House Manager, Mottisfont
With six years’ experience working for the National Trust, conserving historic interiors and collections is something Sophie feels passionate about.
Despite having a BA in History, I left university not knowing what I wanted to do as a career. After a chance conversation with my aunt, who mentioned my love of museums and historic houses, I realised I’d found how I wanted to spend my time.
I volunteered in a couple of local museums before getting a summer job with English Heritage at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, the summer residence of Queen Victoria. This made me realise that I particularly love the challenges of caring for not only a collection but the building itself, too.
Having always enjoyed visiting the National Trust’s properties, I set my sights on working for them. Over the course of six years I went from Conservation Assistant at Petworth House, Conservation and Learning Assistant at Polesden Lacey, House Steward at Chartwell, Senior House Steward at Hanbury Hall, to finally House Manager at Mottisfont. I’ve done basically every rung on the ladder! It’s also inspired me to go back to university and I’m nearing the end of a distance-learning MA in Museum Studies.
As part of my role at Mottisfont I lead on the overall strategic vision for the house and am responsible for delivering special projects. At the moment I’m working on the conservation of the Whistler Room curtains, five pairs of enormous curtains that have elements hand-painted by the artist Rex Whistler. I’ve also worked on redisplaying our collection of twentieth-century paintings left to us by Derek Hill, an artist friend of the donor family.
Get to know a little more about Sophie…
Favourite thing to do at work? I really enjoy talking to visitors about our conservation work and getting them excited about what we do.
Favourite pest commonly found in historic properties? ‘Favourite’ might be overstating it but I do find booklice very interesting, partly because they’re so small and tricky to spot.
Favourite book? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – there’s a reason it’s a classic!
Favourite object at Mottisfont? Boy's Head by Edgar Degas, part of the Derek Hill collection.
Favourite tipple? I’m rather partial to a gin and tonic at the end of a long day…or a short one.