Martin Coward Stonecarving

Martin working on the statue of St Peter for York Minster

York based stone carver Martin Coward has 30 years of experience in the industry, working alongside several teams of stone carvers in cathedrals across the country. With this wealth of experience came the desire to create of a business of his own. A love of old buildings, conservation, heritage and art allows Martin to work on stone carvings and replicate many original works allowing them to be redesigned and restored for future years. From large stone sculptures, marble restoration, casting and letter cutting, the work is always interesting and inspiring. Using traditional tools the craft of carving stone by hand is highly rewarding and the quality can be seen in the end result. Martin can work alongside a team or individually, producing work from small scale models to larger commissions.


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Martin Coward is a Stone Carver with over 30 years experience working on many historic buildings. A love of Art and Drawing took him to study Art & Design at Scarborough Technical College. With an interest in Stone Carving, he then went on to Weymouth College to take the City and Guilds course which involved learning Masonry, Letter cutting and Carving techniques.

On leaving college, he started employment at the Cathedral Works Organisation in Chichester where he worked on various projects including Blenheim Palace, the War Office, Chichester Cathedral and other buildings of note.

An opportunity arose at York Minster which allowed Martin to return home to Yorkshire. Working in the highly acclaimed carving workshop alongside a great team, the work there was excellent and he was able to work on many gargoyles, carvings and pinnacles. One of the most fascinating projects at this time was the re carving of the Great West Doorway and Martin working alongside Sculptor Rory Young, carved many of the scenes which included the "creation of Adam & Eve", and "the fall of the tower of babel".

During the 25 years Martin worked at York Minster, he latterly became the Assistant to the Master Mason working alongside Dr John David in the drawing Office. In 2013 Martin was given the opportunity to design and carve a replacement Statue of St Peter which sits at the top of the Great East Window. Martin worked closely with The Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) and used his own research to produce a full size 7 foot tall clay model which he then cast in plaster and then finally carved in stone.

In partnership with the University of Gloucestershire, the Cathedral Workshop Fellowship (CWF), is an organisation helping to lift standards in the training of apprentices and mature students at many of the Cathedral workshops through out the country.

Since 2012 Martin, as Module Leader, has been part of a team helping crafts people improve their knowledge and skills base in restoration Stone Carving. Martin finds this work very rewarding, staying in contact with the Cathedral workplace and helping others progress.

Now it was time to go it alone, Martin started his own business, Martin Coward Stone Carving in 2015 and works from his studio near York in the Howardian Hills. Work has included a new gargoyle for Ripon Cathedral and regular consultancy work for the drawing office at Lincoln Cathedral. In 2016 Martin was awarded the Master Craftsman Certificate and Yeoman Certificate by the Worshipful Company of Masons in London.

martin at work


Using hand tools and traditional methods of carving, Martin works sympathetically on heritage buildings and can be contacted regarding private sculpture, architectural carving, consultancy, memorial and letter cutting commissions.


A full schedule of works can be given, along with technical drawings & templates for masonry work. Martin has years of experience setting out and would provide photographic evidence, measurements and a fully detailed written report. Site visits included.


Working on York Minster was all about repair and restoration! Using the existing profiles from medieval times to continue work on a huge scale. Martin and the team at York were able to set out, repair, restore and create new pinnacles, buttresses, windows and gargoyles.

Currently Martin is repairing marble statues where the pieces have been broken neglected, left outside or deteriorated through age. To restore a sculpture means casting, filing, polishing and carving. However, seeing the end result makes, what can be a time consuming task very rewarding.

Restoration on the 12th century church, St Peters Dalby has also been completed by Martin. Using lime mortar to repair and restore the roof and walls. He has also restored the First World War plaque at All Saints Church, Terrington re-applying a paint to the text.


Keeping to a strict design can be of the utmost importance on an old property or when re-creating a sculpture that has stood for many years previous. To conserve a sculpture or a carving on any memorial or listed building requires a depth of understanding on how it was built originally, an appreciation of the history behind it and the appreciation of the materials used at the time. To be sympathetic to the past and to look at what is required in the future is incredibly important. Martin can research, copy original drawings and meet with the relevant architects to ensure that a replica piece is made. The St Peter was the largest carving Martin had the privilege of designing, modelling and carving.


Working with stone has endless possibilities, from gargoyles to garden sculpture the timeless qualities of stone are a delight to work with. Each piece is unique, creating something personal and bespoke for the client. Often Martin uses local limestone which has a distinct colour and texture. Carving with traditional tools allows the finish to have depth and natural beauty. Commissions can be taken on large commercial pieces, listed heritage buildings or on a more private one to one basis.


From memorial work including headstones & church plaques to a simple house sign. Letter cutting by hand using any style of font, stands out in terms of quality when compared with machine cut lettering. Letters can be gilded or painted creating a very unique commemoration, house number, name or logo.


When creating a sculpture from the beginning a scale model is created in clay then cast in plaster. When creating St Peter a full size clay model was made first! Martin is also interested in casting in bronze & learning about computerised laser scanning for use in future projects.


As part of a programme of teaching apprentices stone carving, Martin is working at Lincoln Cathedral. On a consultancy basis they are being taught setting out and the basics of stone carving. This enables the craft to be continued and a programme of works enables the students to come away with a qualification whilst working within the industry. Martin can be contacted regarding consultancy work to small teams within the workplace, passing on his skills and knowledge.


Small groups or individuals interested in a workshop day should contact Martin directly. A day rate inclusive of materials and lunch can be organised.

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YO60 6PT

Telephone: 07943 441822