Tales of a Housekeeper
From cleaning countless tea towels, to caring for a two thousand year old floor, Head Housekeeper Christine Benton reminisces on her time working at Waddesdon that began almost 15 years ago.
It was approximately 6.30am and I was driving up to start my first morning as a trainee Housekeeping Assistant at the Manor. Mine was the lone car making its way towards the house from the North Fountain leaving behind the ghost-like statues, wrapped in their white winter covers. With just a few lights here and there, as I approached the house in the mist and gloom, Waddesdon looked like something out of an old horror movie.
As directed, I found my way to the tunnel near the Manor shop, which only enhanced the spookiness of it all; looking up I saw the spiked metal bar which immediately reminded me of Traitors Gate at the Tower of London, where the heads of the prisoners were displayed.
However, minutes later I was given a warm welcome by the Housekeeping team, and after two weeks of training I was deployed to the Stables, where I happily worked for the next six years.
The Lod mosaic
A lasting memory is of the 2014 season, by which time I was in my first year as Domestic Housekeeping Manager.
The Coach House Gallery at the Stables was hosting the amazing Roman Lod Mosaic from Israel, and the transformation of the Coach House, along with the fact that my team were responsible for the cleaning and care of this two thousand year old floor, is still one of the highlights of my career.
Never a dull moment, another highlight of the same season was our Roman weekend, complete with a Roman Army re-enactment group that brought the whole theme to life. They stayed overnight in the stables education rooms, and for two days cleaning had to be done around the Roman shields, spears and uniform that lined the walls. The sight of an army of men dressed in full character, marching up the playground walkways and lining up by the Summerhouse ready for battle was a spectacle to behold.
Being faced with new things every day makes my job completely unique and exciting, and sums up why Waddesdon is such an incredible and interesting place to work.
By Christine Benton, Head Housekeeper