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Spring clean at historic Charleston

Electricity workers tackled a big spring clean at Charleston Farmhouse near Firle during Volunteers’ Week.

From Press releases - 8 June 2015 12:00 AM

Spring clean at Charleston 2.jpg

Electricity workers tackled a big spring clean at Charleston Farmhouse near Firle during Volunteers’ Week.

Nineteen staff from UK Power Networks spent Friday (June 5) making the house and grounds spick and span for thousands of visitors. The house, near Lewes, is famous for the art and literature of the Bloomsbury group who made the farmhouse their home in the early 20th century.

The staff, who work in the power company’s legal team in Three Bridges, Crawley, swapped their usual phones and computers to pick litter in the car park and lanes, tidy a barn, prune trees, clean signage, wash windows, carry out visitor surveys, help with archiving and support fund raising initiatives.

UK Power Networks gives staff two paid days a year to get involved in voluntary work across the South East, London and East Anglia, the three regions where it owns, maintains and operates the electricity network for 8.1 million homes and businesses. Last year employees spent more than 4,200 volunteering hours working with local charities and conservation groups, its biggest ever year of volunteering.

Kim Colella, a team assistant, explained: “It felt like we made a really positive contribution. Everything looked neat and tidy afterwards and it was rewarding to see the finished effect.

“It’s a really interesting place and it was good to be tackling the jobs they don’t have time to reach. It was great fun, in a lovely setting, working with a friendly team. They couldn’t do enough for us.

“We did the tidying up and they showed us round the house. There used to be artists living there so every wall is hand-painted. It is quite something, has loads of character and the gardens are beautiful.”

The house is cared for by a charitable trust which depends on the support of volunteers and fund raising.

Dr Darren Clarke, curator, said: “The volunteers did all sorts of work for us and were very helpful. Everyone here has so many roles and things to do that it was great to have a group of enthusiastic helpers to do all the jobs we would like to reach, but don’t always get round to.

“An independent charitable trust looks after the farmhouse so we don’t receive any state funding and rely on income from visitors and support from volunteers. Volunteers help with stewarding, conservation, cleaning and looking after our public programming so they are very important to us.”

Charleston was the country meeting place for writers, painters and intellectuals. The artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved to the house in 1916 with their bohemian household. Inspired by Italian fresco painting the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture and redesigned the garden in a south European style.