Meet the team

Nik Stewart

Shaw House Manager

I have been the manager at Shaw House since 2013 but was already working here as the Training Officer for the wider Council. The thing that I enjoy most about my job is the people, from colleagues, conference customers or visitors having a look around or attending one of our many events. We have a fantastic venue here and it’s great to share it with so many people.

My favourite events are the Fairs, open air cinemas and theatres. It’s a real buzz seeing so many people here enjoying themselves.

What is your favourite room in the House?
Where to start? The King Charles Room with its splendour and history. The Pink and Rose Room where we spend so much time as a team working and planning. I am going to say Dolman 3. It’s small, unpretentious and functional. It works hard for it’s living as it has a variety of uses and it’s where I had my interview for this job which was obviously important for me! I have to say I do like being out and about in the grounds looking back at the House. When you visit you should try it!

What are your hobbies?
I have a degree in Sport Studies and sport in general is my main hobby, whether watching, playing or reading. I played cricket for Thatcham Town for many years and am a lifelong supporter of Reading FC and am a season ticket holder – your sympathies are appreciated!

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I worked at Lord’s Cricket Ground as Manager of their incredibly successful guided tours and Museum for 16 years. It was a fantastic job and a dream for a cricket fan like myself. I commuted everyday from Thatcham and eventually I decided that I wanted to work closer to home as I would be able to spend more time with my family rather than on a train. Lord’s offered me so many opportunities and I even managed to play and score a half century there – which if you had ever seen me bat you would know was bordering on the miraculous!


nik.stewart@westberks.gov.uk

Heather Evans

Business Development Officer

I started working at Shaw House in 2014 and I love my job because my role is so varied and I get involved with lots of different types of bookings and events. Every enquiry is different, I could be taking calls from brides, theatre companies, paranormal groups, wedding fair organisers, charities or funeral directors and the list goes on!

I also provide show rounds to people who are planning events or corporate bookings as well as assisting with marketing and promotions.

I love the events, especially when the excitement of Christmas builds and the House has been decorated, or the anticipation of everyone arriving for the Summer Fair, seeing people enjoying themselves makes all the hard work worthwhile.

What are your hobbies?
My hobbies are staying in historical buildings. I have stayed in many Landmark Trust properties and enjoy visiting historical locations. I also have two dogs which need lots of walking and two cats to keep me busy!

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I have a qualification in wine tasting.


heather.evans@westberks.gov.uk

Judith Mundy

Visitor Services Officer

I have been involved with Shaw House since 2004 when I worked for the Builders (Sapcote) who restored the House, as their Administration Officer. In 2006 I started with West Berkshire Council as Bookings and Information Officer for Shaw House and then in 2008 I moved back to the House and became a Visitors Services Officer and have been in that positions ever since.

I help facilitate the smooth running of the House whether in Conference mode or open to the public, I love my job because it is so varied and no two days are the same. One of my responsibilities is to coordinate the Summer and Christmas Fairs which I really enjoy along with decorating the House ready for special events.

What is your favourite room in the House?
It’s difficult to choose my favourite room in the House - Dolman 1 is so light and bright, King Charles is rich and warm and the Chandos is so elegant – I like them all!

What are your hobbies?
Sewing is my passion, especially patchwork., plus walking, Ceroc and line dancing.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I qualified as a hairdresser in my early 50’s and sang in a band when I was 16!


judith.mundy@westberks.gov.uk

Stuart Gorham

Visitor Services Officer


I escaped from Facilities in the corporate buildings to Shaw House in 2013.

A typical day as a VSO is to manage everything from the facilities and bookings for the day, making sure that all of the room are set up correctly, assisting the trainers in setting any technical equipment and wifi. On busy days marshalling the car park is essential. And then when all the rooms are settled, I tend to the gardens and manage other projects in the grounds.

The most satisfying aspect of my job is meeting the diverse selection of people who come to Shaw House and ensuring they have a good experience and leave wanting to visit again.

I enjoy all the events especially ones where the whole team has planned and worked together and we have provided an enjoyable day for our visitors.

What is your favourite room in the House?
My favourite room in the house is the cafe. I find the cafe generates an informal atmosphere where people can relax. It has many interesting and original features which consistently engage even the most casual visitor and lead them on to ask questions and take an interest in the house whilst enjoying the healthy refreshments on offer.

What are your hobbies?
Travel, astronomy, bird watching, listening to music and gardening.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I have worked as film extra in India.


stuart.gorham@westberks.gov.uk

Adam Elliott

Visitor Services Officer

I have worked at Shaw House since 2010, first as a casual staff member and then I joined on a permanent basis.

I really enjoy working with different people every day, as well as planning and helping to run events. Part of my role is to encourage local youth groups such as Scouts and Guides to interact with the House and grounds and talking to them about the history of the building and town.

