Harewood House, in Wharfedale, has been the home of the earls of Harewood for over 200 years. The 6th earl was married to Princess Mary, the Princess Royal and eldest daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Her wedding dress is on display.
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Completed in 1771, the house was the property of Edwin Lascelles, who made his money in the West Indies sugar trade. It was designed by John Carr of York with the interiors decorated by Scottish architect and designer Robert Adam. The furniture in the house was especially made for it by Thomas Chippendale.
The 19th century saw a number of changes and alterations. Sir Charles Barry added the third storey to the house and removed the portico on the south and made some interior changes.
In the state rooms there are collections of paintings and sculpture. Family portraits are by Reynolds, Gainsborough and Hoppner. There are landscapes by Turner and Renaissance paintings in the collection. Plasterwork ceilings, patterned cornices, and chimney-pieces are of special note. Overmantels are painted with classical landscapes and mythological scenes.
On view during a tour are the entrance hall, old library, china room (a collection of Sevres porcelain belonging to King Louis XV and XVI and Marie-Antoinette), Princess Mary’s bedroom panelled in green silk, the east bedroom, Lord Harewood’s sitting room (a collection of 20th century paintings), a state bedroom with walls of silk and Chippendale mirrors (for visiting royalty), two libraries, two drawing rooms (one with yellow silk walls), a state dining room with painted ceiling, a music room, and a stunning 76 foot long Adam’s gallery with painted ceiling, works of art, and a collection of Chinese porcelain. In the east bedroom a four poster bed, chairs and clothes press are in green and gold Chinese lacquer style. The yellow bedroom has oversize oval mirrors.
The old library is the most complete of Adam’s designs still remaining in the interior. In Princess Mary’s dressing room is her collection of rose quartz and jade along with a number of portraits of her. The walls of the east bedroom are hung with fine Chinese wallpaper. In the watercolour rooms collections of paintings, both permanent and temporary, can be enjoyed. A four poster bed made in the later half of the 18th century is in the state bedroom. Of special note in the library, now used as a sitting room, are Adam’s ceiling, overmantle, and chimneypieces.
There is a ‘Below Stairs’ exhibition where an old kitchen complete with vaulted ceiling shows off a copperware collection. Also on view are a scullery and servants’ hall.
The estate consists of 1000 acres of parkland. ‘Capability’ Brown designed the grounds except for the south terrace which was designed by Sir Charles Barry. There are terraced gardens reflecting their Victorian origin, rhododendrons, a rose garden, walled gardens, a rock garden with a collection of Oriental plants and a cascade, and a lake. The lakeside bird garden, with 40 aviaries, is home to 120 species of exotic non-British birds, one third considered to be rare and endangered species. These include penguins, flamingos, owls, parrots, Mauritius pink pigeons and more.
Numerous walks can be enjoyed in the grounds. A 15th century church, All Saints, is in the woods. It houses a collection of alabaster effigies. The stables and its courtyard now house visitor facilities.
Harewood House and Garden
Harewood, Wetherby, on the A61 near Harrogate
Yorkshire, North-east Counties
Tel. 0 113 218 1010
Open: daily, April-end Oct; house, noon-4pm, grounds and gardens, 10am-6pm; below stairs, 10.30am-4pm; bird garden, 10am-5.30pm; Nov, Dec, Feb, and early March, check website for full details
Shops; changing exhibitions; adventure playground; parking
Web: Harewood House and Garden
Text and photos © by Barbara Ballard