Experiencing Heritage at Castle Blatna

The Heritage Partnerships Team is very pleased to feature this blog post about Lara Garret's summer internship at Castle Blatna, Czech Republic. Having worked with the Careers Service to establish the internship in 2018, we are very pleased that it has now become a long standing partnership.

This summer I was incredibly fortunate to be able to undertake an eight-week internship at Castle Blatna in the Czech Republic. Ever since excitedly receiving my offer in March, I had closely monitored the growing restrictions and become convinced that the internship would not go ahead. However, in an amazing stroke of luck, restrictions on entering the Czech Republic were lifted just two days before I was due to fly. As the only intern to travel out to Castle Blatna, I felt a little nervous on arriving, yet was soon made to feel at home by the wonderful team of people who live and work there.

Exterior of Castle Blatna

Exterior of Castle Blatna. © Lara Garrett

Castle Blatna is a beautiful neo-Gothic castle, complete with a large deer park within which my accommodation was located. During the eight weeks spent there, I worked under the supervision of the castle’s owner and manager, Stephanos Germenis-Hildprandt. My tasks were hugely diverse, opening my eyes to the wealth of opportunities in heritage and revealing how mistaken I was in my prior assumption that a career in heritage would inevitably mean becoming a curator. I did undertake some curatorial research, for instance investigating the visit of US military hero General Patton, but I also helped out with design, marketing and communications. One project of which I am particularly proud involved creating an information brochure using graphic design software; after three years of writing history essays, it was really rewarding to try my hand at something so different. Indeed, the brochure will be translated into multiple languages and placed in hotels to promote the castle, which goes to show how much value is placed on interns’ work. My supervisor was always supportive and encouraging of my ideas, really setting this internship apart and making the experience all the more enjoyable.

A large part of my responsibilities also centred around event organisation. As I was at Blatna during the high season, there was an exciting jam-packed calendar of outdoor theatre, opera and music. I assisted with everything from drafting invites and programmes to designing signs and devising promotional posts. At a time when events back home were cancelled or taking place virtually, I felt incredibly lucky to be able to attend performances in person, and enjoyed feeling I had a hand in organising them. Taking place framed by the castle, moat and deer park, the events were a particularly special - and at times surreal - part of my internship experience.

During my time at Blatna, I took the opportunity to travel both within and beyond the Czech Republic. Among other places, I went to Prague, Dresden, Vienna and Salzburg, visiting innumerable castles, museums and galleries. It was fascinating to explore the rich cultural heritage of Central Europe – an area I had never visited before – and to see the diverse ways in which different countries handle their past. I particularly enjoyed visiting Prague and cannot wait to go again when possible.  

The internship, then, was an amazing experience for which I am very grateful to the entire castle team. I have long considered a career in heritage, and the internship provided fantastic insight into how heritage organisations function in practice. It highlighted the true diversity of work in heritage; no two days were ever the same. Yet more than anything, it reinforced just how important heritage work is. I hope that many more interns are able to visit Castle Blatna, and that they enjoy their time there as much as I did!

Lara Garrett has recently completed her undergraduate degree in History at Mansfield College. Her research looked at the connections between childhood, gender and agency, and she received the Arnold Modern Historical Prize for her thesis on schoolgirl magazines at the fin-de-siècle. She hopes to pursue her research interests through a Masters degree.

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courtyard of castle blatna

Courtyard of Castle Blatna before an evening theatre performance. © Lara Garrett