Learning the ancient craft of leatherworking

Matt Jacques is one of Allchurches Trust’s more unusual grant recipients. He’s half-way through a three-year apprenticeship as an architectural leather-worker and is learning his craft under the eye of revered leather designer, Bill Amberg.

Matt’s apprenticeship is funded by Allchurches Trust in partnership with QEST, the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. QEST supports craftspeople of all ages and backgrounds so that traditional British craft skills that might otherwise be lost can be passed on to future generations. Matt’s being expertly taught by a small team at Bill Amberg Studios that produces bespoke fittings and furniture for interiors.

“I definitely want to make and repair leather for churches and old buildings when I graduate. I’m learning to make wall panels, flooring, handrails, desks, seating, doors and boxes and I’m using all kinds of skills from stitching to wet moulding and embossing. We’re even making leather curtains for a new gallery at Westminster Abbey.” Matt Jacques

Matt completed a textiles degree at Chelsea before taking up carpentry. When he saw the QEST scholarship advertised, he realised that architectural leatherwork would perfectly combine his passion for materials and his interest in construction and design.

Bill Amberg said: “There aren’t many opportunities to train as a leatherworker so I’m delighted that the funding from QEST and Allchurches Trust is making it possible to run this apprenticeship."


“The skills that Matt is learning here are rooted in the traditional techniques that have underpinned the leatherworker’s trade for thousands of years...

...Our team draws from the age-old disciplines of casemaking, saddlery and bookbinding – often using tools and methods that have remained unchanged for centuries. Matt will help to ensure that the British tradition of leatherworking continues to thrive.”