Who are you and why do you like Upton House and Gardens?
I am Kate and I love being part of the friendly Upton team, sharing the fascinating history of this house, and the family who lived in it, with visitors from all over the world. It is a huge privilege to be able to come here regularly, to get to know the elegant rooms and the unique collection; and, at the end of each volunteering day, to see the shadows lengthen over the empty lawn to the peaceful countryside beyond.
What is your role here?
I work as a room guide and in each volunteering session I look after two different rooms, welcoming the visitors, hearing of their interests in Upton house and the Bearstead family and drawing their attention to the room’s special features. Every room contains items from the house’s fantastic collection of painting, porcelain and furniture and it is often surprising to see which items connect with a visitor’s particular interest. Last time I volunteered, a visitor was intrigued by the horses in the Stubbes paintings because of his knowledge of historic breeds; another visitor was able to identify some of the guests listed in the archive menu book that was displayed in the dining room; and visitors to the special exhibition of Shell posters often had fond memories of using the Shell guides for touring the country during their childhood. The Upton house research teams have provided detailed information about every aspect of the collection and the visitors bring it alive again with their memories.
What does the future involve at Upton?
The great appeal of Upton House is that there is always a new project being developed and a new way of presenting the house and the family. I am very much looking forward to learning more about the way the team will present the changes made to the house when the family’s merchant bank was evacuated there during the war. All the volunteers have the opportunity to take on new tasks, researching the history, designing the new rooms and one especially skilled volunteer is even making 1940s clothes for the staff. We room guides will have new stories to tell the visitors and the chance to hear the often moving stories that they will share with us.
Volunteering at Upton
If you would like to join the Upton volunteering team, do come to the Volunteer recruitment weekend on the 27th and 28th of September. Both days the team will be in the Old Kitchen, 11-4, so you can pop in for a chat to find out more and have a look round over a cup of tea. Whether you are a room guide, a gardener or would love to help welcome our visitors around the site, you will find an enthralling role in this lovely house and gardens.