What is your favourite room in the House?
The King Charles; it’s one of only two in the House with the original panelling installed in the correct place. The panels are fitted really well, giving the fireplace a good frame, combined with the deep red carpets it creates a really atmospheric mood.

What are your hobbies?
I am a Scout Leader and run my own troop on a Monday evening, delivering an interesting, educational and fun programme to 22 children aged 10-14 year olds. We camp 3 or 4 times a year, mostly weekend camps with one large week long Summer Camp

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I once jumped off of a 30 foot cliff into a lagoon on the coast of Wales.


adam.elliott@westberks.gov.uk

Christine Anstie

Senior Visitor Services Assistant

I have been working at Shaw House for three years. I really like meeting and welcoming people, especially visitors that show a lot of interest in the House, it’s lovely listening to how much they enjoy walking around each of the rooms!

Do you have a favorite room?
Dolman 1 is my favourite because it is always so bright and has a great view of the grounds.

Do you have any hobbies?
I love to spend time with my family, walking my lovely loyal dog and reading.


christine.anstie@westberks.gov.uk

Nicola Baker

Visitor Services Assistant

I am delighted to be joining the team at Shaw House as Visitor Services Assistant. As I am local to the area and studied history at university, I am really looking forward to learning all the history and stories behind the House, helping at events and ensuring all our visitors have the best possible experience.

What is your favourite room in the House?
I am still enjoying getting to know all the rooms but I'm sure I will have a favourite soon. It is certainly a unique and fascinating place to work.

What are your hobbies?
I love spending any free time with my family and friends. I am also a keen runner and enjoy taking part in organised races, although a lot of my spare time is spent 'running' around after my two children and their extra curricular activities!


nicola.baker@westberks.gov.uk

Joy Aldridge

Catering Assistant

I recently joined the team at Shaw House in March 2017. I love the beauty and history of the rooms and grounds. In my role as catering assistant I enjoy meeting and talking to the various visitors to the house and café. I feel lucky to be working in such a wonderful place.

What is your favourite room?
The Chandos Dining Room is such a grand and imposing space, it makes the perfect setting for our Friday afternoon teas and drinks receptions.

Do you have any hobbies?
Spending time with family and friends is very important to me. Also knitting reading and cross stitch.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I have had several poems published in various anthologies.


joy.aldridge@westberks.gov.uk

Annie Cummings

Visitor Services Assistant

I began working at West Berkshire Council in 1998 in the general office and then moved into Legal Services. In 2004 I began working in Adult Social Care as a Reablement Assistant, a hugely rewarding role which I loved. Unfortunately an injured back has meant a change in direction and I have very recently transferred to the team at Shaw House. I'm looking forward to the daily challenges and meeting new people.

My daily tasks are greeting visitors who come into the venue and assisting in anyway I can to make their visit a pleasant one.

What is your favourite room in the House?
It has to be the Ceremony Room as I'm a hopeless romantic!

What are your hobbies?
Walking my dog, watching sport, cooking, reading, gardening, going to gigs,

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I once featured in the children's programme Playdays, feeding Tamarin monkeys with Peggy Patch!


annie.cummings@westberks.gov.uk

Francesca Forde

Visitor Services Officer

I started at Shaw House just before the Summer Fair 2018 which was a great opportunity to get involved in one of the brilliant events offered here.

I have come from a background in law but I have always been creative coming from a very arty and musical family. As a result, I am really looking forward to the biggest part of my role creating children’s activities in two of the rooms in the house and overseeing the activity trails.

Every day is different dependent on the type of visitor to Shaw House. I enjoy the variety of responsibilities that this creates and making sure that everyone who steps foot on the grounds has a great experience.

What is your favourite room in the House?
I love the Chandos Dining room as it is light, bright and feels very grand. Having said that, better still for me is looking back at the house from outside in the grounds. It is such a stunning building.

What are your hobbies?
I have grown up going camping so this is something I really enjoy; my son and I are often off on an adventure somewhere! I also love the theatre and generally spending time with friends and family.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I have been quad biking through the rainforest in Costa Rica.


francesca.forde1@westberks.gov.uk

Clare Bromley

Learning and Participation Officer

I have worked at the museum since 2014 at which time the team were based at one of the museum stores as the building was still being refurbished!

My job is so varied and no day is ever exactly the same – for example, one day I may be making the prototypes for the family activity days, another day visiting a school to do a workshop or hosting a visit to the museum, another visiting a care home to do an object handling session and another working on an exhibition with a community partner and steering group.

I really enjoy sharing my interest and knowledge of the museum’s collection with so many different audiences.

What is your favourite exhibition?
Window to My World, an exhibition to commemorate Black History Month 2015, is my favourite exhibition to date. Individuals from the local community shared their stories of heritage and culture through personal objects, images and memories – it was wonderful to work with the individuals and All2gether on this exhibition.

