My Student Placement at Selly Manor
I came to Selly Manor in the second year of my Ancient and Medieval History course as part of a placement module. I was drawn to Selly Manor as someone who is interested in social history- particularly how people would have lived their day-to-day lives. My official role was as a museum assistant assisting with the collection here, but I was able to do so much more while on placement.
I had the opportunity to carry out my own research on the site. I was asked to write a piece about the garden at the site so that we could bring the grounds into the experience for visitors. I had little knowledge of how gardens were used by Tudors or how our garden has been influenced by Tudor designs and plants, but I found the project fascinating, especially because of how many different ideas about diet, health and natural beauty worked their way into beliefs.
I also spent a great deal of time engaging with the community-oriented side of what goes on at Selly Manor. This included greeting visitors and registering bookings for events as well as helping set up for the events. By getting involved with both the research side and the community side of the museum, I was able to appreciate the diversity of roles which one individual could fill. This was an eye-opener for me as I had come to Selly Manor with a somewhat narrow idea of what I could do- archiving and research, mainly. But I soon found out that I could choose to steer my role to suit what I wanted to learn. Underlying this, though, I rarely felt that I was unimportant or forgotten about. Rather, I was made to feel a valued part of the team and found that the small group staff became familiar faces very soon. I always had something which I could be doing and more importantly, I was often able to see how my contributions fitted into the broader scheme of what Selly Manor was trying to accomplish as an organisation. If for instance working at an event, I was able to engage with visitors and understand why Selly Manor is important in the local community, not just as a historic site but as a hub for people of all ages. This really helped to build my confidence as a volunteer, and by engaging with multiple sides of the organisation I was able to take pride in the work I was doing as I could understand what it meant to people.
Although I am still figuring out where I want to go in life, I have been able to form so many experiences which have boosted my confidence and developed my ability to work as part of a team. I really valued my time here and will always remember the people and experiences I had!
Student on placement from University of Birmingham