Category Archives: Volunteers
Around 95% of our gardening activity at Tullie House Museum involves looking after herbaceous plants, shrubs and bushes, most of which have been planted in the past by others. The gardening team weed (especially the hundreds of sycamore seedlings that keep appearing), dead head and cut back – basically all the tasks that keep the gardens a place to enjoy and let us appreciate what nature has to offer. The plants in the garden that keep coming back year on year however (known as perennials) will need a bit more work for them to stay looking their best. Some have grown too well and encroached on others around them, some may be struggling a bit and there are those that self-seed into other areas of the garden (not to mention a few that have blown in in the wind).
Our Siberian Iris – Iris sibirica ‘Persimmon’ has a few “uglier” neighbours and the Caster Oil Plant – Fatsia japonica variegata looks as if it needs to be kept in control.
We therefore should consider lifting and splitting a lot of our plants later in the year. This will also allow us to tackle some of the more pervasive weeds like couch grass and Galium aparine (commonly known as cleavers or catchweed or stickyweed or sticky willy) that have unfortunately taken a foot hold in places. If we do this a small area at a time hopefully the task will not be too hard for the gardening team.
The other 5% of our activity is with the annuals. We only have a few small borders where these will be planted but as they are on the terrace in front of the cafe and function room (where several weddings take place throughout the year) it is important that these are looking their best. This year’s new bedding plants will go in next week.
I mentioned nature’s offerings earlier which off course includes the creatures that live in or visit the garden. Perhaps not this dragon fly hiding in the Smilacina Racemosa (False spikenard – at first glance this plant could be mistaken for Solomon’s seal however when it flowers its difference with 15cm long fluffy cream plumes of flowers – more like astilbe – appears). These posts with insects are dotted around the garden and are used by the educational team. More about them later.
One insect however is a very worthy visitor and was sighted last month. The Hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora plumpipes). The Cumbria Biodiversity Data Centre which is based in a building next door to the garden has kindly supplied notes on this little fella.
The Hairy-footed flower bee is a solitary bee which tends to emerge in the spring, and frequently nests in old walls or in the ground. Males and females differ in appearance with females tending to be black with orange hairs on their hind legs. Males are largely brown with long hairs on their mid legs which give this species its name. Both sexes have a long tongue to drink nectar, preferably from lungwort flowers. This male bee was photographed by CBDC on the 28th April in Tullie House Museum’s garden. There are over 1,000 records on the NBN atlas for the UK, but we only have 32 records in Cumbria, 29 of which have been in the last eight years. This species appears to be expanding its distribution northwards. However, it has ‘jumped’ from central England to Cumbria with very few records in Northumbria Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland. Does anyone have any suggestions as to why Cumbria may have a population but neighbouring counties lack sightings? Visit the Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society’s website http://http://www.bwars.com for more information on this species and many others.
Welcome to the first blog post from the Tullie House gardening team.
We are a small group of volunteers who meet every week (except during the Winter) in the beautiful surroundings of the Tullie House gardens.
Our task is to carry out regular work that ensures the gardens continue to be a place enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Call us the Tullie Gardens Team.
Tullie House garden is a pleasant courtyard style garden set within the historic heart of the city of Carlisle, close to the central shopping area. The garden is situated within the grounds of the historic Jacobean House, and is laid out in a style to reflect the era.
For those unfamiliar with Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, it houses considerable collections of fine and decorative art, human history and natural sciences.
Over the next few months we will be informing you of what we have in our garden and what takes place, not only at the hands of the gardeners, but also the many events that are enjoyed by young and old throughout the year.
We are a committed team, but even we admit that we have a mixed range of plant knowledge within the group, maybe you can help us identify some of the plants and flowers? Your comments and advice will be greatly appreciated.
Part of the garden is an attractive, open space designed with a Jacobean style theme. We also have a Roman garden which was planted to show visitors the main types of plant that would have been around in the Roman times. There are now plenty of signs of Summer coming to the garden.
Although we intend to keep future blogs simple, we hope we can be informative and make as many new friends as possible along the way, so if you do see us in the gardens working away, please pop over and say ‘hello’.
