Harewood celebrates Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday

2016 sees HRH Queen Elizabeth II celebrate her 90th birthday. In recognition of her remarkable life and historic reign, a number of objects from Harewood’s collection relating to the Queen are being displayed in the Gallery.

A Young Princess

Visit Harewood to see Royal memorabilia on display

Born on the 21st April 1926, the young Princess Elizabeth was not expected to become Queen. Following the heavily publicised abdication of her uncle, King Edward VIII, Elizabeth’s father, George VI, took his place on the throne. At the age of 10 years old, the young Princess Elizabeth become heiress presumptive.Harewood House has Royal Family memorabilia

The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place on the 12th May 1937. The ceremony was attended by both young princesses.

We waited in the little dressing room until it was time to go up the aisle. Then we arranged ourselves to form the procession. First of all came two Heralds, then two Gentlemen Ushers, then all in a line Margaret, Aunt Mary and myself…I thought it all very, very wonderful and I expect the Abbey did, too. The arches and beams at the top were covered with a sort of haze of wonder as Papa was crowned, at least I thought so.’

Princess Elizabeth, 1937

The 6th Countess of Harewood, Princess Mary, was Elizabeth’s aunt. Harewood is fortunate to be custodians of some wonderful objects, images and correspondence which are being displayed in honour of Queen Elizabeth.

Tour de Yorkshire 2016

Tour de Yorkshire

2016 marks the second annual Tour de Yorkshire. The three-day legacy event began life after the Grand Depart of 2014‘s Tour de France which famously started on the front steps of Harewood House.

The 2016 route will again feature three stages. Here is a brief summary:

  • Stage 1: Friday 29th April: Beverley to Settle
    • Total stage length: 185km
    • 2 x sprint points (Bubwith, Giggleswick)
    • 1 x King of the Mountain (Greenhow Hill)
    • Total ascent: 1,832m
  • Stage 2: Saturday 30th April: Otley to Doncaster
    • Total stage length: 136km
    • Same route for men and women
    • 2 x sprint points (Scholes, Warmsworth)
    • 3 x King/ Queen of the Mountain (Harewood Bank, East Rigton, Conisbrough Castle)
    • Total ascent: 1,110m
  • Stage 3: Sunday 1st May: Middlesbrough to Scarbrough
    • Total stage length: 198km
    • 2 x sprint points (Thirsk and Whitby Abbey)
    • 6 x King of the Mountain (Sutton Bank, Blakey Ridge, Grosmont, Robin Hood’s Bay, Harwood Dale and Oliver’s Mount)
    • Total ascent: 2,593m

Stage 2 will see riders tackle Harewood Bank. There will be rolling road closures which have been announced as per the below:

  • Women’s race will be at Harewood 08:35 (road closed approx. 08:15 to 08:45 hrs, 09:00 latest)
  • Men’s race will be at Harewood 14:55 (road closure approx. 14:40 to 15:15 hrs, 15.45 latest)

Access to Harewood should be largely unrestricted if you would like to visit on the day. If you’re watching the event from the roadside, why not come to Harewood and make a day of it? See where the 2014 Grand Depart began and enjoy everything Harewood has to offer. You can explore Harewood online here.

Read full details about the race here.

Yellow Drawing Room Carpet – condition checking

Conservation at Harewood on Axminster carpets

Carpets, due to their very nature as a floor covering, are vulnerable to deterioration. The Axminster carpet in the Yellow Drawing Room has been exposed to over two centuries of footfall, light, and the natural chemical decomposition of its organic woven fibres.

Over the course of its lifetime, the Yellow Drawing Room carpet has also been subject to a number of repairs which, in some cases, have been detrimental. Tight linen backing, glued hessian ‘patches’ and even a trip to the dry cleaners have all contributed to damage the carpet has sustained over the centuries.

In order to fully examine and record this damage, the carpet has been painstakingly reverse rolled under the supervision of a conservation specialist. Reverse rolling is a technique used to safely roll and unroll carpets reducing tension on the fabric.

It was the first time the carpet had moved in over 20 years and took 8 members of staff a full day to complete.

Revealing a hidden history:

Harewood House in Yorkshire has Axminster carpets

Rolling the carpet also uncovered a label attached by the Anglo-Persian Carpet Company who operated from the 1920s throughout the 20th century.

This company specialised in carpet repair and they were responsible for restoring many valuable carpets held in royal households and National Trust properties. It is likely that this company carried out some repairs on the Yellow Drawing Room carpet.

The carpet is currently displayed in the Yellow Drawing Room partially upside down to reveal the extent of the repairs and damage on both sides.

Conserving the Yellow Drawing Room Carpet

The Yellow Drawing Room carpet is in urgent need of conservation treatment by professional textile conservators.

During Yorkshire’s Year of the Textile we are considering what kind of treatments they undertake and to what extent they are carried out.

We would like to ask what you think about the Yellow Drawing Room carpet’s conservation and would be grateful if you could answer our short questionnaire when you visit.

Axminster at Harewood


Harewood House has an axminster carpet
What are Axminster Carpets?

Up until the 18th century, few homes in England had the luxury of carpeted floors. Thomas Whitty of Axminster, Devon, was one of the men responsible for the growth in their popularity, particularly within stately homes.

After an inspiring visit to a French weaver’s workshop in 1754, Whitty discovered the secret to producing large, seamless, hand-knotted carpets that would allow versatility in their design. Using a wide vertical loom, patterns were created by knotting coloured wool around two, lengthwise or warp threads in the symmetrical Turkish style. In 1755, with the help of his young children and their aunt, Whitty produced the first Axminster carpet.

Whitty undertook many successful commissions throughout the second half of the 18th century, accompanying decorative schemes in some of the finest and most fashionable county houses of the time.

