Written by volunteer tour guide Barry.
My first knowledge of Fulham Palace was when delivering a printing machine to one of the offices in the courtyard for Gestetner in the 70s. After that, the nearest I got to the Palace was having plot 299 in the Meadows Allotments in the 80s. It wasn’t until 2011 that I gradually got involved in stewarding at the Palace with the help of a volunteer of many years, Yvonne Lindsay.
Yvonne was Social Secretary at the Oddfellows Soc. She arranged to have a stall and for the Oddfellows Brass Band to attend a day at the Palace. I became a member and soon discovered another member, Maureen Ball, was also a keen Palace volunteer.
Yvonne was also a volunteer tour guide and allowed me to assist her on tours and helped me learn the ropes, as I did with the other guides. I’m now in my 11th year at the Palace and thoroughly enjoy my role in greeting our visitors on Sundays, as well as leading public and private history tours. I recall my baptism into leading a tour was when Miranda, the curator at the time, asked me (at short notice) to join her on a tour. The tour ended up taking place after hours with a large group of international tourists and was a rapid show around the historic rooms – not what I was prepared for!
As I continued to learn and prepare to lead tours, I realised many of my skills from my previous work of coaching young footballers helped me become a better guide. Having experience with subject knowledge, flexibility and organising sessions helped to prepare me to lead tours and share the long history of the Palace.
Having work experience with Fulham F.C Academy was good fun and I remember many coaching sessions next door to the Palace in Bishop’s Park. An ex-player I introduced to Fulham in my scouting capacity was a 16-year-old named Martin Ferney who went on to play for the first team. Martin recently brought his family along for a visit to the Palace and I’m not sure who most enjoyed the visit! Showing groups around, such as the U3A who are so appreciative, and leave with a smile make it all worthwhile!
You can learn more about the Palace and have a chance to meet volunteer Barry by booking an upcoming history tour.