One of the joys of volunteering at a country mansion house is the chance to really drink in the antique feel of the building and its furnishings and effects. When you visit one of these august old houses, you wander round just peering at walls, floors, room settings and it seems quite interesting, but at the end of the day, it is just museum to be looked at – you get no feeling for the families that owned it and lived there. I’ve come to realise this after a couple of years helping at a house that still had a family member owning it as recently as the very late 1990s. The huse was built in 1732 and had been bought and sold by three families during this time. The last owning family leased it out for some years to a redoubtable American heiress who came over with her husband for political reasons. She then spent vast sums of her own money making the house more comfortable with her own individual decorating style. Each room has been left with her inprint and huge numbers of visitors come to view various room settings just to drink in her very popular and well known style.