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Harewood House Launches a Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas at Harewood

Harewood House is pleased to announce a special five-week Christmas season, A Victorian Christmas, which will see the house and grounds open during the festive period for the first time in five years. To celebrate the new series of ITV’s Victoria, which is filmed on location at Harewood House, the show’s award-winning creative director, Michael Howells, will create a magical Christmas experience giving visitors the opportunity to explore the house in full Victorian splendour.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Christmas was not regarded as a significant event. However, in 1848, the Illustrated London News published a drawing of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree. The trend was adopted by the British people and by the end of the nineteenth century Christmas in the UK had become the major annual celebration it is today, with trees, homemade decorations, Christmas cards and gifts.

In celebration of the Victorians’ love of Christmas, the event will give visitors an insight into the ways the Victorians created and informed the Christmas traditions we enjoy today, including Christmas dinner, carol singing, the Christmas tree and present giving. Storytelling will be at the heart of the event with inspiration being taken from Harewood’s own archives and collections.

Display highlights will include loans from Ilkley Toy Museum including Victorian board games, dolls houses, toy soldiers and rare dolls from the era. Additionally, visitors will have the rare opportunity of exploring the award-winning gardens, which although usually closed throughout the winter months, will be open until 3:30pm daily.

Harewood’s magnificent State Floor, which is one of the principal locations for Victoria, will be beautifully dressed with visually stunning Victorian decorations, while ‘below stairs’, in the kitchens, visitors will get a sense of the hustle and bustle of a stately country house, with a cornucopia of traditional Christmas foods being prepared.

As well as the festive dressing, visitors will be able to enjoy a series of events and activities including wreath making, twilight tours, floristry workshops and Fireside Father Christmas.

Jane Marriott, Director of Harewood House Trust said, “2017 has been a positive year for Harewood House Trust. We have had a fantastic response from visitors to our Victorian Harewood season so extending this into an immersive Christmas event is really exciting. We are thrilled to be opening the house for Christmas and to be working with Michael Howells on the project.”

Michael Howells said, “I’m delighted to be working with Harewood House Trust for this event. Harewood has been an incredible place to work filming Victoria for the last two years and has provided us with some fantastic inspiration. It’s a special place, filled with history and wonderful stories to tell.”

Harewood House Sees Visitors Increase Following ITV Victoria Series and Successful Exhibitions

ITV's Victoria filmed at Harewood House

As series 2 of ITV’s blockbuster drama Victoria airs, Harewood House Trust announces increased visitors numbers following the successful Victorian Harewood exhibitions inspired by the production which used Harewood as a key location. The major exhibitions have seen historically accurate costumes from the programme displayed in the house alongside personal objects owned by Queen Victoria.

Jane Marriott, Director of Harewood House Trust said: “2017 has been a fantastic year for Harewood House Trust. As a charity, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect Harewood and its collections; filming is an important revenue stream which helps this work continue.

To capitalise on the Victoria production, we have shaped our season around Harewood’s Victorian history; costumes from Victoria have been on display including the famous coronation gown worn by Jenna Coleman who plays Victoria in the programme. Alongside the stunning costumes, personal items owned by Queen Victoria, Charlotte Canning, Queen Victoria’s lady-in-waiting, and Lady Louisa, 3rd Countess of Harewood, have been displayed adding real authenticity to the exhibitions in the house.”

“The response has been incredibly positive and we have seen visitors to Harewood significantly increase compared to the same period last year.”

Harewood House has been transformed into Buckingham Palace for both series 1 and 2 of the programme. Many of the opulent rooms on the State Floor, the famous kitchens Below Stairs as well as exteriors of the house and parts of the Estate have been used in the production.

Jane Marriott said, “We are looking forward to series 2 and seeing Harewood on screen once again. We hope to see more visitors coming to Harewood before the Victoria costume exhibition and the Victorian Harewood displays close on 29th October.”

Jane Marriott said, “Watch out for our announcement this autumn for our new Christmas season extending our celebration of all things Victorian.”

Filming at Harewood House, 2nd – 5th August

Victoria ITV

As you may know, Harewood House has been used as a major set for ITV’s flagship period drama “Victoria”. Throughout the first series, the production saw Harewood transformed into Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace. The programme was viewed by over 7 million people here in Britain and has also been broadcast in over 100 countries worldwide. Series two is currently being filmed across Yorkshire and on the 2nd – 5th August, Harewood will once again become Buckingham Palace. This will cause some changes to visitor access to the House and grounds.

To allow the film crew to transform Harewood House into Buckingham Palace, we will close Below Stairs between 2nd – 5th August.  Part of the Terrace, Terrace Cafe and Terrace Gallery will be closed on 2nd, 3rd and 4th August but will reopen on the 5th August. Please note on 3rd August, no access to the Terrace will be possible.

