Day two of shadowing and being in costume and today’s location couldn’t be more different. Compared to yesterday’s bustle of the town, today I was in peaceful Pockerley. So ‘rural’ that I actually couldn’t find it to start with and I soon realised this was a part of the museum I’ve never visited before. Walking through the Pit Village, with basket in arm, a bonnet on my head and stopping at the church to ask directions, it was so easy to transport myself to a different time and way of life. Even more so when I ventured through the wood, my dress and petticoat brushing the floor, throwing up dust and leaves around me. It made me realise that although the costumes are a huge part of the visitor experience they must also really help the staff and volunteers to get into character. I felt really at peace and relaxed here – the landscapes are beautiful and walking through, especially before the Museum was open to the public, I was struck by how much the sounds of nature surrounded me. The sheep bleated a hello and I could actually hear the breeze as it rustled through the trees. There was definitely a part of me walking up to Pockerly Hall that started to yearn for a quieter, simpler life. No mobile phones, emails, offices, just domestic life, land and animals. After a day in costume, living said life I could see that it wasn’t all rosy. Although undoubtedly ‘simpler’ it was also hard work – often dirty and laborious. For those inside the house tasks included scrubbing tables, keeping the fire going, sweeping the floors and making the food to keep those working outside satisfied. My initial excitement at an indoor bread oven (how trendy!) was someone dissipated when I learnt that maids such as me, were only allowed the dirty bottom of the loaf that was black from the oven ash.
Leaving the hall for the day I felt physically tired but somehow very satisfied. I’m used to sitting hunched over a laptop and often not speaking to anyone for a few days at a time and so, after today, I felt like I’d worked hard and earned a nice tea and a chance to put my feet up. As I left the museum, back into phone signal and traffic, I definitely think I’ll be returning to Pockerley regularly for some reflection time and a reminder that sometimes simple is best.