A service fit for a king
Sutton Hoo’s Retail Manager, Samantha Golding, is always looking to find new and innovative ways of sharing the site’s inspiring tales with visitors through a thoughtful product range and service fit for a king.
How did you find yourself at Sutton Hoo?
I remember the exact date I joined the team - it was 25th February 2002! My family have always been ‘National Trust people’ so when I moved to the area from Cambridge, it seemed like a natural decision to work here.
In Cambridge I had been a riding instructor and dabbled with a bit of retail. The National Trust took a chance on me, and here I am, nearly two decades later.
What does your work as Retail Manager involve?
My aim is to find new ways of making our visitors say ‘wow, I didn’t expect that’ and helping them to feel inspired by the stories here. I’m always looking to reflect the original and special nature of Sutton Hoo in our products and to bring the story of the royal burial to life.
Each day my team looks to add something extra to our visitors’ experience - we love creating personal memories and special moments for our guests.
How have you been preparing for the site’s re-opening?
We’ve spent time building relationships with local suppliers and artisans. It’s been wonderful to play with new product ideas inspired by the exquisite Anglo-Saxon treasures discovered in the Great Ship Burial and the natural landscape that surrounds it.
We’ve also found new ways of supporting our suppliers, helping them to build even more sustainable businesses through their relationship with us, which is really gratifying.
What most captivates you about the Sutton Hoo story?
The people – the ones that live here now, the ones that were here in Anglo-Saxon times and
everyone in between! It’s amazing to learn about all of the lives that have unfolded
here since the incredible discoveries back in 1939, whether that be through new research, or a story told by a visitor. Recently a gentleman visitor shared with us that his grandfather was a chauffeur for Edith Pretty, the lady who lived at Tranmer House and commissioned the 1939
excavation - I find these human stories fascinating.
Which of the site’s new features are you most excited to share with visitors?
From day one, when I was very first here, the courtyard was built to house a ship and 17 years later, we now have a full scale sculpture of the find here at Sutton Hoo.
It’ll be a wonderful focal point for the site and a really impactful and thought
provoking start to our visitors’ journeys around Sutton Hoo.
Could you share a personal highlight during your time at Sutton Hoo
The thing that is most special to me about Sutton Hoo is its incredible atmosphere. There is comfort to be found in its deep sense of history and I have a few special places across the site that I will go to sit and reflect, particularly during tough times in life. Thinking about all the different people who have come and gone, and the experiences they’ve had here, creates a real sense of sanctuary.