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Volunteering at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Two women arrange freshly cut flowers from the garden in lots of glass vases for the tables in the restaurant at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
Freshly cut flowers from the garden, are arranged for the restaurant at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent | © National Trust Images/Penny Tweedie

There are plenty of ways to join in with us here at Sissinghurst Castle Garden. Help us conserve this special place forever, for everyone; volunteer with us in our historic buildings, in the vegetable garden, on our estate or in the busy kitchen.

Room guides at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

We’re looking for enthusiastic volunteers to help visitors feel welcome and immersed in our story. If you’ve got great people skills you could make a big difference to our visitors.

What’s involved?

The role will involve looking after the garden gate, South Cottage (garden room, sitting room and upstairs) and the tower, and could also involve covering breaks in all those areas. It’s likely you’ll be in more than one place during your day.

This role will suit you if you enjoy talking to groups of visitors of all ages, answering questions and adapting your knowledge to their interests.

You’ll put the visitor at the heart of everything you do and enjoy learning just as much as sharing your knowledge and working with others.

You’d need to be available on a regular basis. The role will be based inside, but flexibility may be required to assist with delivering a really good visitor experience.

Other volunteering roles at Sissinghurts Castle Garden

Get green fingers on the veg plot

Join our team of fun and active volunteers, growing, tending and sharing stories.

Share stories

Share all of our stories about the rich history of Sissinghurst as a storyteller guide.

Help in our busy office

If organising is your thing, come and join our team of volunteer administrators in our office.

A woman and man laugh on a tour of South Cottage at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
On a tour of South Cottage at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Why join us?

There are lots of reasons to join us; making the move to volunteer could be the best decision you ever make.

  • Become part of a friendly and dedicated team
  • Meet people from all walks of life and forge new friendships
  • Utilise your existing skills and learn new ones
  • Strengthen your CV and help to develop your career
  • Enjoy the great outdoors
  • Learn about the history of this special place.

Volunteers’ experiences, in their own words

One of our volunteers says:

‘I’ve been a volunteer at Sissinghurst since the summer of 2009; a relatively short time in comparison to many of the volunteers who have been coming for much longer.

‘I had visited Sissinghurst Castle many times and always enjoyed its atmosphere and the beauty of its garden. Because it’s so famous as a garden I assumed that there would be no shortage of volunteers and a prospective one would need to have a gardening or historical background. I was very pleasantly surprised that neither of these attributes were needed but enthusiasm and a willingness to learn was essential.

‘I quickly found that the volunteers at Sissinghurst Castle are a friendly and helpful lot and I soon learned about the garden, the castle and their history. I work as a steward in the library and the tower, with strolls around the garden from time to time. This year, however, I started on an exciting new venture with five other volunteer colleagues: giving introductory talks to visitors before they go into the garden.’

Two volunteers work at desks, heads bent over their work, conserving books, in South Cottage, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent
Concentration and conservation: conserving books, in South Cottage, Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent | © National Trust Images/H Broughton

Read Clare Saxby’s experience of being a ranger volunteer:

‘After two decades writing for film and television in London, I moved with my family to Kent. Sissinghurst quickly became my favourite woodland walk with my dog Biscuit, and we would often stop to watch the rangers working in all weathers. Inspired to write about a fictional ranger, I emailed Sissinghurst about volunteering and in no time had signed up to work one morning a week on the estate.

‘Head Ranger Peter Dear has worked for the National Trust since he was 16, starting out at Scotney then moving to Sissinghurst. He is a walking encyclopaedia of the flora and fauna of Kent and has a particular passion for the moths and dragonflies that now thrive on the estate under his care.

‘Ranger Paul Freshwater worked for many years in the City, but would spend his spare time on walking holidays far removed from the urban grind. Several years ago he decided to change career and completed a degree in Countryside Management at Hadlow College, after which he was snapped up by Sissinghurst to spend his days outdoors.

‘Over the months, with Pete and Paul's guidance, I have learned an astonishing amount about the fascinating and very physical work that goes into conserving ancient woodland. Those four hours on a Wednesday morning have proved immensely satisfying (if often exhausting!) and the highlight of my week.

‘One of the Ranger team’s most important jobs is to ensure the safety of the thousands of visitors who enjoy Sissinghurst’s beautiful walks all year round. The 460-acre estate, consisting of fields, meadows and woodland, is patrolled regularly and if a tree is found leaning dangerously over a path or road due to high winds, age or disease, Pete, Paul and the volunteers act immediately to secure it.

‘Recently Pete spotted a precarious goat willow leaning over Digdog Lane at the northern edge of the estate and the team went into action. Paul had to fell the tree for health and safety reasons, but explained that no part of it goes to waste.

‘Logs from the trunk will be seasoned and used for firewood and the thinner branches are bundled tightly into faggots, using Pete’s ingenious homemade tool constructed of two sticks and some string!

‘The faggots then came in very handy for lining the edges of the lakes and preventing bank erosion by enthusiastic dogs keen for a dip. That said, dog walkers are welcome to let their animals swim from the designated dog launch, on the lower lake.’

More volunteer stories

Take a look to find out why these volunteers love working here at Sissinghurst.

Play the video Volunteering at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

Want to join us?

Send us an email to find out more.

For more information on volunteering, or to apply, please visit our volunteering website here.

Thank you

Thank you to all our volunteers who give their time to support the National Trust in many different roles.

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