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11 Mar 2020

Life as a costumed guide

Woman in period costume in a rooms with paintings lining the walls
To help bring the story of our places to life, we like to get into character! Here we speak to Angela at Brodick, who is part of our costumed team, to find out how she got started and what tales she loves to tell.

Angela Robinson – staff member at Brodick Castle

Woman in period costume sitting on a chesterfield sofa in front of a bookcase
Angela in her Victorian governess’s costume

How long have you been working for the Trust?

I’ve been a room guide since May 2019. There are eight of us in total and we cover three sections of the castle. I’m in the rooms at least four times a week.

We’re always in costume and we work together as one big team to give visitors to Brodick a great experience. Every day is different!

Do you play a character? And what do you wear?

I’m dressed like a Victorian governess – in a blouse, a grey skirt and a bustle. I tell visitors all about Victorian governesses, and Lady Jean’s governesses in particular. They would do things like hide love letters in school books and teach nanny and Lady Jean (daughter of the 6th Duke of Montrose) all about horse racing.

What interesting things have you learned as a guide?

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited Brodick in 1902 – we’ve got a plaque near the small quayside in front of the castle, where they landed.

Also, James Hamilton, Duke of Chatelherault and 2nd Earl of Arran, was next in line to the throne after both of King James V of Scotland’s sons died in infancy. He would have been king if Mary, Queen of Scots hadn’t been born 6 days before James V died.

What kind of questions do visitors ask?

Where to start? People often ask if the stag heads are real (they are, and some of them are over 100 years old) and if I’m cold or uncomfortable in my costume. The answer is that it’s not the most comfy outfit, especially in the heat of summer, but it makes me feel ladylike and I love swishing my way down the main staircase!

Which stories from Brodick get the best reaction from visitors?

Probably the story of Lady Mary Victoria, who was the youngest child of the 11th Duke of Hamilton and Princess Marie of Baden, and the god-daughter of Queen Victoria.

Mary was married to Prince Albert I of Monaco, but she left Monaco and her husband after giving birth to their son, Louis II. The marriage was annulled in 1880, but the Monaco royal family stayed close with the Hamilton family. When Lady Jean died in 2017 they came to her funeral.

What do you enjoy most about the costumed role?

Engaging with visitors and learning new snippets or stories from them. And learning more about the castle and its history.

Any tips for people interested in volunteering?

Just make sure you enjoy what you’re doing and keep smiling! Never be afraid to ask questions and don’t try to memorise everything.

See what we’ve got coming up at Brodick Castle.

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