THE National Trust has appointed a general manager for Greys Court and Nuffield Place.
Jane Greenhaf, 52, started in the new position last month before the properties open for the new season on March 1.
The former banker has worked for the trust since 2010, when she became project manager at 18th-century Antony House in Cornwall.
A year later she was appointed operations manager at Greys Court when it re-opened following two-and-a-half years of restoration.
Now the Grade I listed Tudor mansion in Rotherfield Greys is extending its opening hours while the trust has also taken over Nuffield Place, the family home of Morris Motor Cars founder and philanthropist William Morris.
The two estates, which are just under six miles apart, are expected to attract 111,000 people this year.
Greys Court will be open seven days a week instead of five and as well as its usual summer season, which runs from March 1 until October 31, it will open from December 1 to 23 as well.
The car park is also being resurfaced in time for the new season and it is hoped to expand the cafés at both attractions.
Mrs Greenhaf, who lives in staff accommodation at Greys Court with her 60-year-old husband Barry, a retired engineer, has a team of 40 staff and more than 250 volunteers. She said she was “very excited” and proud of her new role.
“It’s a huge challenge but it’s also an amazing privilege,” she said. “Since coming to Greys Court, we’ve been made to feel so welcome by the staff, volunteers and the local community, which we feel very much part of.”
Mrs Greenhaf, who comes from Barry in South Wales, studied banking at university and worked for Barclays, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank before deciding on a career change three years ago.
She said: “Call it a mid-life crisis or just a light-bulb moment, I wanted to do something that fitted with my values. I wanted to know I was making some kind of difference.
“It was an enormous culture shock coming from a modern city centre office to a converted single garage but it made me feel alive.
“I haven’t had a day’s regret in the four years since I took the first job — as twee as it sounds, it felt like coming home.” In her year at Antony House, the number of visitors rocketed from 25,000 to 100,000 after the property appeared in Tim Burton’s film Alice In Wonderland.
At Greys Court the following year, there were more than 80,000 visitors, double the expected total.
Mrs Greenhaf said: “I’d like to think I’ve got the Midas touch but it had nothing to do with me — people wanted to see Greys Court after it had been closed for so long.
“Now that we’re opening for seven days, people have far more opportunities to come and visit. With Nuffield Place also open, there are also more opportunities for staff and volunteers, so
Most of Greys Court as it stands today was built in the early 1500s by Sir Francis Knollys, who was treasurer to Elizabeth I. He demolished the medieval building on the site so only part of a tower remains.
In 1935, it was taken over by Evelyn Fleming, the mother of James Bond author Ian Fleming, and sold to the Brunner family two years later. The Brunners donated it to the National Trust in 1969.
Nuffield Place was built in 1914 and was Lord Nuffield’s home from 1933 until his death in 1963.
Since then, the decor and most of the motoring pioneer’s possessions have remained untouched.
The National Trust opened the house to the public after raising £600,000 to fund its upkeep last year.
Anyone interested in volunteering at either property should call (01491) 628529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org