Passport to my future

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Firstly I should introduce myself. I’m Hannah Chandler and I am working at Arlington Court for a year as part of the National Trust's Passport to Your Future training scheme in House and Collections Management.

I have now been at Arlington for three months working both in the House and the Carriage Museum. This means one day I can be handling a silk-brocaded jacket from the 1750s and the next cleaning carriages. It is this variation that I love the most about my job; I never quite know what the day will bring.

Extraordinary experiences

I have done too much to list since I arrived but highlights so far have included opening a box in the textiles store to find a costume featured in a painting in the Explorer room, worn by Caroline Chichester in winter 1789. Another high point was raising the carriages (which I normally only get to clean gently with a brush) on hydraulic jacks when the wheelwright came to teach us how to turn the wheels to prevent too much strain being placed on the same areas.

Cataloguing collections

This month I have been working on the inventory of our textiles collection which has recently been brought together into a new conservation store. What seemed a relatively simple task has taken me over two months of checking boxes against old inventories and the new computer system. Each mystery I solved seemed to create five more but I stuck the labels on the final box last week. Phase two, the re-pack, begins later this week.

Keeping it in the family

I have also this month been researching the property to create a children’s tour and have enlisted the help of my children, William and Lottie, to give me a ‘kid's eye’ view of the property. I'm hoping their experiences will help me create a really kid-friendly trail, which will work for a large age range. This has been very helpful but has cost me a lot in cake.

Thoughts for the future

At the end of my training I hope to stay working for the Trust, perhaps in conservation. Alternatively through my work checking the contents of 117 boxes of textiles I have also discovered a liking for inventory work, so I may choose to go down that route. I am at Arlington for another nine months and, at the rate things have been going, that time will fly by which is a shame as I love it here. In the immediate future I have the winter to look forward to. The team have warned me that December and January can be a strange time, with no visitors and cold temperatures to compete with. But it's another challenge I'm looking forward to embracing.