History student in Lancaster Castle staircase

Heritage Work Placements

One of our heritage placements will allow you to gain invaluable work experience and enhance your employability.

In your second year studying History at Lancaster you can choose to apply for a Heritage Placement - working with one of our regional heritage partners in the arts and heritage sectors across the North West.

Our partners include the National Trust, the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston, the Duchy of Lancaster and the Keswick Museum & Art Gallery.

The placements may involve any of the following activities:

  • Curating virtual exhibitions
  • Repurposing, cataloguing, and contextualising existing resources
  • Creating and running public workshops, including for schools or families
  • Producing informative literature
  • checking historic inventories
  • Working with oral history resources including transcription
  • Setting up activity trails
  • Rebuilding the online profile of the organisation

keep reading for the experiences of some of our students who completed successful placements.

An illustrated letter by Percy Kelly
One of Percy Kelly's illustrated letters from January 1982

Hands-on work with primary sources

I did my placement at the Cumbria Archive Service at the Whitehaven Archive and worked on the letters of the Cumbrian artist Percy Kelly (1918-1993).

Kelly was raised male and married twice but also identified as ‘Roberta’ and explored his identity through clothes and make-up. During the 1980s, he wrote pages and pages of illustrated letters to his friend, Joan David. He signed his letters with ‘Bob’ or ‘Roberta’ depending on whom he felt more connected to when he wrote.

I prepared these letters for the online catalogue being created by the Whitehaven Archive. It was fascinating to learn so much about Kelly, as an artist and as a person who reflected on his gender, identity and his work as an artist.  He was reluctant to sell or exhibit his paintings and kept a large collection of what is now considered his best work.

I really enjoyed this hands-on work with primary sources, uncovering and solving problems while learning more about an important and fascinating artist.

Ruth Truscott

A great way to get some museums experience

I first applied to the heritage work placement scheme because it seemed like a great way to get some museums experience, without needing the time or money a full-time internship would require. For anyone who’s wondering whether this kind of a career’s right for them, it’s a chance to try it out in a supported environment, giving up as much or as little time as you can offer.

I applied for more than one placement, but got my first choice, the ‘Tales from the Jetty’. Though the placement was ‘officially’ run by the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories, it’s still under construction, and so instead I was based at the Abbot Hall Art Gallery (both are run by the Lakeland Arts heritage organisation).

I chose the placement for the location - Kendal, in the Lake District - but mainly for the content of the work. In Kendal, though, my brief was to create accessible (but in-depth) research profiles of prominent individuals who had strong personal connections to Windermere, and subsequently helped to boost its tourism trade.

I felt this would let me do what I’m good at, and also would allow me to do something the centre would get some long-term use out of after my placement ended.

Toby Parsonage

Surrounded by books and seventeenth century tapestries

On my first visit to Sizergh Castle, after meeting the National Trust staff (who were all really friendly) and our coordinator Matt, we were given a tour of the castle.

I was amazed by the castle’s rooms, in particular the Elizabethan Inlaid Chamber. Complete with oak panelled walls, heraldic glass windows and a carved, inlaid state bed, the room was stunning.

The castle remains to this day the home of the Strickland family. It was fascinating for me when working in the library - home to hundreds of books and three huge seventeenth-century tapestries - to also be surrounded by modern appliances like TVs, electric radiators, and a huge array of family photographs.

I would most definitely recommend to other students to get involved with a heritage work placement! Not only does it look good on paper to future employers but it gives you the opportunity to improve so many skills whilst having fun helping you make decisions about where you want to take your degree.

Shona Thompson