My name is Janet Johnstone and I am the Stewards’ Manager at the Museum. I have worked here for sixteen years and consider myself very fortunate to have such an enjoyable job in such a beautiful historical setting. My job is made so rewarding by the support I have from my fifty plus volunteers, many of which have volunteered at the Museum for many years. We have a small staff at the House and as a result we work very closely together which often has the feeling of a family unit.
One of the times I enjoy most is sitting in the pretty cottage garden in the summer with other staff members and volunteers having my lunch break. The garden is spectacular in the summer and gives so much pleasure to us at the Museum and our visitors, all thanks to Celia our wonderful gardener and her volunteer helpers Pat and Katie.
It is great to be a part of the British tourist industry. It is fascinating how people from all corners of the globe find their way to this small Hampshire village. People’s enthusiasm for Jane Austen’s writing from so many different cultures is truly humbling. I enjoy talking to people from so many different countries and always admire their competence in speaking English!!
Working at the Museum has also given me the opportunity to meet people from many walks of life from royalty to actors from television, film and theatre, to The Governor of the Bank of England. This
Every job has to have some drawbacks and I have to say there aren’t many here at Chawton, but there is one that affects us all and that is the cold. Georgian Houses are not warm even with modern heating methods .We often appear looking like Michelin Men with all our layers of clothing in an attempt to keep warm. During the closure period in January some of us don’t get around to taking our coats off until well into the afternoon. We try to imagine how Jane and her family managed, especially the servants who in order to get food from the kitchen to the dining room must have ventured outside as even today there is no doorway direct from the kitchen to the rest of the house.
Here at the Museum we have many interesting events which I always enjoy attending even if I am not here in a working capacity. I consider myself very fortunate to work where I can combine my love of literature and history.
Janet Johnstone - Volunteer Manager