I joined the National Trust in August 2014 as House and Collections Manager at Clandon Park. My responsibilities involved ensuring that the contents and fabric of the house were cared for appropriately and overseeing the smooth operation of the house when we were open to the public. All of this with the help of a wonderful group of staff and volunteers.
Prior to joining the Trust I’d worked for museums both in the UK and New Zealand. I was especially attracted to working at Clandon due to the 4th Earl of Onslow’s connection to New Zealand and Hinemihi, the Maori Meeting House situated in our grounds.
I’d been in post for just seven months when the fire struck and I was on duty at the time. That whole night is a blur. Having evacuated everyone from the building our focus was on salvaging as many items as possible. We were able to rely on our training, which was thankfully so well-rehearsed that it’d become second nature. It was only in the aftermath, days and months later, that I was able to reflect on what actually happened. I’m incredibly grateful to the team who helped to safely escort visitors from the building and the staff from other National Trust properties who immediately rushed to our aid. The Surrey Fire and Rescue Service were truly amazing.
Since then my role has changed in many ways and instead of running the house I was responsible for the smooth running of our salvage village. Our teams day-to-day life now consisted of cleaning and processing items that have been salvaged from the debris, before documenting them and taking them to an off-site store. Incredible items including elements of the State Bed and pieces of the Marble Hall ceiling have all passed through our hands on their way to further conservation or storage.