WHP Trustee Marilyn Scott in the library

Marilyn has worked in museums, galleries and heritage attractions for over 25 years. She is currently Director of the award-winning Lightbox in Woking Surrey, winner of The Art Fund Prize in 2008. She project-managed the Lightbox from feasibility study to opening of the building in 2007, having raised £7.2m for the construction and fit-out. Marilyn has worked in national museums, at both the V&A and Science Museum and for The National Trust. She is currently a Trustee of The Geffrye Museum and Brooklands Museum, Weald and Downland Museum and West Horsley Place Trust and a Council member for AIM. She is a mentor to a number of small volunteer-run museums seeking accreditation and a mentor for The Museums Association AMA scheme.  Marilyn has wide experience in the consulting field and her areas of specialism include fundraising, income generation and sustainability, strategic and business planning and managing volunteers. She also has extensive experience of managing organisations within a charity framework and works with Trustees to improve and enhance governance.

Marilyn also has international experience and works as a consultant for The British Council advising museums and galleries on business models and staff development. She has recently worked in Russia, China, Slovenia, Taiwan, Georgia and Pakistan.  

Q- How did you first hear about West Horsley Place?

A- I have lived in the area for 30 years and both my children went to the Raleigh School so I knew about WHP because it was nearby but then of course it was still owned by the Duchess of Roxburghe and there were many stories about the house. I was intrigued when I heard that it had been inherited by Bamber and I wondered what would happen to it.

Q-Can you remember your first visit; what was that experience like?

A- I visited with a group of local historians when the house restoration was at very early stages. It was early Spring and freezing but the magic of the house absolutely got to me and I could immediately see the amazing potential to make this somewhere very special.

Q- How did you come to be formally involved?

The library window seatA- I had some vague connections – Peter Pearce (former Director of WHP) and I had worked for the National Trust at the same time and I knew Bamber from many years ago when I worked at The Museum of Richmond so I watched the progress of the house with interest and then offered some advice in the early stages, which then lead on to being invited to serve as a Trustee, which is a fantastic privilege.

Q- As Director of the Lightbox, Woking, what do you think WHP can bring to the already rich Surrey arts, heritage & culture scene?

A- Our vision for WHP is very different to that of a usual country house and certainly different to National Trust properties. We believe we can create something very special, which takes quality of life and wellbeing as its guiding principle. We do not see WHP as a centre for mass tourism but a place of calm and a place where creativity thrives.

Q- In the challenging climate of Covid-19 why are arts and culture important?

A- We all need things of beauty and things to make life worth living and art has the power to transport us away from the difficulties of today and concentrate on things that bring joy and pleasure.

Q- What is your favourite room/space at WHP and why?

A- I love the library – it transports you back in time and I can imagine myself sitting in the window seat surrounded by fascinating books but with a delightful view through the window. It is also a slightly mysterious space with the witches' marks on the doorposts so you can imagine many spirits are still wandering here.

Q- What talent would you most like to possess?

A- I would love to be able to paint and draw but it’s skipped a generation, my father was a very good artist and both my children are very artistic, one is an artist and the other an architect but sadly it passed me by!

Q- In another life you would have been. . .

A-I would definitely come back as a cat – my own spends her days luxuriating on a fur blanket with constant meals and strokes, couldn’t be better!

Q- I'm still giggling from the answer above! Ahem. What inspires you?

A- I am inspired by my many friends and colleagues who work in the cultural sector, no one is well paid or does their jobs for financial gain, in fact many work for nothing but they all share an immense passion for heritage and the arts and a belief that it is such a crucial part of all our lives. I have been amazed during the pandemic how determined they have been to get every garden, museum and historic house back open again because they truly believe the enormous worth of these places and the value to our lives.

Q- What makes you most excited in West Horsley Place Trust's vision for the future?

A- The undoubted opportunity to create something very special, which will in years to come be enjoyed by many and will undoubtedly have a profound effect for good on the lives of many people