Looking after the management of the Mountbatten family’s house and collection at Broadlands, as well as PR and a growing events programme, director Richard Jordan- Baker tackles some complex issues.
My name is Richard Jordan-Baker. I am one of two directors at Broadlands. My job is threefold – to build and then maintain a programme of new events in the Parkland, Orangery and Gardens, to assist the family in managing the house and the collection, and finally, manage the PR and media interest in the family and estate.
In order to carry out my duties effectively I live on the estate. I have been here for 12 years and before Broadlands I worked for the National Trust for 17 years in Derbyshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
I have benefited from being a cathedral chorister as a boy in Lincoln and also from my education in many subjects at Repton in Derbyshire. I share my life (even my vinyl collection!) with Claire. We live with three pigs, two cats and four chickens.
Broadlands is the home of the Mountbatten family. It was the home of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma and, some time earlier, the great Victorian prime minister, Lord Palmerston. It is linked to and with many and varied chapters of life, and its owners and guests have been a part of this and other country’s history.
Broadlands borders the market town of Romsey in Hampshire. It is a diverse commercial estate with a broad portfolio of interests including let farmland, residential and commercial property, woodland, a solar farm and a crematorium. It is an estate with diverse habitats, conservation-led management regimes and includes SSSIs, veteran trees, an ancient monument, four miles of the River Test and the home of the Romsey Show, the largest one day agricultural and horse show in the country.
My day starts at precisely 0730 with the seemingly unending cheerfulness, energy and positivity of Chris Evans on Virgin Radio. In these rather depressing times Mr Evans provides a dose of the right stuff to get the day going. The Today Programme is off the menu as is now endless Covid-19 and Brexit, and is not exactly unbiased. Then, feeding our three pet pigs, it’s breakfast and into the study for another day working from home.
The first job is checking the email for any PR alerts from Google. Positive and negative PR can mean possible further research or action to be taken. If none, then email from the evening and night owls. I look first at anything from Mountbatten family members – my employers – and subjects directly relevant to the them, then event related messages, then those from my colleagues.
Currently I am managing a building project to repair an important listed building, the Orangery, for future events, so I ring the site manager most mornings first thing to catch up on any progress.
Working from home certainly means much more communication is required. Sadly, my first thoughts tend to be what news the Prime Minister will be delivering to make growing an event programme even more difficult.
I was taught the priorities of estate work early on – life and death; one’s Principal (i.e. the needs of the Principal – Lady Mountbatten and her family); generating income and reducing cost. These priorities tend to be how I organise the day’s challenges. Like many – write a list and some days you might get some of them started! With a single telephone call the day can turn full circle and the list become a work of fiction.
Problems are rarely super urgent but there are always problems to fix and challenges to overcome. In 12 or so years, no two days have ever been the same and the subject matter I cover is wide and diverse. Some issues are complex and long running, others immediate and more simple. There have been some very long, difficult and complex challenges that have required strategy and patience.
A main feature at the moment is my work with Southampton’s Podium Events in the planning of ‘Park Proms’ – two spectacular concerts in August. On Friday 27, we have the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Aled Jones and Laura Wright, together with a world class air display, and an as yet undisclosed major artist for Saturday 28. With tickets for the Friday night already selling incredibly quickly all minds involved are working very hard to try and predict all eventualities.
Everyone should have breaks and lunch. I have lunch almost every day and breaks that, as much as possible, I take out of doors. If I don’t I quickly become irritable and don’t function well.
Most days my work is a small part of what will hopefully later be an achievement. The tasks are almost always part of a bigger, longer picture – at the moment hopefully (and Covid allowing) new and exciting events at Broadlands. I am working with a group of new promoters who are incredibly positive and energetic and willing the future to be bright and successful. Events are booked and plans are being made but there is still room for more so the quest continues to find people to work alongside to create the best events I can for the estate and those who live locally.
I love my job because I get to work in a beautiful place. Daily I stand literally in the footsteps of those who have made history and, because of the variety of the role, I get to meet and work with like-minded people.
The Estate Office
Hampshire SO51 9ZE