Community & Learning Intern Blog – Ella's first week

6 July 2015


This is Ella speaking! Meghan and I are the Community & Learning interns for the summer at Stowe. This is a really exciting time to be working here, due to the grand opening of the House to launch the newly built Welcome Centre and Discovery Centre. There’s always a bustling atmosphere about the building, and the staff and the volunteers are so friendly and open. On my first day I received a full House tour with one of the volunteer guides so I could get to know the House better, as well as a visit around the National Trust's Gardens!

My first experience with a school visit was with a mix of Early Years and Key Stage 1 pupils from Bourton Meadow Academy. Natalie, the lovely manager of our team (and my and Meghan’s supervisor) led a series of sessions titled ‘Treasures at Stowe: stories, myths and legends’. Each activity was inspired by the room they took place in. In the State Music Room, the kids were encouraged to make as much noise as possible based on the animals painted on the walls using the instruments laid on the floor as inspiration. They also dressed up as Romans and searched for all the people they could find in the portraits around the North Hall and the statues in the Marble Saloon. Sometimes they even had to use the binoculars given to them since the statues were so high up! They got messy and creative in the brand new Learning Space and made potions out of paint, glitter and sequins. Some of the uses they made up were more malicious than we expected, including making their siblings explode and turning their parents into mice…

Despite the drizzly weather, the kids were happy enough to venture off on a ‘gold’ hunt around the House. Natalie then incorporated all the activities they did – the gold, the potion, the animals and the humans – into one story through the myth of Midas. The children were happy to be her actors and seemed to enjoy how all the things they created threaded through into the stories embedded in the house. They had their own paper scroll so that after each activity they earned stickers (designed by yours truly!) which encouraged them to not only think about the components of the story, but also create their own. It was a really enjoyable morning, as I got to understand Stowe’s message of stimulating creative thinking just by being in its four walls.

After researching into the architecture of Stowe, I volunteered as a steward for an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Over 200 people came to see the performance, and it was wonderful seeing Stowe not only support independent theatre, but also seeing it as a space for the arts and for the local community. 

I snuck into the new Welcome Centre and Discovery Centre with Natalie and met Jenna, the project manager for the new centre. She led us through her vision for the centre, as well as the Cellar which will house the permanent exhibition on Stowe’s history. We also got to meet Katie, a student at Bucks New University and also the winner of the ‘Take a Seat’ competition. Her chair design concept evokes the harmony between the House and Gardens, while simultaneously inhabiting a modern and simple feel. It was really interesting seeing everyone collaborate together on different parts of the project, and really helped me learn more about the House’s plans for the future during my first week.