Harewood’s Yellow Drawing Room Carpet

Visit Harewood and see the Yellow Drawing Room

The Axminster carpet in the Yellow Drawing Room is thought to date from around 1780 and is integral to the decorative scheme of the Yellow Drawing Room. It is only one of 8 carpets across the county which remain within the original Robert Adam schemes.

As in many rooms designed by Robert Adam, the design of the carpet echoes the decorative plasterwork of the ceiling creating a sense of balance and harmony. The pattern consists of a central circular medallion and four pointed star, along with scrolling acanthus leaves and rosette borders.

Whilst the design of the carpet and ceiling are very similar, the colour schemes differ slightly. It is thought that Adam initially intended this room to have a pink and green colour scheme; after the purchase of vivid yellow silk by Edwin Lascelles, Adam’s design was adapted to incorporate the silk. It is likely that the carpet was already in production before this change took place, hence the absence of yellow in its design.

In the 18th century carpets were considered to be valuable and prestigious furnishings. It was recognised that they could be easily damaged and protective coverings also know as serge covers were
commissioned at Harewood to protect them.

Conserving the Yellow Drawing Room Carpet

See the Harewood's axminster carpet in need of restoration

Here you can see the difference between an area of the carpet in need of restoration verses a section which has been repaired.

The Yellow Drawing Room carpet is in urgent need of conservation treatment by professional textile conservators.

During Yorkshire’s Year of the Textile we are considering what kind of treatments they undertake and to what extent they are carried out.

We would like to ask what you think about the Yellow Drawing Room carpet’s conservation and would be grateful if you could answer our short questionnaire when you visit.

Sculptor behind the BAFTA mask was ahead of her time

  • Exhibition celebrating major contribution to public art in post-war Britain by American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe opens at the University of Leeds on 30 March

She created the famous BAFTA mask trophy that has been awarded to the great and the good of the film and TV worlds for more than 60 years. But some say the work of sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe has been overlooked ever since.

Now the University of Leeds hopes to redress this by collaborating with the American artist’s daughter to create a new exhibition of her work from 30 March to 2 July: Sculptor behind the Mask: Mitzi Cunliffe’s work of the 1950s.

Painter and Royal Academician Stephen Farthing curated an exhibition of Cunliffe’s work in Oxford in 1994. He said Cunliffe, who lived in the North of England for much of the 1950s and 60s, was well ahead of her time.

“Mitzi Cunliffe wasn’t fortunate enough to live at a time when the art world was interested in a female American artist making sculpture in a garage in Didsbury, let alone the very real or possibly just imagined performative element in her work,” he said.

“Today, in my story of art, she would hang in the same gallery as Lady Gaga, Marina Abramovich, Jackson Pollock and possibly Barbara Hepworth. It was her ability to take a classical education and make it look towards the future that convinced me she should be part of the curriculum.”

Cunliffe’s elder daughter Antonia Cunliffe Davis has been working to raise awareness of her late mother’s artistic legacy for more than 20 years.

She said: “After all this time, I hope this mission will finally come to fruition and that the exhibition at Leeds will help get her the recognition she deserves.”

This year the University celebrates the 60th anniversary of one of Cunliffe’s most important 1950s public sculptures – Man-Made Fibres, a huge Portland stone sculpture for a new textiles building, also called Man-Made Fibres. The sculpture features two monumental hands with a striking weave motif cradled between them, reflecting the exciting developments in synthetic fibres that the new building represented. The University remains proud of its roots in Yorkshire’s textiles industry.

At the same time she was working on this, Cunliffe was commissioned by the then Guild of Television Producers to design the BAFTA award, which was presented for the first time in October 1955. Man-Made Fibres was unveiled by the Princess Royal – then Chancellor of the University – in June the following year.

The new exhibition, at the University’s Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, considers Cunliffe’s career in public art and as a designer of ceramics and textiles in the 1950s, when she created the famous BAFTA trophy – on loan will be the very first iconic mask produced.

The show has been curated by art historian Professor Ann Sumner, the University’s Head of Cultural Engagement, who said: “The exhibition concentrates on Mitzi Cunliffe’s major public art commissions, including her little-known contribution to the Festival of Britain, which launched her career in this country, as well as commissions for other Universities such as Liverpool, for schools in Manchester, her frieze for the Heaton Park Pumping Station, also in Manchester, and the remarkable War of the Roses screen in Lewis’s department store in Liverpool.

“The 1950s were an extraordinarily prolific years for her.”

Sculpture specialist and author Ben Read said: “Mitzi Cunliffe was a lively contributor to British sculpture in the post-war period.  She was active in providing sculpture in the public field and prominent in her use of a wide variety of materials.

“Later in the 1960s, she specialised in creating mass-produced concrete relief panels to feature on buildings. In many ways she successfully expanded the nature of sculpture production.”

The Leeds exhibition will focus on the Man-Made Fibres sculpture, culminating in the 60th anniversary of the building on which it sits, on 29 June.

Items on display – some for the first time – will include Cunliffe’s original maquettes (preliminary models), photographs, letters, drawings, textiles, ceramics and exhibition catalogues.

Arthritis and eye problems led Cunliffe to switch to teaching and writing from the early 1970s. She later developed Alzheimer’s disease and retired to Oxfordshire where she died aged 88 in 2006.

As part of the year’s events to celebrate Cunliffe’s association with the University, Man-Made Fibres is being conserved, and new public art will be commissioned in response to it.

The exhibition forms part of the University of Leeds Public Art Project and will be accompanied by a series of events and talks, as part of The Yorkshire Year of the Textile celebrations. It also coincides with the Out There: Our Post-War Public Art exhibition organised by Historic England at Somerset House (until 10 April).

Lord Harewood has generously lent his BAFTA award to the exhibition.