Monthly Archives: December 2011

‘Going crackers at Christmas…’

The opening act on the bill was the St Briavels People’s Choir and boy did they get a good turn out. The front door opened to a long line of people who made their way into the hall. And they kept on coming in! Even when the hall was full up with just enough of a gap to move through people were still coming in. At one point it felt like people were walking through going all the way round to the front door and walking in again! This was confirmed by a few visitors who had enjoyed it so much they did exactly that. What with ‘blue shoe’ bins constantly overflowing, wheelchair doors needing to be opened and our lovely house to keep an eye on, the time did go quickly. When the caffeine and adrenalin ran out we were running on pure Christmas spirit. After 1414 visitors, the doors finally closed around 3.20pm. It was a hectic day that was held together impeccably by the talents and general awesomeness of Katy who was a star during the whole weekend. ( No points for guessing who I might be asking for a job reference from! ) All that remained was to attempt a clean up so that no-one had thought there was a break-in or a bomb had gone off, when Monday morning came around.
And rest………..

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‘Keep calm and carry on…’


‘Wax on, wax off.. again..’

The most important thing was to make the house as presentable as possible so out came the vacuum cleaner. Next job was to attend to the Great Hall floor. This had taken quite a pounding the day before so a quick waxing was needed. The same principal as before, but on a bigger scale and in less time! When the time came to buff up the wax, I went for the ‘Fakir/Nilco’ polishing machine. This little fela has a set of pads on revolving discs so it does all the work for you. It does take a little while to get used to using it, and behaves a bit like a drunk donkey if you don’t have a firm grip. In no time at all the floor had that ‘Just out of the salon’ look. Next job for me was to open up the Church passage and to find the keys for the Church organ so that the bellows could be warmed up. It was great to hear that sound in an empty Church on a Sunday. As I made my way back to the house there was an eerie ‘calm before the storm’ feeling as Tim and myself waited with our volunteers in the West Hall.


‘Lovefood… LoveDyrham’

The Love Food festival and Market had been scheduled for the top reception car park as well as the Stables courtyard and also in the Tenants hall of the house and in the Victorian kitchen. As with Saturday, the Staff on duty in the house was myself, mentor Katy, and volunteer Tim Robey. As I parked up I spotted Property Manager Cath so I went and said hello, but quickly realised all was not well. She had managed to damage her ankle and had trouble walking. It was going to be one of those days! I barely had time to say ‘good morning’ to Katy before she had to dash off, but I tend to have that effect on women anyway…



‘Christmas with the Blathwayts’

A very ‘Victorian Christmas’ was planned as our seasonal theme for our open weekends on the run up to the end of the year. As the house was all tree’d up and ready to go, there just remained the running plan. We had a variety of choirs and musicians lined up to make use of the fabulous acoustics in the Great Hall. The first of the festive weekends had Margaret Jones on duty and judging by the note she had left in the office it had gone really well but was ‘a little hectic’.
So forewarned is forearmed. During the week between the open weekends we had the chance of fine tuning the house and route so we could better accommodate visitors and hopefully lessen the impact on our beloved house. We also had a visit from members of the V&A which was the first time we had to have the whole house open since we had closed. The winter cleaning schedule progresses, and we had covered all the furniture and moved all the ceramics into storage that are not in the rooms that are open.

So the day finally arrived and with our room guide volunteers dressed in period costume, including a butler for the door, we were ready(ish) for the public. It was a good indication of things to come as we looked out the window 5mins before we were due to open to see a que of visitors going from the front door all down the West Terrace to the steps, waiting to come in. It was a fairly calm, steady influx and all seemed to be in festive spirits. Having entered the house through the West door, the route then goes straight into the Great Hall, through the Dining room, Drawing room and out of the house to the Church via the normally closed off Church passage. At the end of the day a comfortable 744 had visited. Sunday was a slightly different story.


‘A Very Victorian Christmas..’