Richard Wakeford was the National Trust’s ‘administrator’, or manager, at Knole for most of the 1980s, where he oversaw many changes in these early years of Trust stewardship.
Knole's property manager for the National Trust in the 1980s
Interviewed by Marcia Barton
Miss Morley's teas
Miss Morley had been the housekeeper and when I arrived on the scene she provided fabulous teas in her kitchen, which is now part of the shop I think. She provided these for room stewards and guides. So I made myself very unpopular by putting a stop to that! Because the rooms and galleries were completely bereft of stewards and left unattended while the long tea-break went on! It wasn’t a popular move but nevertheless it was very necessary.
Remembering 200 names
R.W.: Shall I tell you a little secret?
R.W.: Because only about sixty thousand people will listen to it I expect… Because of the number of volunteers we had, possibly up to about 200, 250, something like that, they were constantly changing. So I devised a little scheme with Ann Smith to produce a small piece of paper which I could hold in my hand telling me who would be in a certain spot within the house in the morning or in the afternoon as the shifts changed, so that I was always able to greet people by their names when I was walking round the house, which I tried to do a couple of times a day if possible. And naturally people were quite flattered especially if they’d only been there once about six months before or something like that, and I’d remembered their name and so forth. I earnt a reputation which was not really deserved! But it worked well enough.