On Saturday 28 November, the volunteer programme were delighted to welcome 22 pupils from Caldew School to complete a day of ‘Social Action’ at Tullie House as the culmination of their National Citizen Scheme Award.
Nicky and John tell us about their day at Tullie and the work towards their award.
Last Saturday we completed our social action project at Tullie House Museum. As a group we developed and participated in three activities. The focus of the day was thinking about visitors from the community with visual impairment. This meant that one group created a sensory space in the garden, and another group researched and wrote scripts then recorded audio ‘labels’ for the Social History gallery. Finally the third and smallest group produced an NCS display, highlighting what the NCS programme involves and has to offer all young people.
To give you some background, the NCS stands the National Citizen Service award and is open for all 16-17 year olds across England and Wales. It is a journey through a series of phases with its ethos being based on:
- Social mix
- Social action
All of us who complete the NCS journey are awarded with a certificate signed by David Cameron (prime minister). However the skills and knowledge that we gain on the route are extremely valuable to wherever our futures lead.
We are all year 12 pupils from Caldew School. The start of the course saw us go to Lockerbie Manor, an outdoor pursuits centre where we did a range of activities designed to build up our confidence and communication skills. Then over the Autumn half term we visited various places within Carlisle and improved our understanding of the local community. We also took inspiration from the local organisations which eventually led us to taking part in a social action project at Tullie House Museum.
Davie, one of the students summed their wish to participate perfectly saying “I’m here to give something back to the community” a sentiment echoed by all the students.
John Sander the NCS Co-ordinator from Carlisle United had these further comments to make:
“I am thrilled that the group have chosen to work in partnership with the city’s leading tourist attraction. The confidence and inspiration they will gain as this project develops will not only have a big effect on their futures but it will be something that they will always remember. Hopefully their endeavours both in raising the funding and then working at the museum will also have a long, lasting and beneficial effect on the city and people of Carlisle”
John Sander added:
“For most of these sixth formers who attend Caldew School the NCS journey has been a life changing experience. This relatively new government initiative has improved their employability and allowed the young people to build friendships and memories on both the away and home residential experiences that will last for ever. The work at Tullie House is now the icing on the cake that allows all these students to graduate”
What Nicky and John didn’t mention in their text above is that they also carried out fundraising that meant Tullie House was able to benefit from £200 worth of plants for the garden and further £600 for the museum. It is my intention to see these funds used to continue the work you have started.
I was very pleased to host these students and enable them to complete their award. In addition, they have made a real contribution to their museum and created superb resources for visitors to enjoy for years to come. It was a privilege for me work with these students who gave up their Saturday and worked solidly throughout the day to achieve their aims – even in the rain! Well done and thank you all!.
Claire – Volunteer Co-ordinator
After many registrations were received to be the Summer Exhibitions Placement volunteer, we were delighted that Vanessa decided to join us. Here are her reflections on her completed placement.
In August I moved back to Carlisle after recently graduating with a degree in History of Art. Keen to get some hands-on experience within a museum/art gallery environment, I applied for the Summer Placement internship advertised on the Tullie House website. Meeting with Amy, the Exhibitions Programming Manager, I was happy to learn that the placement was very flexible; it could fit around my other commitments and could even be suited to my own particular interests (being the art and costume departments in particular.) The placement began a few weeks later and took place over two days- one would be focused on costume research with the exhibitions team, and the other day would be spent carrying out the costume audit alongside a team of volunteers.
The costume research was mostly computer-based and enabled me to utilise the skills I gained during my degree in a practical way. It involved studying the phases and major developments in fashion over the past two hundred years, and then cross-referencing these with the items in the museum’s costume collection in order to create a shortlist of clothes, shoes and accessories that best demonstrated these developments for an upcoming exhibition.
I was able to work independently and continuously on the same project so I was able to really get stuck-in, meeting regularly with Amy and the exhibitions team to ensure that I was on the right track.
The costume audit, on the other hand, has exposed me to an entirely new set of skills that are invaluable to my CV, from handling museum items to creating new records on the internal database, not to mention getting to paw through wonderful items of clothing that at times date all the way back to the eighteenth century!
