Tell us a bit about yourself and your role

Hi there, my name is Jordanne, and I am a Visitor Experience Assistant for museums across Swindon, particularly at Lydiard House Museum.

From a young age I have always been fascinated by history and knew I wanted to work within a museum setting; so much so that I turned our garden shed into my own museum that I curated when I was little, exhibiting the finest collection of things I had found or made...primarily rocks, and stick drawings. I am currently working towards a BA in Classical Studies with the Open University, and hope to in the future continue my further education journey to be able to specialise in working with collections or curatorship, and focusing on how museums can be made more diverse, inclusive, engaging and spaces of education, remembrance, compassion, and safety to all that work and visit them.

Lydiard House and Park

I love coming to work, as it a mixed bag of activities, you get to meet so many people from different age groups, backgrounds, and who share a mutual interest for history. Every day I discover something new about the museums, and you can never expect what your day will be like; you can find yourself doing anything from greeting visitors, answering enquiries, promoting the museum’s events and activities, help preparing for events or exhibitions, till work, admin, opening up the museum and then locking it at the end of the day, research and distributing information about the history to visitors, among many more roles.

What do you like best about your role?

My favourite thing about being a VEA is the engagement with visitors. It is wonderful to be able to provide people with a good experience when they visit your museum, and it is also very special when you get to see more and more families with children of all ages visiting and becoming interested in the past. For example, a couple of weeks ago I had one family who had a young daughter with ADHD, and her mum said that history was one of the only things that kept her engaged. You could really see the passion and how much she loved the museum, wanting to one day also work within the setting, and it was an encounter that very much reminded me of when I was her age. Experiences such as this one, remind me of how impactful and rewarding my role is.

I also greatly enjoy the research aspect of my role. Perhaps attributed towards my inner historian, I love finding out more information about a collection, artefact, or individual to satisfy my own curiosity or to provide answers to a visitor. It is a great feeling when you go from not knowing to discovering all the secrets, facts and nuances behind an object, place or person.

Where are your favourite places to visit in Wiltshire and why?

Avebury Stone Circle in the mist

I love a museum visit, and thankfully there are so many to go to in Wiltshire. Some of my favourite places I have gone to recently include, the Corinium Museum in Cirencester which is primarily focused on the Roman history of Corinium (the Latin for Cirencester) but also has an array of exhibits featuring earlier and later periods. Swindon has Lydiard House Museum and STEAM, the museum of the Great Western Railway, which is a fantastic day out for families and train enthusiasts. There is also Avebury in Marlborough, consisting of a small village and is the site of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites. If you are looking for a nice route to walk around or spend the day, Avebury is definitely a good option.

Do you have any hidden Wiltshire gems that you’d like to share with our readers?

This may be favourably biased, but one of the hidden gems of Wiltshire really is Lydiard Park. The grounds, St Mary’s church and the Palladian house have such a long history to explore. It is a lovely way to spend a day, by walking around the lake, through the woodland, stopping for lunch at the Tea Rooms, Forest Café or the Hotel and Conference Centre, and then popping by both St Mary’s Church and Lydiard House Museum for a fascinating plethora of intertwined history that has and still plays a big part for Wiltshire. If you are in the area, I would 100 per cent encourage you to stop by, as we would love for you to visit us and get to experience Lydiard in its full splendour.

Where’s your favourite Wiltshire picnic spot?

Bowood House and Gardens Autumn

Wiltshire is incredibly lucky to have such beautiful surroundings that make picking a favourite picnic spot difficult. However, the four that stand out the most and where I would personally opt for are Jubilee Lake in Royal Wootton Bassett, Lydiard Park, Lacock Abbey near Chippenham, or Bowood House. All of these spots are incredibly picturesque and have nearby facilities for visitors to make the most of their day there.

Where are your favourite places to eat out in Wiltshire and why?

As a foodie, I love finding new spaces to go out to eat, and there are certainly lots of options in Wiltshire. Some of my favourites include Sally Pussey’s Inn, Churchill’s Pub and Grill, The Angel, Il Camino, or Noden’s Café in Royal Wootton Bassett. Although a small town, Wootton Bassett has a lot of good options, however these one’s stand out for their atmosphere’s and the food that is on offer. Whether that be to sit outside in the summer for drinks and lunch in the Angel or Sally Pussey’s, to cosy up by the fireplaces while having dinner in the colder months at Churchill’s, having a lovely family oriented environment or a good place for a group meeting at Il Camino, or a quiet hidden gem such as Noden’s to grab a coffee and read a book or meet a friend, all such places are great and provide good memories to take away with you.

In Swindon, Lydiard Park’s various places to eat also stand out. In particular, the newly refurbished Hotel and Conference has a lovely bar area and menu on offer that I would highly recommend.

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