This year you can be more than just a visitor to Knebworth House, Park & Gardens, join the team in 2019 as a member of the seasonal staff. To gain a deeper understanding of what it is like to work in the House, some of the experienced House Guides told us about their experiences.
What is your career background?
“Until retiring, I worked as a teacher and enjoyed passing on knowledge, skills and experiences to children. Once retired I needed to stay active and working at Knebworth House as both a House guide and working with School Groups kept up my contact with children, and when acting as a guide allowed me to meet people of all ages and from all over the World. The joys of teaching, without the paperwork…bliss.” – Roy Falder
Why were you looking for seasonal work?
“Since retiring from a civil servant job in 2000, I had been hoping to be somehow active without turning the activity into another job. A guiding job seemed ideal, as you can choose in advance how many days you want to work and the hours are not long.” – Paola Killinen.
Why did you decide to work at Knebworth House, Park & Gardens?
“History has always been my first love and in my holidays and weekends I used to explore historic places within the UK and Europe. Now that I am retired, I did not feel as if sitting down and watching daytime television was for me. Working part time in the spring/summer at Knebworth is ideal for me as it keeps me occupied for part of the week, but also leaves me time to carry on with other activities. Being able to work in an historic building was an opportunity not to be missed and it is a great privilege.” – Andrew Wang
What is your role?
“I have several roles at Knebworth. I do a lot of education work, mainly doing Tudor and Victorian themed tours. I also help with some of the other educational programmes. When the education work finishes in mid-July, I do adult tours guiding day visitors and groups around the house. Doing the ghost tours is where I have most fun. In the autumn and winter there is some television and film work.” – Andrew Wang
What were your first impressions?
“My first impression was the utmost friendliness and welcoming warmth of not only the people in charge of running the House in the Estate Office, but also everyone in the seasonal team – it felt very easy to fit in. The House is big and the Lytton family history is as complex as it is fascinating, taking you deep into the history of England since the Tudor times, so it did feel a bit daunting in the beginning. The staff are given detailed information on the House and its history, and there are several interesting books – many written by family members – available to familiarise oneself with the ups and downs of the House and its inhabitants since the purchase of Knebworth in 1490!” – Paola Killinen
Describe a “typical day” working here.
“No two groups are the same. Groups can be as few as two or up to twenty-five strong. They may be family groups with young children or a group of historical experts… or a mixture of the two! The skill of the guide is to keep them all interested and happy. Thus, tours can be slanted in different ways depending on the group and the House contents are so varied that it is possible to show connections to the visitors from abroad.
With School Groups, it is necessary to set up all the props before the visit and then change into costume of a Tudor House steward or a Victorian servant. The sessions with the children must be educational but also fun with lots of laughter as the pupils get involved with music, toys, clothes and life in the House of that time period. The sessions need to be adapted for all age groups, abilities and needs.” – Roy Falder
What challenges have you faced in your role?
“My first day – Good Friday – ended with some of us sitting on the floor of one of the upstairs bedrooms trying to fabricate makeshift sealant to a damaged window until it would be properly repaired after Easter! So, you never quite know what you end up doing on a “typical” day.” – Paola Killinen.
What is the best part of your job?
“Inspiring people of all ages is what I enjoy most at Knebworth. As a retired teacher, it is especially satisfying when you have a truculent child being taken around another ‘boring’ house and then watch them become inspired as you tell stories and point out interesting objects. It’s also good to see adults enjoying their tours and making them realise is not just ‘another stately home’, but has made a unique contribution to many areas of British history.” – Andrew Wang
What advice would you give others considering working at Knebworth House, Park & Gardens?
“Working at Knebworth gives you a chance to work with a dedicated team of people who share a passion for bringing the house alive to visitors of all ages. There are many areas in which you can get involved. You don’t have to know a lot about history, art or gardens. Excellent training will be given and you may discover that you have hidden talents. If you like people and want them to have an enjoyable time in one of England’s great houses and gardens then you will find working at Knebworth a real pleasure.” – Andrew Wang
If you are interested in joining the team, send your CV and a Covering Letter to email@example.com to apply to one of the following roles: Adventure Playground Attendants, Main Gate Attendants, Car Parking Attendants, House Guides / Room Stewards, Education Guides, Gift Shop Staff, and Garden Stewards.
You will need to be flexible and adaptable, be 16 years or over and have a National Insurance number. All casual seasonal staff work is on a rota basis, including weekends. Knebworth House, Park & Gardens is open at the weekends from March to September and daily during the school holidays. Applicants must be available to work weekends from 23rd March. There may be some opportunities to work at out of season events during the rest of the year. Please confirm your availability in your covering letter. Knebworth House also runs an extensive Education Programme that requires House staff and Garden Stewards on weekdays throughout May and June