It was the dearth of bakers who knew how to bake using old-fashioned methods that inspired Alison Swan Parente, the chatelaine of Welbeck Abbey in Nottinghamshire, to set up a school dedicated to traditional food preparation.

‘We realised that there was a shortage of training, so, in 2006, my business partner Gareth Kennedy and I opened an artisan bakery in the premises of the old fire station on the estate: the idea of creating a centre of excellence for learning in all aspects of artisan food production was born,’ explains Mrs Swan Parente.

Next year, the school is running the country’s first foundation degree in artisan food. But several short courses that are aimed at ‘anyone from enthusiastic amateurs to established producers’ are taking place this autumn, beginning on October 3.

The courses, which range from one to three days, consider the principals of fermentation, including how to make Italian bread, exploring artisan cheese, ale brewing, preparing autumn preserves and even butchery. Mrs Swan Parente adds: ‘We’re working with the best people in the artisan food world to spread the word and teach skills that are in danger of being lost.’

For course information and registration, visit www.schoolofartisanfood.org