On Thursday we were given a ghost tour at Ham House. I thought it was brilliant and really fascinating. Although we have had other tours of the house and had been told a lot of the history of it, i felt as though we were really given an insight into how Elizabeth and her family lived .... (and died!!)
Some of the rooms i hadn't seen before, and although I'm not sure whether i believe in ghosts or not ... i definitely felt a chill in the chapel! The 2 guides who took the tour were funny and clearly very passionate about the house and its history. Their anecdotes really helped to set the scene and made the tour very accessible to all ages.
If we are going to start to try and 'revamp' some of the tours then i think we should look at this one as a good starting point. It's definitely important to make the visitors connect to the material, just like a theatre audience. If you are just telling them facts then it becomes quite boring and they lose interest. Stories or bits of gossip are quite funny and mean that the visitors can start to remember that these were real people. They aren't just paintings on the wall, but actually lived, breathed, laughed and cried here and i think that appeals to all ages.
Its so much more interesting when you try to imagine how they lived and what they did in the house.
Another good example of this was on the behind the scenes tour when we were shown the graffiti on the window. A young servant at the house called John McFarland had fallen in love with another girl called Emily, but they couldn't be together as she was already engaged to someone else. He had scratched her name on a window and then committed suicide. This isn't shown to visitors of the house, which is a shame as i felt that it brought the house to life for me.
The Christmas stories are a great chance for us to do this. It will bring people to the house who may not have been before and will hopefully encourage them to come back.