To ensure that you can enjoy all of the House, we will be opening the State Floor to all visitors between 2nd – 5th August at no additional cost. This will allow you to see the magnificent rooms and the Victorian Harewood exhibitions.

Filming generates vital income for Harewood and it makes a significant difference to the charity. We would like to thank all our visitors in advance for their patience and we hope that you enjoy seeing the House being used by a large film production like “Victoria”.

Harewood Welcomes New Baby Donkey into the Fold

Baby donkey born at Harewood House in Yorkshire

Lady, Harewood’s female donkey, gave birth unaided last night to a new foal. The latest arrival is Lady’s first baby and both mum and baby are doing well.

The gestation period for donkeys is twelve months so when Lady arrived at Harewood in August 2016 she was already pregnant.

Nick Dowling, Bird Garden and Farm Experience Manager said: “We began to notice that Lady was widening a few months ago. At first we considered she may be gaining weight however it soon became evident that she was pregnant – much to our surprise!”

“We’re really pleased to have this latest addition in the Farm. Lady is doing all the right things and is showing signs of being a fantastic mother.”

“At the moment we are leaving mum and baby to bond. We suspect that the new baby is female although this is yet to be officially established. Once we confirm the sex, we will name the latest arrival.”

At birth, foals usually weigh between 19 and 30 lbs. (8.6 to 13.6 kg) and can stand and nurse after just 30 minutes. Harewood keepers are keeping a close eye on the new baby ensuring both Lady and the new addition are getting the best care around the clock.

Jane Marriott, Director of Harewood House Trust said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the new arrival to the Farm. Harewood House Trust relies on visitors and our members to support the work of the charity. We hope our latest addition will be a positive new attraction this summer.”

Visitors to Harewood will be able to see the newborn in the Farm this weekend.

Harewood Launches New Frank Walter Exhibition

Visit Harewood House in Yorkshire to see Frank Walter exhibition

Harewood House Trust is delighted to exhibit 63 paintings by the Caribbean artist Frank Walter (1926-2009). These works have never been seen together in England before.  The majority are landscapes, including many of trees purposely selected to resonate with Harewood’s Capability Brown landscape. Apparently simple, they beautifully depict real and imaginary vistas which speak with an unmistakable visionary voice.

Frank Walter (Francis Archibald Wentworth Walter), self-styled 7th Prince of the West Indies, Lord of Follies and the Ding-a-Ding Nook, was born in Antigua in 1926. Walter was hugely talented as an artist and writer, although somewhat flawed by an obsession with his ancestral lineage which he believed linked him with the aristocratic families of Europe including Charles II (through his mistress Lucy Walter), Franz Joseph of Austria and the Dukes of Buccleuch.

His fragile mental state became more apparent and for the last 25 years of his life, Walter removed himself from society, living in an isolated shack on an Antiguan hillside, painting on all sorts of material including discarded Polaroid boxes and LP covers.

His rich legacy includes several hundred paintings and carvings, as well as 25,000 pages of his thoughts on every conceivable subject including history, philosophy, religion and science.

In 1958, he travelled to Leeds (probably Chapeltown from the description) working in poorly paid part-time jobs – feather packer, a lamp manufacturer, boot factory, floor sweeper. He was pretty much starving, which may account for some of his almost hallucinatory writing. He was researching his real and imaginary genealogy in Leeds central Library.

In 1960, he went to Scotland which had a great effect on him as he felt so strongly connected to the country through his family legacy.

Flamboyant Trees has been made possible with support from the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh who have championed the artist’s work in the UK and internationally. Richard Ingleby, Director of the Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh said:

“It is terrific to see this exhibition of Frank Walter’s paintings at Harewood House and I suspect that the delusions of grandeur from which he suffered would have encouraged him to see it as an appropriate setting. The view out across fields from the Terrace at Harewood seems especially fitting for an exhibition that includes so many of Walter’s paintings of trees, some of which were inspired by the time that he spent in Yorkshire and Scotland in the 1950s, before returning to the Caribbean and a life of self imposed isolation. These gloriously fresh and directly painted landscapes have an anthropomorphic quality – as if he were painting his friends, or recording a kind of companionship still offered by trees when people had long since let him down.”

Nicola Stephenson, Exhibitions and Projects Producer at Harewood House Trust said:

“Harewood is particularly delighted to exhibit a selection of paintings by Frank Walter this summer when Leeds is also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Leeds Carnival and the contribution of the Caribbean community to our wider cultural life. Walter was a complex man – an artist, a writer and philosopher; since his death in 2009 there has been a growing recognition of his work.”

Frank Walter’s work is now highly sought after by collectors and this year, marks Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural representation at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with an exhibition of Walter’s paintings, sculpture, audio recordings and writing.

Read more about the exhibition here.