Volunteering as … part 1

It is a pretty stunning building to volunteer in!

In 2013 we are opening our house for an additional day each week. Normally closed on a Thursday, we’ll now be throwing our doors open and giving visitors the extra chance to discover the wonders of our historic house.

In order to help us do this we will be looking to recruit some additional team members to help out as room guides, Victorian Kitchen demonstrators and a whole host of other exciting roles. If you would like to know more, please drop us a line on 01789 470 277 or email charlecotepark@nationaltrust.org.uk

One of the roles we are recruiting for is Room Guides. In this blog, Chris Purvis, a volunteer Room Guide here explains how he got involved for a season and has ended up smitten and learned a whole variety of new things along the way…

“What made you think you might want to volunteer at Charlecote Park?

My wife and I were caught walking in the Park when we thought it was open. After being told when the park was open [N.B. Our park and gardens are now open everyday – but do check the website for more details], we were asked if we would like to be volunteers. I had thought about it but had never got round to doing it.

How long have you been volunteering at Charlecote Park?

This is my fourteenth year.

What did you expect to be involved in when you first came?

I expected to help visitors find their way around.

What other things have you done since you started at Charlecote Park?

All sorts. I very soon got involved with school visits. We used to run ‘Hard hat’ or ‘Hidden Charlecote’ tours were we took visitors into parts of the outbuildings and house not normally seen. We explained the working of the Stables and Slaughter House among other things. We also ran ‘Conservation Tours’ where we explained the conservation issues at Charlecote (and other historic houses). Visitors are often quite surprised to hear about some of the problems that have to be solved to maintain the building and artefacts. [For more information of our events and special tours, take a look at our main website]

Has being at Charlecote Park triggered any new interests for you?

I had always been a bit intimidated by heraldry because it was too complicated – I thought. The heraldry at Charlecote inspired me to find out about it and now, when I visit anywhere, I always look out for the heraldry. It has become almost an obsession. It is a very interesting subject and not all that difficult.

What is it that you have found particularly good and interesting about the work you do at Charlecote?

We are always learning. Sometimes a visitor will ask a question and the answer is not readily available. If no one else knows the answer it is amazing what else you find out when searching for the answer. Sometimes you do not believe what you are told. You try to find the real answer. For instance I was told the harp at Charlecote has eight pedals, four each side, so that it could be played left or right-handed. I wasn’t sure, so I searched for the real reason. In the process I found that a harp normally has seven pedals. The one at Charlecote is unusual in having eight. It took a long time to find out what that eighth one was for! Of course we also learn from our visitors. Being a volunteer is a two-way process. It has also been a wonderful way to meet new people and make new friends.

 If you want to find out what that eighth pedal is for you’ll have to visit and ask Chris (he’s usually here on a Friday)! We are also fortunate to benefit from Chris’s new found love of heraldry as he has written many articles for our staff and volunteers, explaining the meaning behind the heraldry here.

Carol, Volunteer Recruitment Team

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