Why I volunteer: Sylvia Jewels - Museums Association

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Why I volunteer: Sylvia Jewels

Barley Hall, York
Interview by John Holt
“I volunteer as one of the five ‘servants’. All of us are in costume and we re-create medieval serving life, in Barley Hall in York.

The hall is the former home of a mayor of the city and it has been restored and decorated to how it would have looked when he lived there in the late-15th century.

I used to be a teacher in a primary school and being accustomed to talking to a group has really helped to give me the confidence to take part in such re-creations.

At my last two schools I was also in charge of music, drama and art, which gave me inspiration for the servants’ days.

I have painted a range of scenes on hangings to help represent a medieval kitchen. There is a hearth with a pot cooking over it, game hanging up, pots and sacks for food and even some cats and mice for added detail.

As a guide I also help to greet people to the hall and give them information about its history and the family who lived here. I get such satisfaction from feeling I am helping to create an enjoyable visit for them.”

Barley Hall is part of York Archaeological Trust, which has regular intakes of volunteers in various roles across its heritage sites


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