Our chief house elf (aka House Steward – Julie) has kept an account of a what she and the elves got up to a few weeks back on Wednesday 23rd May… It give you quite an insight into their work and what they’re up to when the house is closed!
8.05 – Five minutes into the day and we are thrown into the first emergency! We have a local historian onsite this morning to view the original diaries of Mary Elizabeth Lucy. All we have to do is find them – easy I hear you cry! With a card index and digital inventory of our library what can go wrong? Well. The card index is out of date and the computers are refusing to load……grrrr!!!!!
8.30am – Ok so we now have half an hour to find 5 books out of a total 3500! Talk about needle and haystack. Thankfully we elves are a resourceful bunch and after 20 minutes of logic and brain power (way too early in the morning for that!) we have all of the books present and correct. Just in time as our guest walks through the door, phew!
9am – Right, now its time to get on with the main job of the day.
Wednesday means the house is closed so we spend the day giving all of the rooms some much needed tlc after a busy week of welcoming our visitors. Each piece of furniture gets some attention as well as cleaning the floors, sweeping the fire and straightening up the books that have been pushed back into the shelves by curious fingers. This cleaning is known as preventative conservation and will take 4 of us pretty much all day to complete.
1pm: Grumbling stomachs signal lunch time!
With the sun shining we head for the picnic benches next to the river. It’s at times like this we really appreciate what a magical place Charlecote is. Where else could we eat lunch accompanied by the sounds of the cascade whilst watching a heron standing majestically on the riverbank? Absolutely beautiful.
Just as a family of ducks are hoovering up our crumbs we hear the one noise that strikes fear in the hearts of elves everywhere – the fire alarm!!! Emergency number two swings into action as we evacuate the site and find out what’s going on. Thankfully it’s a false alarm and the cause turns out to be a spider making his home over one of the detectors.
2pm: With heart rates back to normal we head back to the house.
But what’s this? Special delivery for the house!!!!
Today is the day some of our ceramic objects return to us. They have been inLiverpoolundergoing conservation work for the past few months and are now safely home again.It’s a bit like Christmas morning in the Dining Room as we unpack two blue and white fish bowls – you have never seen quite so much wrapping! After the obligatory popping of the bubblewrap we reinstate the bowls to their homes. It’s a great feeling when our objects return to us; it’s just not the same when they are away from Charlecote and we find ourselves worrying about them like they are children!
3pm: Calm finally settles and we finish off the remainder of the rooms in the house complete with some floor waxing. This leaves the house with a fantastic scent of polish that is very ‘Downton Abbey’.
4.30pm: Time to say goodnight to the house (yes we really do say goodnight) and lock it up safely for the evening.
The troop of weary elves (what is the collective noun for elves?) head home after another day, ready to do it all again soon!
Julie – House Steward