty went on to run a successful dairy herd for many years, and lately has taken on the task of understanding and learning about how we can renew the practices of husbandry today.
Prior to their move into the Husbandry School, Carole and Jonty together set up and ran a 40-tutor Course Centre in Arts, Crafts and Rural Skills on their farm in Devon.

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