Celebrating Knole volunteers in June 2022 (Volunteers' week)
A selection of National Trust volunteer contributions since the 1950s
compiled by Veronica Walker-Smith
Apart from guides in the showrooms, Knole’s volunteer roles are many and diverse: outdoors in the Park as Deer Rangers, members of the Archaeology team currently carefully uncovering a historic cobbled pathway; Welcomers greeting visitors in the courtyards; Tour Guides in the Knole Attics and on Past to Present tours; Premises volunteers all across the property in a multitude of roles; helping in the Knole Business Support Office and Bookshop.
The list is continuing to grow! Here is a small selection of Knole volunteer stories: [ click on the names in bold to go directly to each story ]
After being a paid showroom guide at Knole in 1957, Sevenoaks resident Judy Raschen subsequently volunteered as a guide in the 1970s, using her knowledge of Knole’s history and collections to interact with visitors.
From 1974 to 1987, needlewomen Jenny Wright and Ethelwyn Osborne volunteered to conserve one of Knole’s three great state beds, the King’s Bed. They spent at least one day a week over 13 years, under the supervision of a professional textile conservator (first, Philippa Lawrence, then Annabel Wylie) carefully stitching and couching precious silver-gilt and silver threads onto the bed’s curtains and coverlet, following an intricate pattern of lilies and honeysuckle.
Cynthia Hurrell was also a member of the core group of about 60 volunteer needlewomen, who stitched away over the 13-year period. There were about 200 volunteers in total, a huge effort unlikely to be repeated on such an historic bed.
Knole’s longest-serving volunteer, chalking up 47 years and counting, retired teacher Clare Fallows continues to love story-telling and interacting with visitors and fellow volunteers at Knole.
Knole’s Oral History team started in 2011, led by then House and Collections Manager, Helen Fawbert. Daphne Eatwell and Christine Nevard MBE, were part of the pioneer group. They enjoyed interviewing people from all walks of life who had connections to Knole. The team continues to work on increasing the Knole oral history archive, the largest such archive within the National Trust
During the Inspired by Knole Project, 2013 – 2019, volunteers Brenda Jarvis and Jim Parker made a discovery that links the 21st century to a 1906 ‘message in a bottle’. They are part of the Knole Archaeology volunteer team, contributing in many roles since 2014.
Throughout the Inspired by Knole project, Premises volunteers Alan Bishop and David Noon enjoyed using their woodworking skills to create, among other objects, a fine glass vitrine for displaying an Earl’s coronet, and a large outdoor table, inspired by Knole’s 17th century oak long table in the Great Hall.