Bringing history to life through volunteering

Carlos Soares in the garden of Nuffield Place

Carlos Soares told the National Trust Magazine how volunteering at Nuffield Place the former home of car manufacturer William Morris, has allowed him to improve his English, and pursue his love of history and caring for fascinating objects.

When I moved to the UK three years ago, I didn’t know many people and didn’t feel confident using the language. I spent a lot of time trying to understand the culture and improve my English.

I saw that Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire, was looking for volunteers I thought it would be the perfect way to understand more about British culture as I love history and interior design.

I volunteer every week as part of the house conservation team, helping to clean the house and look after the objects so visitors can enjoy them. It’s very special to be in the house
before visitors arrive because you feel a part of it.

The house at Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire with a blue vintage car in front of it
Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire
The house at Nuffield Place, Oxfordshire with a blue vintage car in front of it

During opening hours, I work as a tour guide and explain the history of the house and what we do to preserve it. What I enjoy most about it is the chance to make history real. It’s so important to look after the objects in the house because they show how life has changed. 

" We can tell new generations about history through the objects we look after."
- Carlos Soares

I tell children about the old telephone, for example, and how you’d have to wait for a line and sometimes need an operator.

The telephone at Nuffield Place
Telephone at Nuffield Place
The telephone at Nuffield Place

People often share their experiences with me, too – how they used the objects and where they’ve seen them before.

Every visitor has different questions and accents and I have to reply quickly, which has helped improve my English as well as my knowledge about the history of the house.

This article was first published in the National Trust Autumn Magazine 2017.

The tool cabinet in Lord Nuffield's bedroom

The history of Nuffield Place and its famous owner

A glimpse into the recent past and the life of one of Britain's most successful businessmen and car manufacturers - Lord Nuffield.

A costumed volunteer chats with visitors

Find a volunteer opportunity 

Making friends, learning new skills, protecting the environment and working in stunning settings are just some of the reasons people volunteer with the National Trust. Explore volunteering opportunities at our places.