Creative coppicing – the Bedales way


By Carter Clothier and Oscar Goldblatt, Block 4

On Wednesday, we, and seven other students got an amazing opportunity to take part in a workshop with The Creative Coppice Company. It was a really fun and productive day and we now have the skills we need to carry out our final BAC project.


Carter Clothier

For our BAC, Oscar D, Olav and I are making a post and rail fence to surround a new meadow which we will create between the Art & Design building and Outdoor Work. We started the day by learning how to split a piece of chestnut using a hammer and wedges, and we all managed to complete this with ease. We then progressed a little and learnt how to split a much longer bit of chestnut using the same method, but this time we had to split it into four. This was a little trickier and we all ended up with a lot more wasted wood than we would have liked, but nevertheless we all got the hang of it after a few hours.

WP_20170510_14_29_59_Pro cropAfter a well-earned lunch we went back to learn how to finish off the posts and rails. For the posts we had to mark out the location of the mortice and drill 12 holes into the post, this then needed cleaning up with a very sharp chisel. We created six slots for the rail to go into.  This brings me onto the most difficult bit – making the tenons, which is basically a practice of shaping the end of the rail to make it fit into the post. This is usually done with a chainsaw, but in true Bedalian fashion we had to do it the traditional way: using an axe and draw knife.  This slow and painful process consisted of chopping the corners off the quartered bits of chestnut with an axe and then shaving of vast amounts of leftover wood with the draw knife.

This took a long while to get the hang of, but we eventually got it down to about one rail every 25 minutes. By the end we completed around five or six rails. Only 98 more to go…!


Livi, Jamie and I are building a terrace / balcony around the new ODW office as part of our BAC project – the office was refurbished from a grain store by last year’s BAC students.

WP_20170509_10_53_50_Pro cropWe began working on our project by showing Dave, from The Creative Coppice Company, some of our rough sketches and ideas and then we started measuring out some of the sides. Once we had all the sides measured we then calculated that we needed six poles for our design. As a group we started to scrape the bark off the 2 .75m chestnut logs in preparation for marking-out and cutting. Getting set up and trying to ensure all measurements were in the correct orientation on a round pole is very satisfying, yet quite intensive and time-consuming.

However, we feel we picked up enough information to start our projects with confidence. The next step in our project is to dig the holes and position the poles so we can start putting the decking on. We all benefited a lot from this day and I think we would all agree that we would do it again.

Bedales builds for the Arts

Today Bedales, the school with the Arts at its heart, launches a campaign to fund an inspirational new Art & Design building in the very centre of the school. Planning permission has been granted for a two-storey barn that will enclose an open courtyard. A large and spreading oak tree is in the middle of this grassy quad and will dominate the development.

This building will combine all the Art and Design disciplines taught at Bedales – painting and fashion, industrial design and sculpture, woodwork, jewellery, ceramics, print-making, sculpting and drawing. These will all be studied in one integrated building that will reflect excellence in teaching and in which students can maximise development of their skills and nurture their talents.

A fundraising campaign to raise £3.5 million is underway. Once funding is secured, construction will begin in Spring 2015 and the new building will open its doors to students in the Autumn term 2016.

Commenting on the public launch of the project, Keith Budge, Headmaster Bedales Schools, said: “Bedales is constantly evolving. In 2006, Bedales Assessed Courses were introduced as a better alternative to some GCSEs and this enabled Art and Design students to play to their strengths and gave ample scope for ambition and creativity. The truth is, however, that the buildings in which we teach Art and Design are tired. They are struggling to remain weatherproof and there is simply not enough space to accommodate all the students who wish to take these subjects. A new Art & Design building, combined with our first class teaching, will be a powerful combination.”

Patron of the Bedales Art & Design building project and Old Bedalian, David Linley, said: ”This is the most exciting building , an inspired take on the arts and crafts tradition at Bedales. New generations of students will love to study here and will produce great work. My only regret is that I myself will not be getting down to business in the sunlit studios and workshops “.

To find out more about the project, please visit or contact Veryan Vere-Hodge, Head of Development, Bedales Schools,

Bedales Art & Design building


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.