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An interview with Michelle, a Dressing Room Volunteer with what it’s like to volunteer in the Dressing Room at Lyme


I love being able to add even more joy to someone’s visit

What brought you to volunteering at Lyme?

In Spring  2022 I was scrolling on Facebook and came across a post about volunteering in the dressing room at Lyme. One of my hobbies is Regency Costuming , so being able to share my interest at a very special place (I’d visited Lyme often as a child and teen) was an opportunity too good to miss!

What do you do?

In the dressing room we offer visitors the opportunity to make their visit to Lyme really immersive by dressing in costume of the Regency era.Visitors can then tour the house, gardens, the tea room in the costumes. It really brings the house alive to see different groups in the costumes and gives visitors a new level of engaging with the house and its history.

A day’s volunteering begins with ironing costumes that have been washed and dried on the previous shift, checking for any needed repairs and then making sure the room is all in order, with garments ranged in size order.

We can dress all ages sizes and genders which I think is really unique -often a dressing up section might be for just children, or just a few pieces. We offer full outfits including all the accessories of hats, gloves, parasols ,walking canes and quizzing glasses! Sometimes people might choose to just try on the costumes for a quick photo in the room or don’t want to try on the clothes but are interested in seeing them and hearing about the clothes and etiquette of the Regency era.

We organise returns of costumes, making sure visitors have retrieved all their own belongings from the lockers and changing rooms, and put worn clothes for the wash. All the costumes have been made by volunteers so being able to make and repair the costumes can be part of the role if you sew (but not essential if this isn’t for you).

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering at Lyme?

Being able to add even more joy to someone’s visit- so many of our visitors tell us that the dressing room experience has made their day! Grandchildren love that not only can they dress up but so can Grandma and Grandad.We’ve had visitors who’ve returned many times and even a gentleman who dressed up with his girlfriend and then proposed!

I’ve never had a day where it hasn’t been enormous fun .Volunteering has become an important part looking after my wellbeing- I work full time with teenagers with poor mental health and a day at Lyme keeps my batteries charged.

There are vacancies in the House Engagement and Dressing Room volunteer teams at Lyme, to find out more visit myvolunteering - National Trust