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. I have only gotten lost a couple of time! I really hit the ground running, finishing at Powis on the sunday of the concert and play, moving on monday and starting work at Hardwick tuesday. I don’t make things easy for myself. However I think jumping in feet first has helped me get my head around thing quickly, which was good because after two days at work I was flying solo doing the weekend routine. I am really pleased with how quickly I seem to be picking stuff up.
I am still getting my head around things like which curtains need opening when, it is different depending on whether we’re just opening at noon, or opening early either for tours (each of which require different routes to be prepped) or having a schools visit. We had a school in the other day and it was brilliant hearing them walk in through the Entrance Hall all ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs’. Hardwick really is a stunning property, so immense and grand. You can sense that Bess was incredibly proud of her house, and her achievements, as she should have been! She rose from a farmer’s daughter to be the second richest woman in the country, behind her good friend Queen Elizabeth.
I’m sure I will post more about Bess as I learn more about her life and her home. It really saddens me to leave Powis after I had gained enough knowledge about the place to take tours and feel confident answering questions in any of the rooms, however I know soon enough I will be able to do the same at Hardwick. I can’t wait to be able to tell people about Hardwick the way I could about both Greyfriar’s and Powis, I love talking to the public and it’s frustrating to think I couldn’t answer many questions asked of me at the moment. However I’ve got more of an advantage here, having visited several times when I was a girl and having read books on Bess’ life and the collection before coming here.
Moving to Hardwick has been good for my confidence in my knowledge of care of collections. Even in a different setting I can still look around a room and feel confident in what I am doing. Things are done slightly differently here, but a lot of that is due to the size difference. Hardwick is so much bigger even with two closed days a week the clean is not as in-depth everyday to enable the team to actually get it done in time for opening. This means there is more variety in the day-to-day routine within a week (more to get my head around!). The property is also so big that most weeks the team are also doing some winter clean. This is brilliant for me as I love the detailed winter clean work, and was sad when it came to an end at Powis. I’m really enjoying having been able to get stuck in with the routine, the winter clean, and some extra projects already!
Moving towns again was quite a job, and could have been very stressful where it not for the help and advice of the amazing people in my life – a huge thanks to you all. I do feel very nomadic at this stage in my life, but it’s nice not to be tied to anywhere, and to be able to move to wherever I want! Luckily for me working at Hardwick and moving to Chesterfield is a step closer to family than I was living in Wales. I like to think of myself as very independent but being closer has its perks, I am currently sitting on my mum’s sofa abusing her internet (mine still isn’t sorted yet). Living in Chesterfield is also going to be a big change, as it is a lot bigger than Welshpool, and having so many lovely shops nearby whilst being very convenient is going to be a test on my self-restraint. However since I will actually be receiving a wage now I should be able to treat myself every once in a while. I hear there is a lovely little fabric shop in the town centre that I must investigate!
It has felt really nice to join the team at Hardwick and to feel useful and competent in new surroundings, everyone has been so friendly and welcoming and I am already feeling very welcome and settled. There are some fantastically interesting and exciting events and projects on the horizon and I am very much looking forward to getting stuck in, gaining even more knowledge skills and experience in yet another wonderful Trust property! I know I will be missing Powis, as I still miss Greyfriar’s but once again I’ve been incredibly lucky and am looking forward to telling you all about life at Hardwick Hall!