Share this page

Volunteer’s Week 2023 - Spotlight on our Collections Care Volunteers: Part 2

In the first part of this two-part series for Volunteer’s Week 2023, Collections Care Assistant Amy Davies sat down with some volunteers who currently support the Collections department to find out about their volunteering experience. In part two she explores their favourite items in our collections and what they’ve learned while volunteering for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Amy Davies

What is your favourite item in the collection?


The Anglo-Saxon situla (bucket) that recently went on loan to the Ad Gefrin museum in Northumberland. I found it absolutely fascinating because by looking closely you can actually see how it was made over 1000 years ago. It was also something that was excavated locally so it’s a link to the people that used to live in this part of Britain before the Norman conquest.

An Anglo-Saxon situla which looks recognisably like a bucket, with decayed wooden sides bound with corroded metal strips. There is a hinged handle at the top.
An Anglo-Saxon situla (bucket) that dates from the 6th century, STRST : SBT 2004-65/8


My favourite item in the collection is the sweet bag that dates to the late 1500s. It’s made of pink silk satin and embroidered with coloured silks, metal threads and sequins, and it would have been used to carry sweet-smelling herbs or perhaps keepsakes. It was amazing to be handling something so intricate and delicate.

A sweet bag that dates from the late 1500s. It has a red background and is finely decorated with yellow flowers and green leaves.
A sweet bag that dates from the late 1500s, STRST : SBT 1992-86
Volunteer Will assisting with an exhibition installation, cleaning a glass display case inside which are two small brown earthenware jugs.
Volunteer Will

What have you learnt during your time as a Collections Care Volunteer?


I’m more aware of the work of the collections department and just how much it involves. I am learning a variety of techniques of how to properly care for the artefacts.


I have learnt how the operations run behind the scenes of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and also how individuals like myself can help to look after the history of these places.

Volunteer Rodger cleaning a medicine jar from the 1600s. He is sat at a large table and is wearing purple gloves. The medicine jar is white with green decoration.
Volunteer Rodger

Why do you think volunteering is important?


I think volunteering is important for both sides. For the organisation volunteering helps to give support to the core staff which is important. From the volunteer’s point of view, especially if retired, it keeps your mind active and gives you a sense of purpose. It’s easy to lose sight of the order in your life as you get older, so it gives you something to look forward to and it allows you to meet other people.


It’s a way of supplementing the workforces of organisations that contribute to the culture of the country. It gives local people an opportunity to feel part of their community and the things that are going on locally. For retired people it helps to keep your mind active and sometimes you can use skills which you had developed during your working life to the benefit of the organisation you’re volunteering with. You learn a lot of things that you didn’t know before because it wasn’t tied in with your previous professional life. It has certainly broadened my knowledge and understanding in many different areas.

The Collections department would like to take this opportunity to thank our wonderful volunteers who have given their time in support of the museum, library and archive. We are incredibly grateful and it’s lovely to have you all as part of the team. Happy Volunteer’s Week 2023!

If you are interested in volunteering with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust visit our volunteer page to see the latest opportunities.