The Dance Scholarship Trust (DST) is a charitable trust that was founded in recognition of the universal affection in which Monica Dance (1913-1998) and her husband, Harry Dance, are held by the Scholars of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). The objective of the Trust is to raise funds to reinforce the educational work of the SPAB; namely by providing grants to the SPAB in support of the SPAB Scholarship Programme and other educational work.
Monica Dance was Secretary of the SPAB for 30 years during the critical post-war period which saw the growth of effective public interest in protecting the built environment. Under Monica’s guidance, the Society’s membership grew twenty-fold, invigorated by programmes of lectures and visits to country houses; a Technical Panel was also set up to advise owners, which still exists today.
Arguably, Monica’s greatest contribution was the revival of the Scholarship scheme, which trained young architects in the repair of old buildings, at a period when this was not part of the regular architectural syllabus; the first post-war course was held in 1950. The Scholarship Programme is still active today; allowing Scholars (Architects, Engineers and Surveyors) opportunity to observe and experience traditional techniques and sympathetic repair in situ, and to visit structures of every age, size and style. With an emphasis on hands-on training the nine-month Scholarship is now considered the eminent programme for the training of building conservation professionals; many Scholars are now among the leading conservation experts in the UK and overseas, looking after a wide range of historic buildings and sites. Monica acted mentor and thoughtful pillar of support, guidance and inspiration to countless Scholars; she and Harry had no children, and the scholars became part of an extended family. It was fitting, then, that in 1988, the former scholars set up The Dance Scholarship Trust to ensure the continuation of the scheme.