Meet Chloe Woodrow, Assistant House Manager

You may meet Chloe at conservation days at Ickworth © Emma Louise Oram

You may meet Chloe at conservation days at Ickworth

We chatted to Chloe Woodrow who is Ickworth’s Assistant House Manager, about working and living in this wonderful stately home in the heart of Suffolk. Talking about her first day, she says, ‘When I arrived at Ickworth it felt like home – it felt right’. Three years on, and she says no two days have been the same – one minute she could be helping to restore an antique chandelier, the next dealing with the less glamorous task of fixing a leaking roof. Here she tell us what it’s like behind the scenes at one of the East of England’s most iconic and best-loved houses.

How did you get into this line of work?
I came fresh out of university after doing a degree in art history and archaeology. I’d already volunteered at Blickling Hall in Norfolk for a year. It was a good insight into how a house runs and volunteering is a really useful way of gaining knowledge and meeting people as well. This job came up just as I was leaving university. I’ve always had an interest in history, though, and spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a child visiting museums and heritage sites.

Talk us through a typical day in your life – if there is such a thing?
I would say there isn’t mainly because this job isn’t typical – something unexpected always happens. A core part of my job is working with volunteers on a day-to-day basis. I and two other key members of staff take it in turns to be manager for the day. We welcome the volunteers in and give them any information they need for the day. The volunteers kept me going when I first started. They are really knowledgeable – some have been here for nearly 20 years. They have taught me so much over the years.

The second part of my job is conservation. Basically we make sure the house is being cared for in the best possible way – we’re looking after a building for the future. For example, we have to check how much light is in the house and what the humidity levels are and to keep the balance so the collections are safe.

I also work with the regional conservator on big projects. This winter, for example, we had one of our chandeliers cleaned for the first time in a number of years.

What is the best thing about your job?
The people and the team of volunteers. They want to be at Ickworth, not just to volunteer for the National Trust. I’ve always seen the volunteers as my extended family, and you get to know about what’s going on in their lives, about their grandchildren, for example. There’s a lot of energy here and everyone’s really passionate about what we do.

Tell us about your most memorable moments at Ickworth
There have been quite a few! One day it was absolutely pouring with rain and a water leak went through the roof onto some of the objects below. Then the fire alarm went off. While I was running around frantically phoning the fire brigade to tell them not to come, everyone had quite calmly congregated in the hall and were happily chatting away. It’s an image I’ve never forgotten.