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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Volunteering for the National Trust at Wallington

The National Trust was set up in 1895, by three Victorian philanthropists: Miss Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Their main aim was to protect threatened buildings, countryside and coastline from industrialisation and over development.

From its humble beginnings, the National Trust now protects some 709 miles of coastline in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In total, it looks after 627,000 acres of countryside, moorland, coastline and beaches.

Amongst the historic properties in the Trust's care are: 215 houses and gardens, 40 castles, 76 nature reserves, 12 lighthouses, 6 World Heritage Sites, and 43 pubs and inns.

Last year, some 62,000 volunteers gave their time to help Europe's most successful conservation movement and were involved in a wide variety of activities in National Trust properties and sites around the country.

Wallington Hall, Cambo, Northumberland.

It is nearly eight years since I began as a Volunteer at Wallington. Over the years as a member of the National Trust, I have been a regular visitor to Wallington. I chose to work at the property because of the House, grounds and gardens, it is also close to home and easily accessible.

My first thought of volunteering began with a visit to the National Trust website to find out what was available and who to contact for further information.

The Yorkshire and the North East Region deals with all of the volunteering opportunities in this area, and in no time they had supplied me with all of the details and an application form.

Looking at what was available around the area, I decided to apply for the Research and Design Assistant role at Wallington. After an informal interview I was asked to undertake visitor surveys in relation to property literature and information provided.

This enabled me to meet visitors around the grounds and gardens and ask them my prepared questions. At this time, I spent all day carrying out the surveys. The information and comments provided by the visitors were used to prepare new property literature and information sheets for distribution.

Walled Garden.

From this I was asked to carry out another set of surveys: asking visitors about their experience when visiting the House and what visitors thought about the House guide book. Again it allowed me to talk to visitors from all around the country and some even from around the World. I spent the afternoons in the House for the whole of one season i.e. April to October.

House Entrance on East Lawn.

Central Hall of House.

As I try to go to Wallington for a full day and the surveys in the House could only be carried out in the afternoons. I asked if it would be possible to help out in the Walled Garden and grounds.

It was arranged for me to help the gardeners and I now spend all day in the fresh air and working in the magnificent gardens and grounds.

Walled Garden.

I thoroughly enjoy my days at Wallington, I was made welcome from day one and you get to meet other volunteers and members of the National Trust staff. Your time and effort is much appreciated by all of the staff at Wallington.

I would recommend volunteering at a National Trust property or location, it is very rewarding and allows you to learn new skills, meet people and help to conserve important buildings, grounds and countryside near to where you live.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Views around the grounds and Walled Garden - 14/11/2012.

Great weather for November. There was no wind and the temperature was around 12 degrees Centigrade. It remained dry and it was the ideal day to try and clear away the leaves in and around the Courtyard. With the house being closed now for the season there were very few visitors walking around the grounds and the Walled Garden.

Armed with a leaf blower, I set about pushing the leaves into manageable piles and the other gardeners picked them up and put them into the trailer. The leaves were dry and easy to collect. It took all morning to get the leaves into the piles. After lunch, I moved to another area and finished the day getting the leaves into the trailer.

The trees have shed nearly all of their leaves, this should be the last time we have to collect them. Underneath the leaves, the snowdrops are starting to appear out of the grassed areas.

I took the following photographs before I started work this morning: 

The new paths in East Wood.
China Pond in East Wood.
China Pond.
China Pond.
Overlooking Garden Pond towards Portico Walk.
View of the Walled Garden.
Garden Pond.
Scaramouche on the Upper Terrace.
Perseus on the Upper Terrace.
Serpentine Path in East Wood.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Views around the grounds and Walled Garden - 07/11/12

Photographs taken before I started work this morning:

Autumn in the Courtyard.
West Lawn
Serpentine Path in East Wood.
Road beside Garden Pond.
Garden Pond looking up to Portico Walk.
Lower Terrace the Walled Garden.
Looking along the Lower Terrace of the Walled Garden.
The Orchard and Nuttery in the Walled Garden.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Views around the grounds and Walled Garden - 02/11/2012.

Pictures taken before I started work this morning:

Fallen leaves beside China Pond in East Wood .
Reflections in China Pond.
China Pond.
East Wood.
Garden Pond.
Autumn's colours on the Lower Terrace of the Walled Garden,
Lower Terrace of the Walled Garden.
Blue and Yellow border - ready for Winter!
Cut Flower border looking towards Centenary Walk.
Plum Border in the Walled Garden.
Serpentine Walk in East Wood.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Views around the grounds - 24/10/2012

After the successful Food and Craft Festival here at Wallington, last weekend. I was expecting to help clear up in the Courtyard. The double marquee had gone and the only things left on the grass were the wooden boards for the tents. All of the catering units were gone and all you could see were the marks on the grass, where they had been sited.

The contrast in the weather could not have been more different. The weekend was fine, sunny and warm which brought over 20000 visitors to the Festival. Today was grey cloudy and damp. A few visitors had braved the wet weather to visit the House and Walled Garden.

East Lawn was my project for the day. The trees are shedding their leaves very quickly now and I was instructed how to use a petrol leaf blower to tackle the large area covered by the fallen leaves. It certainly is a lot quicker than a rake! I managed to clear a large area and collect and dump the leaves in amongst the trees. One thing is certain? It will be covered again tomorrow!!!!!

I took the following photographs before I started work this morning:

The leaves on East Lawn.
East Wood.
Garden Pond.
Garden Pond.
Garden Pond.
Garden  Pond.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Views around the grounds and Walled Garden - 19/10/2012.

The day before the popular Food and Craft Festival was to be very busy for the staff and volunteers at Wallington. Two large marquees cover a large section of the grass in the Courtyard, and throughout the day there was a steady stream of vehicles fetching generators and mobile catering units.

Visitors will be able to sample such delights as divine burgers, hog roasts and fish and chips. As usual there were some last minute jobs to be carried out: setting up the overflow car park, putting up tents, general tidying up of the property and for us, the volunteers present today - raking up the newly fallen leaves.

The weather forecast for today was correct. Fog and mist early morning clearing away with sun early afternoon with a temperature of around 12 degrees C. Our work hopefully will ensure Wallington is at its best, at this time of year though all of the leaves collected in one day could be replaced by others if the wind gets up!

My next visit to Wallington be be on Sunday as a visitor to the festival. Good weather is forecast, this hopefully will ensure a record attendance for the National Trust property.

I took the following photographs before I started work this morning:

Marquees on the Courtyard grass.
House entrance.
House from East Lawn.
View of the newly laid paths in East Wood.
Looking up to the Portico.
Autumn's colours beside Garden Pond.
After the damp start to the day in the Walled Garden.
Potting Shed door.
In the Blue and Yellow border of the Walled Garden.
Upper Terrace beside the Peach Houses.
View across the Lower Terrace of the Walled Garden.