Friday, 4 October 2013

The out of season job list!

A damp and drizzly day but through the office window I can see the gardeners are hard at work. Some jobs have to wait till the season is closed so we don't cause any disruption to people's visits and we keep them safe on site. So the chain saw buzzed into life this morning and David started working on the lower branches of several trees that overhang the driveway. It's amazing what a difference it has made when driving into the estate and looking out I can see the trees changing colour down the drive.

The season closed here at Renishaw last weekend and we couldn't have wished for a better week to finish on. The sun shone on us as we welcomed guests for Macmillian coffee morning held in the hall. After much coffee and cake was consumed  we raised a grand total of £324.10 for Macmillian. A big thank you to all the volunteers and guides who helped out on the day.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Autumn morning at Renishaw Hall

September mornings in the gardens can be beautiful and today certainly was. As I wandered around taking photos trying to capture the moment I only wish you could capture the sparkling dew on the lawns, the fresh crisp autumn air and the sounds as the garden comes to life for the day!

It's the second to last tours of the season today and we are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays on our side.

I never know what the day is going to bring when I arrive here in the morning. On Wednesday I enjoyed an unexpected walk to the end of the drive to help a nervous coach driver ( driving a very shiny new coach) turn into the drive and bring his party safely to the hall. We were also able to help a couple who were on holiday in the area and hadn't realised the hall wasn't open except on  Fridays tours. The NHS Retirement Fellowship very kindly agreed to let the couple join their private tour.

Later this afternoon I will be visiting Eckington church where Eckington Heritage Day is being set up. With the help of the archivist I have a display about Renishaw Hall to add to the event.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Blooming borders

Blooming Borders
 As we head into September I am looking back at the summer months and wondering where they diasappeared to. Since joining the team in June as the administrator here it has been a hectic but enjoyable few months.

I have met many of our lovely visitors this season and enjoyed welcoming them to Renishaw Hall and Gardens. I have walked round and photographed the gardens often catching up with David Kesteven to learn a little more about the gardens. His knowledge is extensive and I often find him sharing plant names and tips with the visitors.

One of my favourite things has been learning about Alexandra's family home. Working with the guides and volunteers who can tell you all sorts of stories about Renishaw Hall though some should be taken with a pinch of salt!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Renishaw Under The Spotlight

Well now, where did the first two months of the season go? It’s hard to believe just how quickly those weeks have passed. And yet at the same time it feels like many years ago since we opened the gates at the start of the season.

Our season began under the spotlight literally as Renishaw Hall and gardens were filmed for ITV’s Country House Sunday. A team of television producers, researchers, script writers and presenters arrived en masse complete with numerous bags, boxes, camera equipment and miles of wiring as they captured life at Renishaw on film.

We had an amazing time during filming, managing to juggle sneaky moments watching the editing process whilst also preparing the museum exhibition and gardens for the arrival of visitors. 
It was quite a challenge but one that we relished. After the quieter winter months when the place was closed to the public, it was great to see so many people back in the Hall and welcome visitors back to the gardens again.

And after that the place became a flurry of activity, which so far hasn’t stopped. We’ve had our spring food & craft fair with vineyard tours and food tasting which brought people up to Renishaw in their droves. The following day hundreds flocked to the famed plant fair. We’re now busy preparing for the Classic Car Rally, which takes place on Wednesday 12th June. It never stops….

To get a taste of life at Renishaw Hall then check out the latest episode of ITV’s Country House Sunday this Sunday (26th May) at 8.30am (or ITV+1 at 9.30am).

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Admiring the gardens at Renishaw

You could be forgiven for thinking that the winter is a quiet time for us. You might even imagine that we sit around drinking copious amounts of tea while admiring the gardens from indoors - if only, haha!

It’s actually the time when we take stock and get ourselves organised. It’s when we carry out vital maintenance work and plan the next year. The garden team are out there in all weathers planning the planting for the year, repairing paths and fencing, carrying out hard landscaping projects and planting.

Meanwhile, the hall and stableblock buildings get a little tlc as repair work is carried out. Keeping the historic buildings in good condition is a challenge and so the winter allows us to address some of the work that can’t be done when we’re open to the public.

The museum has also had its annual lick of paint and our historians are now working in there, adding new displays and exhibits in time for opening next month.

With just a hint of spring in the air, the countdown begins until we open in March. It’s busy, busy, busy… But sometime before then hopefully there may be the odd moment for us to enjoy the occasional cup of tea and sit back and admire the gardens!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Every Day is Unique at Renishaw

There’s no such thing as a typical day here at Renishaw Hall. Honestly, no two days are ever the same.

Take the last few weeks, for example. To start with the snow set us a fair few challenges. While most of us faced the hassle of clearing our drives of snow to get out and about, spare a thought for our estate team. They not only had to clear the estate roads and pathways of ice and snow every time we had a snowfall but also took to the hall roof in temperatures well below freezing to keep the roof free of the heavy white stuff. Snow, you see, left for too long on the roof can make a large amount of damage to the fabric of the 400-year-old historic building…. so it had to be moved pretty quickly.

Over the past month we’ve also hosted a film crew from the television show, Flog It Trade Secrets, and we eagerly await the end result. We’ve also been visited by a BBC news team. And in the meantime, while all this goes on our day to day work continues. With less than two months now before we re-open again for the season we’re pretty busy taking bookings and getting everything back in place.  The gardeners, meanwhile, are working hard to keep the garden in shape and are adding a few changes that are set to inspire us in the spring.

We’re also working hard to put together new displays in our museum and adding new exhibits for the new season. This year the Sitwell Museum will house yet more documents, letters and photographs all providing a real insight into the interesting world of the Sitwell trio, Osbert, Edith and Sacheverell. The siblings, of course, were famed for their writing in the early part of the 20th century and played a huge part in the artistic and literary circle.

You’ll perhaps not be surprised that, as well as their numerous published books and poems, they were also prolific letter writers. As our archivist continues to make her way through reams of letters, documents and photographs, there are regular discoveries of new information about the trio and their life as well as other pieces of material to help us fill in the gaps in Renishaw’s long history. We’ve found it both amazing and interesting and so some of that information will find its way into the museum and we hope to share some of it within our new literary tours too. The new findings are almost a daily occurrence, but as we keep saying no two days at Renishaw are ever the same.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Frosty start to the New Year

With a fall of snow over the gardens at Renishaw it's hard to believe that just last week the gardens were basking in sunshine and showing the first signs of spring. The first snowdrops and crocuses had made their appearance as had, oddly, the first bees of the year.

After a busy winter we had begun to dare to think of the long, lighter days of summer and we were beginning to get excited about the season ahead. We're really looking forward to introducing new tours of the hall, where we'll be revealing new facts about its history, and we’re in the midst of planning the summer activities. Above all though we can't wait to fling open the garden gates once again to visitors.

In the meantime, there's still lots to do behind the scenes as we prepare for spring. Our team is cataloguing the library collection, all the time revealing new and interesting details about the history of the hall. Our archivist, meanwhile, continues to delve through old photographs and reams of paperwork and we’re settling nicely into our new offices at the back of the hall. The offices are perfectly placed near the garden entrance and, at the moment, it’s hard not to keep staring out onto the beautiful wintry scene.