Volunteering in very special places
What inspired Louise Prideaux to volunteer? As a child she was captivated by the history of National Trust properties – now as an adult she relives forgotten eras in her history reenactment role at Killerton.
A special invitation
Some of my happiest childhood memories involve walks around National Trust properties. Far from being dragged by my parents, these were places where I could be swept along by far-away stories and carried off to forgotten eras.
I think I instinctively knew that I was being invited into stories of the past, present, and future, and that I could play my part in shaping some our country’s most beautiful landscapes. As a child, that invitation captured me; as an adult, that invitation led me to volunteering.
A special privilege
Even at a young age I understood that these places were special - that the National Trust was about more than just tea, cake, and very old paintings. I grew up imbibing the value of protecting open spaces and historic properties for the common good.
Enjoyment of the special places in our country is a privilege that we are invited to participate in. Yet there is a sense in which this privilege is made even more meaningful when one is able to participate through volunteering.
A special choice
The South West boasts more than 35% of the nation’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of this landscape is owned, managed, and cared for by the National Trust. Killerton lies just north of Exeter in a part of Devon easily lost between the two Moors.
I discovered the 18th century mansion nearly nine years ago when my mother moved to Exmouth and naturally the place holds many precious memories for me. So when, eighteen months ago, the property advertised for volunteers to join their education team I felt naturally drawn to apply. In many ways Killerton chose me.
A special spirit
Last Autumn I had the privilege of playing the character of Lady Anne Acland who, with her husband Sir Richard Acland, handed Killerton over to the National Trust in 1944. The script, written by Learning Officer Eileen Dillon, demonstrated the passion felt by Lady Anne for Killerton.
This opportunity enabled me to catch a glimpse of the elusive ‘spirit of place’ that is a current priority for Trust properties. Part of that spirit is the legacy of love and zeal for the land that seems to infuse every acre on the estate.
Wherever we volunteer, it is the stories and the artefacts, the festivals and children’s activities, the exhibitions and environmental projects, and so much more, that inspire us. As with every property, Killerton is more than the sum of its parts; it is simply a very special place.