Storytelling and Shenanigans

Volunteering at Ickworth Wendy

Wendy, Ickworth Room Storyteller tells us about the time she got stuck in a bean bag and the time she saw Mrs Sangster's ghost in the kitchen.

I had visited Ickworth on a few occasions and had always thought it was the most beautiful and awe inspiring house, so when I retired and wanted to do some voluntary work, it was a no brainer that I applied there. When I enquired about volunteering, I met some of the team and they really added to my excitement over the prospect of spending time at Ickworth.

They asked me where I would like to volunteer and, as being amongst history and art is, to me, like putting a kiddy in a sweet shop, I had to be a room storyteller.

Each room is special, but my favourite has to be the library, with its gorgeous green furnishings and cosy feeling. It was in the library that my most embarrassing moment occurred, when, trying to explain the idea of bean bags in the House to the visitors (even though I was equally unconvinced.) I sat in one to chat to some people, then of course couldn’t get out! The sight of a late middle aged woman being hauled from a bean bag by a kind visitor was not exactly elegant!

My other strange experience was when the ghost of Mrs Sangster (I think) caught up with me in the kitchen. I wasn’t frightened at all, but maybe she thought I was there to steal her recipes; I was looking at them at the time after all.

As a volunteer, there are many “perks”, but one of the best had to be the chance to go behind the scenes and see the storage and “backstage” areas. I couldn’t believe how much was in storage and not on display: pictures, china and glass, furniture; it went on and on. I was glad that, after our tour, the beautiful picture of a young Theodora has come out of hiding and into the Dressing Room.

I have often said that I find Ickworth to be “good for the soul”, which is why, even when I’m not volunteering, I can be found walking my dog in the grounds or volunteering for other things than room storytelling, just to absorb the atmosphere. My favourite time is when the house is almost empty and I am one of the last people there; after five years, I still love it. And, by the way, I’ve fallen totally in love with Frederick, first Marquess, who I think was a totally good guy. Thanks for finishing the house Frederick, so that I can spend such happy times there!

Wendy Knipe, 2017