The opportunity to have a week of work experience in Jane Austen's House Museum was a great way to spend part of my summer holiday. I enjoyed completing various tasks in the museum’s tranquil yet bright atmosphere, learning about the great variety of work covered by all the staff who are all enthusiastically devoted to the running of the museum.
During my week’s placement I was fortunate enough to watch the filming of Chris Brindle's behind the scenes programme about his stage adaptation of Sanditon, which was Jane Austen’s unfinished novel continued by Anna Austen Lefroy, and which has had a number of other authors complete the story. To my great surprise I was even allowed to help out with some of the filming myself. It was interesting to see how such programmes are put together as well as having the opportunity to hear about the play itself, including how Chris chose to direct it and how Amy Burrows came to play the part of Charlotte Heywood.
Another exciting task was dressing up several manikins in the costumes from the ITV production of Mansfield Park, including the outfits worn by Billie Piper (or should I say Fanny Price). These costumes have been put on display throughout the house as part of the Museum’s celebration of the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s novel written in 1814. I greatly enjoyed this activity because the clothes were both interesting to look at as well as beautiful – particularly the wedding dress; William Price’s naval uniform was my other favourite costume. I feel that seeing the costumes on display brings Jane’s novels to life as you explore the House.
I was also fascinated by another task - tallying up the different counties from which visitors in the UK have come during 2013 in order to visit the author’s house. People have travelled from every county in England and Wales as well as from Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands to the little village of Chawton to see where the inspiring novelist lived.
I loved my week’s placement in Jane Austen's House Museum because as well as being in such a beautiful location and atmospheric house I enjoyed working within the happy, friendly environment and each day being as exciting as the last due to the constant variation of day-to-day work in the museum.
Lizzie is the last of our 2014 Work Experience placements. We will have more places available in 2015.