June fell in love with history at the age of five, when her father took her to the Nelson Museum in Monmouth.  She later attended the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and subsequently ran a small theatre company in  North  London.  When her son was born, she returned to her first love and studied for an M.A. in History.  June's husband’s work took them abroad, to the Middle and Far East.  In Singapore and Hong Kong, she worked in Museums and widened  her knowledge of world history.  On her  return to the U.K. in 2002 the Daveys settled in West Horsley. 

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

A- A neighbour, Wendy Rumble, took me to St. Mary’s Church, where I met Pam Bowley, who had written books about the Horsley villages as well as WHP. There was also an opportunity to talk with the Duchess of Roxburghe.  The long, strong link between Church, Manor and Village, and the characters involved throughout the centuries was fascinating. I had noticed the warm brick façade and the fine manor house aspect while walking doggies in the nearby fields and wondered about its story.

Q- What was your first visit like?

A- In 2014, I was taken to WHP for a  visit by Alan Bowley.   That was it!  It was a truly evocative experience. The Stone Hall was impressive, and one could easily visualise  the medieval hall house at the centre. Looking out of the window in the Geraldine Room, it was easy to imagine the house in Tudor times, and I could have lived in the wonderfully eclectic library for a year!

Q-What made you want to volunteer here?

A- Volunteering  at Clandon Park, I was enjoying  stewarding and giving tours and talks.  But writing articles about Horsley village history for Horsley Conservation and Preservation Society and organising local  Heritage tours made WHP, with its rich history, more and more intriguing.  Meeting Bamber,  through organising a Village Heritage Tour, and hearing his vision for the future of the house whetted my appetite.  Then, one day, returning dishevelled from a doggie walk, I found a lovely person on my doorstep, her name was Clare Clinton, and I was well and truly on board.

Q- What volunteering roles have you taken on?

A-My first guiding stint at  the house for the first Heritage Open Days Weekend in 2017, entailed a tour every half hour for about three hours and I loved every single minute of it: the enthusiasm and interest of the visitors was inspiring.  Since then, there have been more tours and room stewarding opportunities. In 2018, Clare asked  if I would  give power point presentations about the house and its future to local organisations,  and there have been around 20 to date, the most recent given via Zoom.  Researching and writing articles for the WHP newsletter has been a wonderful voyage of discovery.

Q- As an ambassador for WHP, giving talks to local organisations, what sort of response do you get?

A- The response is very enthusiastic: there is a real sense of WHP emerging   as  ‘our’ house and local centre.  WHP has been something of a secret house for a few years, so interest has been stimulated and there is a real enthusiasm and gratitude for the Trust’s vision. This was the site of our Saxon village,  it has been part of our village history for centuries, every audience responds to this and they also delight in the stories of the intriguing characters who have lived in the house.

Q- Do you have a favourite WHP story amongst the articles you've written on the history of the property?

A- WHP is a house which is full of engaging stories. Poor James de Berners,  whose stained glass window memorial is in St.Mary’s Church.  He was executed – ‘a lustie younge man’ in 1388 for being too close to the boy king Richard II.  I loved researching Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter.  Visitors enjoy details of the feast he gave for Henry VIII. Courtenay  had his own fool, William Tremayle, and loved music. The house must have been full of music and laughter when he lived in it.  He also loved making up his own verses.  There is an   apocryphal story, about him singing risque songs – by the sun dial in the garden -  about the king’s love life, and being overheard by Thomas Cromwell, sadly, I can’t verify this.  But Plantagenet descendant and Catholic, Courtenay had certainly fallen foul of Machiavellian Cromwell, and didn’t really stand a chance, losing his head in 1538.  But lately, research on the Marquess and Marchioness of Crewe has been very absorbing.  He often appears rather aloof, but I found a book of his poetry and a biography by James Pope-Hennessey, and a different character began to emerge.  Lady Crewe was a great beauty, and a champion for the advancement of women in many spheres.  Her support for the Free French in Britain during WW2 earned her the Legion d’honneur.

Q-Why do you think it is important to volunteer for local charities?

A-We often read about people being lonely and depressed,  so what better antidote than to give time and knowledge to support local charities. The WHP Trust has at its heart a vision for many facets of our local culture, history and environment. The opportunity to share this with our villages is both important and rewarding.

Q-What have you gained from volunteering at WHP?

A-Where shall I start?  Researching the history and communicating the stories to visitors has been pure joy.  I’ve even been on television, and that was a learning process! It has been a real privilege to be a part of the Trust’s work.  I’ve also made some lovely friends!

Q-What is your  favourite room or  space at WHP?

A- Once again I am spoiled for choice: the Tudor part of the house is so evocative, and the Red Drawing Room is a delight and a perfect place to tell the story of Sir Walter Raleigh’s head.  But it has to be the library, plus of course the doorway with witches’ marks protecting the house from unwelcome enchanters:  Sadly, I haven’t yet found any witches or wizards among our many visitors.

Q-What makes you excited about the future of WHP?

A- One of the many joys has been the progress with the restoration of the house and outbuildings by the outstanding builders. There has been a positive encouragement of young talent in conservation and restoration skills.   Much has been achieved, but there are still many more challenges. When restoration and the vision are complete, WHP will be a beating heart in the creative side of our community and an asset for all to enjoy.