What are your hobbies?
I like to go on ‘busman holidays’ to places where I can appreciate and explore the history and culture.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I am a qualified secondary school Humanities teacher.


clare.bromley@westberks.gov.uk

David Elliott

Visitor Services Officer

I originally worked at Shaw House and was there for 6 years before moving over to work at the museum where I have been since 2014.

My job is to welcome visitors, organise the volunteers and manage the general front of house. I really enjoy meeting so many different people as well as being surrounded by amazing artefacts within such historic buildings!

What is your favourite exhibition?
King and Cause

What are your hobbies?
Walking the dog and being a Scout leader.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I have an identical twin brother


david.elliott@westberks.gov.uk

Ruth Howard

Museum Curator

I started working at the museum in early 2013 and I really love working with the collection objects, handling flint tools that were made by humans thousands of years ago is a privilege.

As Curator, I meet visitors that bring in objects for the collection; it is fascinating to hear their memories and to find out the history behind what they have brought. It’s the stories behind the objects that bring them alive. Working with communities to create exhibitions is always interesting and I learn new ways of looking at objects all the time.

I have such a varied job, there is no typical day, I could be repacking objects, researching for an exhibition or checking pest traps for evidence of insects that damage the collection.

What is your favourite exhibition?
I really enjoyed the exhibition in which the volunteers chose an object from the collection that was special to them. The volunteers help in managing the collection and it was lovely to see them all featured in an exhibition and finding out what their favourite object was and why.

What are your hobbies outside work?
I studied art, so I enjoy creating and making. I also love gardening.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I live in a house that is nearly 400 years old.


ruth.howard@westberks.gov.uk

Sarah Orr

Senior Archaeologist (Planning & Management Advice)

I am one of the long-standing elements of the heritage team having been permanently employed by West Berkshire Council since 2000, with a few short term projects before then in the museum. My role now as Senior Archaeologist involves advising planners, landowners and others on the conservation and management of the archaeological resource of our area, both at a strategic and casework level. We have evidence of thousands of years of human activity in our area – this historic environment is valuable but fragile, and we work to ensure development proposals are sustainable. When building does take place, we secure archaeological work to evaluate and if necessary record any features or deposits, so the information isn’t lost but is added to our Historic Environment Record. The archives and finds from this developer-funded work get deposited in West Berkshire Museum.

The archaeology service is consulted on agri-environment schemes where farmers can be rewarded for stewardship of features such as barrows, water-meadows or timber-framed barns, ensuring their future survival. We also want to help parishes, community groups, schools and the general public to understand, enjoy and protect their local heritage. The Assistant Archaeologist and Finds Liaison Officer are key posts in this aim.

What is your favourite place in the West Berkshire area?
It’s difficult to pin down just one – and despite living in the area for many years I can still find new corners to explore. Within a relatively small administrative area there is the contrast of the wide vistas along the Ridgeway and tree-lined byways like Old Street, and atmospheric spots such as Avington’s Norman church or interesting towns like Hungerford.

What are your hobbies outside work?
Gardening, yoga, life drawing and reading novels but I also enjoy travelling and visiting places within and outside the UK.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
I spent 3 years living in Dallas, Texas when it was pretty much like the TV series.


sarah.orr@westberks.gov.uk

Beth Asbury

Assistant Archaeologist (HER and Outreach)

My academic background is in Archaeology and Egyptology. After university, I worked for the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists for five and a half years before moving to Cairo to work for the Ministry of State for Antiquities for a year. When I moved back to the UK after the Revolution in 2011, I worked for the University of Oxford for seven years at the Pitt Rivers Museum and Ashmolean Museum, both of which I still love.

I am really pleased to now be responsible for the Historic Environment Record (HER) for West Berkshire, a powerful database of the heritage assets and archaeological finds in the district. Heritage assets are buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes that have been identified as being of known, or of potential, archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic interest, significance or setting. My job is to update and enhance that database, so the information can be used to inform planning decisions and archaeological work, as well as by landowners, farmers, researchers, students and local groups, for example. Another part of my role is to help the local community understand, appreciate and enjoy West Berkshire’s amazing historic environment, so please get in touch if your school or group would like a visit from me or if you think you have found something to add to the HER!

What is your favourite place in the West Berkshire area?
I grew up on the east side of West Berkshire, on the edge of Reading. I loved playing in the woods behind our house, Oliver’s Copse and Withy Copse, where there are trees to climb, hills to scramble up, streams to splash through and the remains of a couple of water pumps from the old Blagrave Hospital. Oliver’s Copse especially has lovely bluebells in the spring, and there are foxes, badgers, bats, hedgehogs, lots of squirrels and the occasional deer to spot.

What are your hobbies?
I am a Brownie Leader, a Young Archaeologists’ Club leader and on the Committee of the Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society. I also have a pet axolotl called Fraggle.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?
Two friends and I once won an episode of a Channel 4 history gameshow filmed at the British Museum, called Codex.


beth.asbury1@westberks.gov.uk