This week we have a guest post from one of our room guides, Richard. He’s been with us for a couple of years now and consistently gets a round of applause whenever he does an introductory talk, no matter the weather!
It was a cold, wet and windy November day when I found myself sat in the house manager’s office at Standen explaining why I wanted to volunteer as a room guide. I remember gushing about how I loved old buildings and finding out about those who lived in them. I told him how I wanted to help bring Standen alive for visitors and share my passion for exploring historic properties. Over 2 ½ years on, I still mean every word I said and believe volunteering here has been the most rewarding “job” I have had.
For many years I have enjoyed visiting Standen. Whilst I have always enjoyed the colours and designs inside, I have always loved the way that such a big Victorian house still feels like a warm, inviting, family home. Because only one family have lived here, you get a real sense of a story behind the house and those who lived inside.
On my first day I was naturally nervous being surrounded by volunteers who seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the house and family. But being welcomed with tea and biscuits, I realised that the staff and volunteers are as friendly as the house is; help and advice is always on hand.
At Standen, every day starts with the morning briefing where we find out what is new, what events are going on and where we are guiding. Then it is off to spend a fun few hours chatting to visitors and sharing stories about the family and their possessions. I now also give introductory talks and enjoy leading guided tours up the water tower. Everyone has their favourite room, mine is the magnificent dining room with the huge Philip Webb fireplace. It never fails to bring a smile to my face encouraging cheeky children to bash the gong to announce dinner… I have even been known to have ago myself! [Ed’s note: please ask the room guide first!]
If you love the National Trust, love spending time in historic houses and love talking to people, volunteer. It is the most rewarding decision I have made.
I hope to see you soon,