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Faces of Fulham Palace: Julie

Meet education volunteer, Julie!

What attracted me to volunteering at Fulham Palace? The fascinating history, the beautiful buildings, the stunning garden? The staff, the other volunteers, the cats, the cake …. all of those and more.

I was first gently but expertly recruited four years ago by the then curator whilst I was volunteering at an Open House Day. I was initially reluctant to commit to another volunteering role (I was already fairly busy) but I learnt that I didn’t have to volunteer on the same day every week, and the amount of time I gave could vary. Volunteers sign up online for the shifts they want to do, so if I’m free I can do a shift, and if my diary is full some weeks then I’m not letting anyone down. It’s a very flexible system and certainly suits me.

I started out helping in the education centre, getting involved in some of the schools’ workshops that the Palace offers. I have probably learnt just as much history as the children during those sessions. We’ve learnt about the stone age, Romans, Vikings, and Victorians. The Tudor Curing Catherine session continues to be my favourite. The children get to dress up as apprentice apothecaries and make tussy mussies using herbs gathered in the botanic garden in an attempt to cure Catherine of Aragon’s ailments. (Spoiler: they always succeed, and we celebrate with a Tudor dance.)

Education officer, Jean, with volunteer Julie (Photo taken by Marcus Dawes).

Another attraction of volunteering at the Palace is the opportunity to try a variety of roles. There are lots of different volunteer roles available and we are encouraged and supported to pursue our interests, use our skills and learn new ones. As well as my education role I have also joined the front of house team and become a Pop-Up-Palace champion, as well as helping out at lots of events. One week I might be cutting out cardboard caterpillars which children will make into butterflies at a family fun day, the next I’m telling visitors about the artefacts in the museum, and after that, I’m helping at an Elvis night. It’s certainly not boring!

Added to all this, there are visits arranged to other museums, regular training and annual volunteer forums to update us about future plans, as well as summer and Christmas parties.

However, if I had to give only one reason why I am attracted to volunteering at Fulham Palace, it would be that the time and effort I give is truly valued. I have never done a shift without being genuinely thanked by the staff.