Well I have survived my first week at Hardwick Hall. What an amazing place to work! It is so big, huge compared to Powis (and especially compared to little Greyfriar’s!) but I think I am getting my head around everything. … Continue reading
Well I have left Powis Castle, and Wales all together for the slightly chillier climes of Derbyshire. My last weeks at Powis were as busy as ever, culminating in a live Baroque concert in the Ballroom on Sunday afternoon, and a play in the evening, both broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
The day involved the usual rushing around getting everything ready for the big events, but I was also trying to make sure I got a chance to say goodbye to all my lovely colleagues, and try not to get too sad about leaving. The evening play, The Misanthrope, wasn’t starting until 8 so I was going to head off an hour early and come back about 7 to set up for the play, however I was so busy running around helping the BBC people set up I didn’t get off early. The crew were really nice and remarkably laid back about the whole event, and the actors were so down to earth and friendly!
The Misanthrope was originally written by Moliere as a parody of 17th Century French court life, but this version was adapted for radio by Roger McGough, who was there on the night. He looked a little tense in the early evening but had a well deserved smile on his face at the end of the night, so I think he was pleased with how it all went. The actors were from the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse and English Touring Theatre co-production. The play mocks the two-faced way in which people in French society acted with one another, with the main character Alceste deciding he has had enough. I was a little worried the humour might go over my head, but it was a very amusing story and I would recommend watching it on stage should you have the chance, I know I will be keeping an eye out for it near me!
Luckily the evening was not as tiring as I was worried it was going to be. Everyone was being so nice they just wanted me to enjoy my last evening and watch the play. I had the seat of honour on the front row next to the Earl! The play was fantastic, the actors were really good and it was very funny. The costumes were fab too, I felt a bit sorry for everyone listening on the radio as they did not get to see the costume or watch the actors at work. I was really worried about sitting at the front as I was right in-front me and I tend to be quite fidgety, and I didn’t want to ruin it for the listeners. Luckily I managed to keep still as I was riveted by the story. It was a brilliant opportunity for Powis to be part of something so high-profile, and it was nice seeing the Ballroom come to life with people and the play. Let’s hope the BBC and the Trust can continue to work together on similar ventures in the future, it was so exciting seeing Powis Castle on the adverts on TV, and just the sort of expose Powis should be getting!
I felt so lucky to have been part of the whole experience, and it was a nice last day and kept me busy to stop me feeling sad about leaving such lovely people. I have had so many unique and wonderful experiences at Powis it felt right that my last day was yet another amazing event I would never have got to be part of if I had never gone to Powis. I have been so lucky in the wonderful things I have taken part in, and already being at Hardwick I have a very good feeling this trend will continue. There are some very exciting things planned in the coming months at Hardwick Hall!
For more information about the event and BBC Radio 3’s Baroque Spring events follow this link to the official BBC website. There are also some more photos of the play and cast on the Powis Castle Facebook Page.
So mission accomplished, I have got a full-time paid job with the National Trust, and it is pretty much my dream job too!! I will be working as a Conservation Assistant at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire for 12 months! I cannot tell you how excited I am to have secured this amazing opportunity, and how much that is thanks to the experiences I have gained here at Powis.
I will be very sad to leave Powis Castle, there have been so many fantastic experiences and I have made good friends with so many wonderful people, all in such a stunning location. Everyone has been so nice throughout my time here, and incredibly sweet and helpful in my last few weeks (there have been near tears on my part on several occasions). There will be so many things I will miss and I know I have been a very lucky lass, and continue to be working at another truly amazing NT property.
The skills I started to learn at Greyfriar’s, and have built upon at Powis helped me secure my dream job, where I shall continue to build on my skills and hopefully have more amazing opportunities. I shall endeavour to keep my blog going while at Hardwick, but I am afraid there will have to be a little hiatus while I get myself set up (and get my internet connected in my new place). Click here for the Hardwick Hall web page.
Anyway; more about what has been happening here at Powis. Last week was manic, we spent the whole week un-covering all the upstairs rooms ready for opening fully again on Friday 1st. Then we had to do all the little odd jobs to get the castle ship-shape; changing light bulbs, putting new batteries in room alarms and giving the whole place another dust. Considering the fact that we had just finished the deep winter clean in those rooms they were really dusty. However they did not seem to get a real rest this year, as we were still going up to the upper floor regularly and because we fell behind with the chimney sweeping unfortunately some rooms weren’t swept until after they had been winter cleaned. This meant that although the furniture was covered and stayed clean, the fixtures of the rooms got covered in dirt.
Once all the prep for opening was done you would have thought we could relax a little, but that was not so. Although the castle is now opening half an hour later than it did last year (12:30) we have a tour going round at 12. The tour take s a slightly different route than our usual visitor route; this means we have to open up for the tour, wait until after the tour and then alter the rooms to how they are presented for regular opening. Add to this our morning light readings, and the regular unexpected happening that always seem to crop up minutes before the doors are opened to the public and we end up running around like mad-people. I am sure that when the teams gets back into the swing of things it will all go much smoother than it has done the last couple of days, we are a bit out of practice.
The tour route is very exciting, it take people into some of the bedrooms that on regular opening they would only be able to view from the door. There is also a handling collection that we are using on the tour, and this is what I have been working the last few weeks. This project really appeals to my love textiles, and I got to go on a shopping trip to the fantastic vintage clothes shop in town. I have been sourcing props and millinery accessories online as well, my advice to anyone undertaking a similar project, Ebay is your friend! We found the same for our winter offer sourcing too.
Emma lent me some really special Edwardian magazines she has, with fashion articles and adverts in that I got some fantastic images for inspiration from.
From the fabulous Ashman’s Antiques we bought two pairs of gloves, one netted and one of shammy leather, an ostrich feather fan, a lace hankerchief and an amazing purple (my favourite colour) silk parasol. Mrs A did us a brilliant deal, but we still had a torturous decision to make from all the different items in her vast collection, but I am so pleased with the decision we made. I did end up doing some personal window shopping as well and had to pop back that weekend to buy a silver charm bracelet I had spotted perfect for my bestie; with a book charm (she works in a library), a football (she’s a Baggies supporter) and an elephant (she has the same strange attachment to them that I do to frogs). I do adore that shop!
I have loved working on this project, and will be sad not to be around to work on it some more, and see the hats in there completed state; but I am sure they will look stunning! I have a few other projects to put the final touches too and then this sunday is my last day at Powis. I can guarantee I won’t have much time to be sad as it is also the day of our Baroque Concert hosted by BBC Radio 3, a very exciting last day!