After the business of the 2013  AGM and the interval were over, Jane Greenhaf gave an illustrated talk on managing a National Trust property.  Jane has been the Property Services Manager at Greys Court for around three years and from 1st March this year she will be the General Manager for Greys Court and Nuffield Place.

Jane spoke about her career in banking and her ‘midlife crisis’ which saw her finding one day that she really did not want to continue working in banking but instead she wanted to work for the National Trust.  She had previously worked as a volunteer for the Trust and so she applied for positions but had to wait a year before she was given a year’s contract at Anthony House.  She explained that she took a 75% pay cut, which made her mother wonder if she knew what she was doing.  Whilst there she completed several projects and found she loved the work but needed to find a more permanent post, which is how she came to be at Greys Court along with her retired husband.

She arrived after the house had been closed for two years for essential works.That year the property received far more visitors than had ever been envisaged.  Jane decided the property needed a proper shop which was duly built and has been a great success.  Subsequently a new greenhouse has been built and the car park has been completely remodelled.  However it hasn’t been without problems as when the foundations for the greenhouse were being excavated every type of asbestos was found.  This had been dumped during the 1930s.  The shop too hit a problem when the builders thought they had discovered a well.  Luckily the National Trust archaeologist was able to confirm it was a 20th century soakaway.    The next projects are a woodland play area and a new tearoom.  Once the tearoom is moved from the Cromwellian Stables work will be needed to turn this into an interpretation area.

Greys Court has proved popular over the past couple of years with television companies.  Midsomer Murders, Poirot and Downton Abbey have been amongst the programmes using Greys Court for filming.  This of course helps raise money but Jane also spoke of the money that the National Trust Associations contribute as playing an important part in completing projects.

Jane spoke of her love for Greys Court and how she is so glad that she now has a job where she feels she is doing something fulfilling and worthwhile.


Chris Elam