Crossing the Threshold of my Adopted Home

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This morning was the first time I was on my own in my adopted home of Stang End. Aside from needing to get to know as much as I could about the place, I wasn’t sure how to present myself with visitors.

It was a fine day. The sun was guarded by thin clouds but it was nice. It was certainly nice enough to be outside. With that in mind, I decided to read as much of the available bumph and then stand on the grass near the front door.

I thought doing so would be less scary for visitors. They would see someone was there and they could could say hello if they wanted to. I could also greet them anyway. Inside Stran End is quite dark with a series of rooms. If I was a visitor and encountered someone sat in one of them it might make me jump. I decided outside was best.

It was really nice. I met people from Leicester (yes, we did mention the rise and rise of that city with its football and King John the year before). I met people from Liverpool and from Wales. They were lovely folk too.

From further afield we had visitors from America and even from Hawaii! Fancy coming from half way around the world to be in front of this building together. It is one of the great things about being a volunteer. You get to meet people from every walk of life and from different countries and cultures.

I managed to read through the materials and pull a coherent story together. At the same time I was learning lots about the place and the way it was used. I was learning about the extent of the changes it had seen over 400 years and more.

It had gone from being a 1 room building half its current size to one substantially bigger with a number of rooms. It once had animals inside. It now presents an era in which its inhabitants were comparatively well off with animals outside in a strong outbuilding.

The thing which struck me the most was the entrance (pictured above). You would ordinarily see it as a straightforward hallway. It is a threshing floor! The owners would put corn on the floor and beat it with a flail. Doing this would give them the grain they needed.

More interestingly, it was this activity which gave rise to the phrase ‘crossing the threshold.’ It meant moving over the threshing floor.

I delighted in telling visitors this story. Everyone was really fascinated or entranced with the idea. You could feel we’d all learned something today. This was on the day when I had crossed the threshold of Stang End in my volunteer role for the first time.

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Stang End: The Start of A Journey

Today I became a volunteer at Ryedale Folk Museum (subject to references). This blog is my attempt to learn and understand my role. I want it to be a place to share my journey as a new volunteer.

Where does the title Stang End come from? It is the name of the building I have adopted as a volunteer. The idea is a relatively new initiative in the museum for a way of deploying volunteers.

The idea is that volunteers might be supported and useful by having responsibility for a building. For the word responsibility you could swap it for opportunity or focus. Plus, the choice is down to the individual.

I chose Stang End because it has a garden and some outbuildings. It also has a wonderful interior. I’ll try and take a photograph of the interior if I can. I’ll post it on here later.

So, this blog will be about a developing understanding of what it means to be a volunteer in a museum. It will also be about Stang End itself. I will use it to build up and share my understanding of Stang End as a building, who lived there and how they lived there.

I want to say something about the museum and its location. Of course, I’m biased but very few would disagree its in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Its a wonderful North Yorkshire village and if ever there was a chocolate box village this is a candidate.

So, from my experience I can say there are all kinds of reasons to visit Ryedale Folk Museum. One is the museum. Another is the village including pubs & cafes nearby.Then there is the marvellous surrounding countryside. When you leave the museum drive to Rosedale Abbey and pass through the most glorious countryside. And finally, I hope you will come and see Stang End!