Sophie assessing the 1920s shoes
We are currently going through the costume store box by box, inspecting the contents, ensuring they are recorded properly and are packaged so that they will be preserved for years to come. This is an ongoing project and one that I have continued to be a part of, as each week I build upon my costume knowledge and gain experience in a range of everyday tasks involved working behind the scenes in an art gallery and museum.
I would certainly recommend the Summer Placement to anyone else that has graduated and is looking to gain practical experience within the arts sector, especially as Amy and her team were so accommodating in fitting me in, and there is so much scope for what you can get involved in depending on your interests.
You did an amazing job and you’re an asset to the team. Thank you for all your hard work! Claire
The treasure trove store of over 7000 boxes of archaeological material has been the destination for our team of dedicated volunteers.
Working alongside Tim, the curator of archaeology, the team are well underway with the huge task of creating a comprehensive inventory of this diverse material.
As well as displaying objects, Tullie House also stores for future reference and research finds from many of the excavations carried out in north Cumbria. From boxes of animal bone and pottery sherds to the finest gold jewellery it all finds its way here, all providing the evidence for our unwritten past.
Managing this volume of material is a big job and one that one archaeology curator cannot carry out alone, so this is why we are so grateful to the hardy team of volunteers who give up their time to assist with this task. It could not be done without them.
I went down the store to meet up with the team to see their progress, and they showed me some of their favourite finds so far.
This “amazing find!”… “It’s so complete and readily identifiable as Mercury”.
This coin is great condition, as you can see from its packaging it was found during the excavation of Annetwell Street during the redevelopment of Tullie House.
An almost complete Roman iron lamp from the Millennium excavations, again close to Tullie House. Found from the area where the steps from the underpass come up in front of Carlisle Castle.
And Tim, with a relatively modern (19th century?) teaspoon proving that it doesn’t have to be 1000s of years old to be significant to archaeologists!.
Thank you Pam, Diana, Kath, Siriol, Chloe and Sally for all your hard work on this collection!
Claire, Volunteer Co-ordinator
As we’re in the middle of national volunteer week, we thought it was a great opportunity to celebrate and offer a very warm and heartfelt thank you to the 59 volunteers who have contributed to Tullie House over the last year.
Your support over the last 12 months has made a real difference to the 250,000 visitors who enjoy and learn from your museum.
Tullie House has volunteers?
Many don’t realise that Tullie House is a charity, and along with most other charities it welcomes the support of volunteers. There are a number of services that we could not offer if people were not prepared to give up their time. Volunteers form an integral part of our team and work and show us that successful volunteering isn’t just about getting a job done but it’s about local people getting involved with their museum and supporting their community.
How do volunteers help?
Over the past 12 months volunteers have supported the museum in so many ways. In the early part of the year 12 volunteers met with our visitors to carry out surveys to find out about their time in the museum. The information gathered is being used by us to make sure we’re providing the services people want.
Towards the end of the year, we started a new project to inventory over 8000 boxes of archaeological material. Through their work our team of seven volunteers are helping us plan for future collection needs and find the next treasures to go on display.
We also have many long-serving volunteers who give their time tirelessly to keep our gardens lovely for all to enjoy and our longest serving volunteer who has contributed regularly for over 25 years to catalogue our collections.
In addition, there are volunteers who help deliver activity sessions for visitors in the museum, and those behind the scenes at the Cumbria Biodiversity Diversity Centre. In my new quarterly blog posts I’ll introduce you to the volunteers we have at Tullie House and the difference they make to our museum and the communities we serve.
Volunteering is a way of joining in and making a difference. It’s also a great way for volunteers to develop and share skills. So if you’ve been inspired and would like to get involved or find out more please visit our website.
To all our current and previous volunteers: thanks for all that you do, whether it’s out in the garden on a rainy Tuesday, creating inventories of our thousands of boxes of archaeological collections or meeting visitors to find out about their time in the museum; we wouldn’t want to do it without you.
Claire, Volunteer Co-ordinator