From driving trucks to travelling back in time

Maurice Finch, 75, has been volunteering at Eastbury Manor House in Barking for 16 years. He lives with his wife Laura in Perth Road, Barking.

I was still driving trucks at Ford when I first started volunteering at Eastbury Manor House.

My wife started helping out there and she suggested I go along too.

The manager at the time, Cherry Buckley, asked if I wanted to be a guide.

I told her that I didn’t know anything about Eastbury Manor House and she said: “Go to the library then and do some reading.”

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I followed her advice and before long I was a guide.

My role involves taking visitors around the house, which was built almost 500 years ago, during the Tudor period.

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I tell them how it was built and point out the hearts, clovers and diamond shapes on the outside, which is typical of Tudor architecture.

There aren’t any spades as this was considered unlucky.

I also show them the many rooms and explain how the family and the servants lived during this period.

In the kitchen, for example, it was only men who did the cooking because they found that the women’s long skirts would often catch fire.

When I’m guiding I wear a Tudor outfit. Although I don’t consciously go into character, people have said my accent changes when I’m taking visitors around, so maybe I do it without thinking.

Sometimes school groups come to see the house. They love the costume and enjoy it when I come in and say: “Good morrow, lords and ladies.”

Someone asked me once if I ever get bored doing this job, especially after 16 years.

But how can I get bored? On every tour I meet new people, so every day is different.

I also find the Tudor era fascinating and love talking about it. I hope the tours continue for many years to come.

It’s important that people get the chance to see and learn about Eastbury Manor House. It’s a beautiful place with a wonderful history.

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