I am lucky enough to spend one day a week as a volunteer in the archives at Chatsworth. Reliable witnesses and my diary tell me I have been coming here for just over a year. Each day here goes very quickly because it’s so interesting. I have always been fascinated by history and qualified as an archivist years ago. Now I am able to use some of those skills in retirement. There are several volunteers and we get a wide range of work to do, organised by a friendly team of archivists. They even give you home-made chocolate cake at tea break (you have to be quick!). The projects I have undertaken at Chatsworth have been varied. I have helped in long term projects such as cleaning and repackaging documents, cataloguing estate maps and plans and listing and cataloguing all kinds of documents.
|Cataloguing letters is enjoyable, but often frustrating ... particularly when you can’t make out the signature like in the letter above.|
|Extract from a diary of Lucy Cavendish, complete with sketches|
As for Chatsworth, this is the most beautiful place to come to work, all the grandeur of the buildings and estate, and underpinning it, a record of the generations of people who built, worked and lived here. It is a great privilege to get up close to such an important archive, and to help preserve it for future generations.