Waking up the Georgian House

I was made redundant from my main job in July but I have been lucky enough to have not one but two of my ex-employers take me on in temporary part-time roles while I looked for a new role and started forming a portfolio career for freelance work. (UPDATE: I’m delighted to say that I have since found a new full-time role at the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections and Archives working on the eighteenth-century library of Dr William Hunter.)

One of my recent jobs has been as a temporary housekeeping assistant at the Georgian House at 7 Charlotte Square in Edinburgh. This is not quite as strange a career change as the one currently being undertaken by former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Ed Balls who (at time of writing) is lighting up our television screens as a Strictly Come Dancing contestant on BBC1. I had, after all, performed the same housekeeping role as I was completing my PhD five years ago.

On my last day of housekeeping last week, I took some photos to celebrate the unique temporary access I had to the Georgian House. I am sharing some of these here because I think that they reveal a side to the House which people will enjoy seeing.

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All is quiet: the House at daybreak.

Robert Adam’s palace front design looking fine as it always does as I approach. No. 7 is the one with the blue door and the glowing fanlight.

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Many keys are needed to open the House. Some  – not all – are shown above.
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Many stairs to be climbed, some repeatedly. Some in the company of Henry the Hoover and some with a mop in tow.
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Trusty conservation cotton gloves on, I make my way into the House.

(These are needed for opening the shutters and for moving small items of furniture that need to be re-installed in front of some of the windows throughout the house.)

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The Bedroom, partially lit, shutters closed.
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The Kitchen in a gloomy state…
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… is much more its cheerful self once the lights are on.
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In the Scullery looking back to the Kitchen by the light of a single (battery-powered) candle.
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A mysterious figure lurking in the Butler’s room…
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… is the Butler himself. (With the Georgian House Mouse dressed in livery to keep him company.)
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As more lights go on, the House looks more and more welcoming and increasingly ready for visitors.
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An unusual view of the House – looking up to the front door from outside the Butler’s room. A chance to admire some hallmarks of the Georgian style.
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The Parlour waits to be awakened.
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One of the three sets of Drawing Room shutters.
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The view from the top.

I regret that I seem to have missed out the Dining Room. I was becoming aware of time passing for me to finish opening the House and attending to my housekeeping tasks. There were batteries to be replaced in a Dining Room candle and this distracted me from completing my photographic essay.

My housekeeping assistant contract has ended but I’m still a volunteer room guide at the Georgian House. You can find out more about the Georgian House, including opening times and events as well as seeing more traditional views of the rooms here.

The Georgian House is currently raising funds to restore and open more of its rooms to the public. Opening up the Attic … The Georgian House Nursery Project: to donate £5 text GHSE50£5 to 70070. Find out more about the Georgian House Nursery project (pdf download).

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