Birthday party for Southwell Workhouse

Dame Fiona Reynolds Director General of the National Trust officially opens the new Laundry room at the Workhouse in Southwell today Pictured along with members of the Pauper Choir
Dame Fiona Reynolds Director General of the National Trust officially opens the new Laundry room at the Workhouse in Southwell today Pictured along with members of the Pauper Choir

Anniversary celebrations are now well underway at top tourist attraction The Workhouse.

Saved from the threat of development into residential flats by the National Trust 10 years ago, The Workhouse has since been visited by more than 350,000 people as it brings the past to life.

Last week the Southwell property marked 10 years since it first opened its doors to the public.

More than 250 volunteers and staff, past and present, attended the birthday party, when Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE, director-general of the National Trust, presented 40 volunteers with long-service awards.

Rachel Harrison, property operations manager, said: “Without our volunteers we would not be able to run The Workhouse; they bring it to life for our visitors through their research, expertise and enthusiasm.

“We were delighted that Dame Fiona Reynolds was able to join us to acknowledge the vital contribution made by our volunteers.”

Annette Hambidge, a volunteer who mixes the contrasting roles of volunteer recruiter with that of costumed matron on living history days, said: “From research to room guiding, there are over 15 different volunteer roles to suit all interests and new ones are always being created.”

John Twelftree added: “Volunteering here is such a rewarding experience.

“In my 10 years at The Workhouse, I’ve had a go at most roles but mainly give guided tours. I enjoy the challenge of adapting to the needs of different groups to help them to get the most from their visit.

“The support we are given by staff and other volunteers gives the place a real sense of community.”

To mark the 10-year anniversary, Dame Fiona buried a time capsule, which will record how the Trust has developed the site during its first decade of custodianship. It contains a range of items, including a photo of staff and volunteers, a copy of the audio guide, events leaflet and gruel bowl from the shop.

Visitors this season will be able to see the old drying room, which Dame Fiona opened.

This year The Workhouse will be hosting a number of special events to celebrate the anniversary year, in addition to regular favourites like Graft, Gruel and Good-for-Nothings days.

For more details click here.

The Workhouse is open Wednesday-Sunday, until 28th October, from 12noon to 5pm (last admission 4pm).

The Workhouse is now stocking Chad’s Audio Tourist Guides, hosted by Stephen Thirkill as he promotes some of the area’s better tourism hotspots including the Workhouse.

To order your copy direct from Chad, priced £7.99, contact Stephen on 01623 450292.