My name is Oliver Ross and I’m working at the Charterhouse for my year ten work experience. I applied for museum work and was very lucky that I got it because I have loved my time here, even if it is only for a week.
I arrived at the Charterhouse on Monday and was amazed by not only the remarkable old building itself, hidden inside the depths of London, but by the history of the people who lived and worked, and still do live and work at the Charterhouse. I was introduced to the staff and was led through what I was going to be doing in the coming week. I was toured around and even after two tours from two separate people I’m still learning new things every day. I had lunch with the brothers, a remarkable bunch who I had a great chat with, accompanied by a meal of sausages and mashed potato. Their history is as intriguing and varied as the history of the Charterhouse, artists, actors, you name it, people from all professions all living together. It’s incredible.
On Tuesday, I worked on the front desk from 10 to 1. Helping and guiding people, I believe, has helped my ability to communicate, guide, advise and ultimately to help; a valuable set of skills that I will undoubtedly use, no matter which profession I go into later in life. It also gave me an insight into the inner workings of museums, (A bit less organised than I imagined!). Finally, and most importantly, it was great fun and I really enjoyed it! In the afternoon, I attended a wonderful tour led by one of the brothers, even more history than I learnt about the day before, this time with a personal twist. We learnt about what life here is like now and in the past, who lived here, why they lived here; pretty much everything past, and including, the 1300s when the grounds were bought up and used as a burial ground for plague victims.
Wednesday was extremely interesting. I helped with the volunteer program. To start off with I updated the database on new volunteers, a vital job which in all fairness does need doing and is a good practice for real life. However, after a massive lunch from Thackeray’s, the café next door, (I really recommend it), we started with the more challenging part. Screening new volunteers. 2:40 and we picked up the prospective volunteers from the front gate and led them to the Learning centre for an informal group interview. For me, this was a fantastic opportunity, I could not only observe an interview, albeit informal and short one, but be one of the people shaping it. We gave them a fanciful nightmare situation that could, in theory, happen at the front desk. Then we observed how they would approach it. This would help us to decide who would be good for the volunteering role of visitor engagement.
Thursday saw me working on this very blog for most of the morning along with taking the photos you see below. After, again, lunch at the delicious Thackerays, I was at the front desk for around an hour, quite a slow afternoon on Thursday so I spent a lot of time learning about billing, ticket sales and everything on the front of house.
And today is Friday. I’ve spent a lot of the day working on the press cuttings and putting them into a file for showings. A lot more fun than it sounds actually. I’ve enjoyed my time here and will value and treasure what I’ve learnt. Laughing and learning go together here at the Charterhouse.
The longer I’m here, the more I realise just how much history the Charterhouse is steeped in. From Dickens to WW2, from The Black Death to the modern day. The more you dig into the history the more you realise how much more history is left to uncover.