Upon arrival we parked on the grass verge along the road as we, and many others, had done on our last visit when we stopped by on Easter Sunday - so we could enjoy the beautiful walk up to the house. The gardens are beautiful and lovely for just a relaxed wander. We decided to visit the house on this occasion as well, not realising it was rather expensive at £10 per adult, we asked about becoming a National Trust member instead.
The women on the desk seemed to know little about the membership terms and conditions, or indeed much else about the membership scheme other than how to fill out the form. This lack of information lead us to not bother signing up to something that the staff couldn’t even tell us about, so we decided to check the National trust website before signing up, thinking we would just return when we had a membership card.
We had a look in the tearoom, which is of a beautiful vintage style, with wonderful looking cakes. The woman in the gift shop was helpful enough when we enquired about the possibility of using the tearoom for an upcoming birthday party of about 16 people, and we then went on our way.
As we got in the car ready to reverse out and head home we discovered a larger vehicle behind us, blocking us in. A man in his 50's/60's then approached our car and smugly informed us he was the head gardener and had phoned the police as he seen our car had a bashed headlight, so he concluded the car was stolen and ditched there by us … for no reason what so ever. As we calmly explained there was no need to phone the police as it had been looked up by a team of professional mechanics and confirmed with highway law that it was safe to drive during the day time and the car was not stolen etc. He started grunting and became aggressive very fast, claiming our car was illegal to drive and I better have my license and insurance as the police were on their way (heavy implying we had stolen the car.)
As he had told us he was a head gardener, note he was not a policeman or a lawyer or a mechanic or any other professional that would actually know anything about the situation, we were not very inclined to hang around while this man was becoming more aggressive. We kept trying to explain the misunderstanding to him, but it seemed to make him more angry. We ended up saying well well thanks for that (trying to end the conversation) He then started to swear at us, ‘why are you parked on the f***ing grass’ We attempted to tell him many cars were parked in this very spot last week, and there are no signs telling you otherwise, but he shouted over us. As his verbal assault contained I could not help but think he genuinely believed this was his house, he was the law and we had some how offended him. In his own words I was being lippy (which he said to my boyfriend clearly not wanting to talk to a female)
… I have never felt more welcome in my life, going to a public place to see a beautiful house and made to feel like we had intruded on the volunteer’s private club house .. then getting verbally assaulted by a strange man. This man has no idea who we are, we have no idea who he is and yet he choose to phone the police as if we were trespassing on his private property … then continued to insult us and shout at us to the point we felt intimated at his aggression (we were literally trapped in the middle of no where with a very angry man who being the head gardener could have had a number of possible tools which could be used as a weapon in his rage). When he finally moved his car and we got to leave we had left with such a bad experience, after originally thinking the place was rather lovely.
I thought the tearoom was the perfect venue for my birthday party but I am now thinking twice about bringing my friends and family here after the abuse a received from this member of staff.
There is absolutely no excuse for someone in his position to shout and swear at a customer. I have worked in various positions in retail, hospitality and customer service and I would never dream of treating someone like that. Really let down by what could have been a lovely experience!
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