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Rufford Old Hall to celebrate 75 years with the National Trust

PUBLISHED: 16:39 11 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:41 20 February 2013

Rufford Old Hall to celebrate 75 years with the National Trust

Rufford Old Hall to celebrate 75 years with the National Trust

They're preparing to party 1930s style as Rufford Old Hall marks a special anniversary <br/>Photography by Kirsty Thompson

Not many people admit to enjoying housework but then not many people get to clean in a home like this. Since she started working at Rufford Old Hall Lynne Mills has been able to indulge her passion for polishing - and she loves every minute of it.

It makes me feel good when I see it done well, she said. I like house work and I enjoy the cleaning side of the job. I get to handle and to care for things I would never have the money to own myself.

As assistant house manager Lynne is responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of the hall which is this year marking 75 years under the ownership of the National Trust.

Lynne also manages the team of volunteers and she said: They get involved with conservation work, cleaning, room guiding, tours, work
in the gardens, events - every aspect of the work around the house and grounds. The place could not exist without volunteers.

Were planning work on two of the chimneys and the visitors toilets but a lot of the work is done during the winter when the house is closed to visitors. We check every item we own, move every piece of furniture and
clean everything.

Visitor numbers to the 16th century hall are on the rise and Lynne recognises the importance of attracting children through the gates. I never did this as a child. Visits to castles and old houses werent what we did, she added. But we have to get young people interested. If were not going to get the next generation in we might as well close the doors now.
The hall now hosts quizzes, trails and childrens activities as part of a concerted effort to attract new people and encourage repeat visits.

Property manager Chantelle Seaborn knows the value of providing for children from her own experience. I was brought up being dragged around castles and made to suffer countless tours of ruins, she said.

Chantelle, who joined the National Trust last year and is also in charge
of Gawthorpe Hall at Padiham and the Trusts site at Formby, said: Were also trying to help people engage more with the hall and to be more accessible - there are toys children can play with and we have a pianist playing in the drawing room.

We have reduced family entry prices and put on more for young people. When the hall is open its a matter of focusing on visitors and thinking about events for during the school holidays and, outside the holidays, catering for older people and people with pre-school children - trying to provide something for everyone.

There are many people who are very local who have not been in the hall. We want to work with the local community. We hold weddings and open air theatre events here and they bring people in for the first time who often come back to see the hall itself.

Visitor numbers are increasing steadily each year - we are on around 55,000 a year now - but we know we have to provide something new for everyone every time they come, or they will stop coming. We need to
tell different stories and hold different events.

One noticeable change at the hall this month is the new reception area which has transformed a derelict cottage beside the courtyard.

A special party will be held this month to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the National Trusts ownership of the hall. Staff and volunteers will recreate the mood of 1936 with period costume and family games and entertainment at a garden party on Sunday July 24th.


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