In the last two decades there has been extensive research into the links between the working environment and mental health. The days of soulless, brutalist concrete office blocks are drawing to a close as companies invest heavily in creating environments that bridge the gap between professional spaces and the outside world. This idea that our happiness and productivity can be influenced by where we work has certainly shown itself to be true.
Driving into Scone Palace at the start of a working day is daily proof of this theory. As soon as you turn into the drive your spirits are lifted. The first of the days visitors may be on their way, but for a short while, you have the palace and it’s grounds all to yourself. As you look up towards the castellations, often you’ll see one of the fifteen peacocks heralding your arrival with one of its many calls. But Scone Palace is more than just a beautiful place to work, it’s an important one too, because when you work at Scone Palace, you are playing your part in promoting this extraordinary building and preserving it for future generations.
Being a guide at Scone is a very special job because not only are you ensuring the visitors have an enjoyable experience but you are also helping to bring Scottish history alive for them. It can be daunting at first. You may worry that your basic, fragmented knowledge of Scottish history from your school days won’t be enough, but in truth, you don’t need to know it all from day one. Your knowledge of the palace and its links to important historical events will grow steadily as your first season progresses. You will learn things without even knowing it through conversations with fellow guides and visitors. And as the years go by, each season will bring new discoveries and greater knowledge.
It is also a happy place to work. Visitors to Scone are mostly holiday makers or families who have decided to take a day out. They arrive at the Ticket Hut full of optimism and excitement. Of course we get the odd visitor, usually a stressed parent who has had the children arguing in the back of the car for most of the journey, but even they can be soothed by a good story and a buttered scone! A holiday or a day out is a chance for people to escape their realities for a while and you are there to give them that well-earned chance for a rest; a chance just to simply breathe. And no matter how busy it gets as the season gets underway, there is always the chance for you to breathe too. Although there is a fully equipped staff room, a lot of colleagues will often take their gratuity scone and free coffee, and take a walk around the grounds, perhaps even sit quietly on a bench for a while, and just listen to the sounds of the year as it gently passes by, before heading back in to captivate visitors with stories of battles, crownings and royal visitors.
There are other roles to take on too, not just guiding. Being part of the catering team is also another key role in ensuring that visitors have an enjoyable time, and the visitors are always pleased to see you. After a walk around the grounds on a cold day, their faces light up as you hand them a bowl of warm, soothing homemade soup. And similarly in the summer months, when you alone hold the promise of tea and cake in grounds, for a brief moment, you become that visitor’s saviour! And each time, you know that you are serving food that is freshly prepared, using ingredients grown on the very estate with zero food miles.
But for most of the seasonal team at Scone Palace, the overall benefit is the flexibility, both throughout the season and during the working day. You will be asked when you are available to work and the rotas are built around you. And when the season ends, and we close the house down for a much-needed rest, you too can relish in a long winter break until the daffodils are out once again on Moot Hill.
29th March 2023
01st September 2022