Meet the conservation team at The Argory
Janet and Edith are our long serving Queens of clean (conservation assistants) at The Argory. Together they look after the conservation housekeeping and opening of the house to ensure that it is presentable to our visitors. Let’s find out a little bit more about them…
How long have you worked at The Argory?
E. I came to work at The Argory, 34 years ago but my family have been connected to the property for several generations. Among those who worked here were my grandmother, Mary-Anne Richardson who was a housemaid during the time of Captain Shelton. Her sister, Maggie Maguire, used to run the small ferry that crossed the River Blackwater before they built Bond’s Bridge. My Granddaughter is the latest generation to work at The Argory as a seasonal guide.
J. I have been here for 30 years, initially as a guide. I was asked in early 1990s if I would be interested in some extra hours helping Edith with the spring clean. In 1995 the job as conservation assistant was made permanent and I have been here part-time ever since.
Working here for so long you must have some great memories of The Argory over the years.
E. My daughter, Julie, had her wedding photographs taken here and guests came for tea, scones and a house tour before going to the reception. It was a very special day for lots of reasons but it was great to see the property become part of the life of the next generation.
J. About 10 years ago we decided we would open up the house and decorate it for Christmas, it is great to see the house transform every year and more and more visitors coming to see it.
What would you say is your favourite part of the job?
E. I really like the start of the season when the house opens up again after the winter, everything has been through a deep clean and covers have been removed. I also enjoy working on the cleaning of the acetylene light fittings because you get to see a really good before and after.
J. I enjoy working with textiles. Winter is my favourite time of year because we spend more time working in each of the rooms and doing a deep clean. We also make dust covers to protect the collection.
Do you have a favourite room in the house or item in the collection?
E. The Dining Room. I like the family portraits around the walls of each generation. The tea caddy is my favourite item; visitors are always surprised at how tea would have been so expensive and kept under lock and key.
J. Lady Bond’s Bedroom. It is filled with her personal items including some of her costume. My favourite item of the collection however is the pastel still life by Berth Art in the Drawing Room. I paint flowers myself and the detail is really good. It would look well hanging on the wall in my own house!
We get around 30,000 visitors every year to the Argory. What do you think the public enjoy the most when they visit?
E. The house. It is filled with a complete collection that belonged to the family that lived here. So many of these big houses were lost and those that survived are often empty.
J. Visitors like all different areas but I think they like to imagine, a way of life that is no more.
Special thanks to Edith and Janet for sharing their fond memories and to Matthew Morrison for putting this together.