How the Victorian era influenced Harewood Bird Garden

Harewood House in Yorkshire has a bird garden and farm

This year, Harewood House and grounds are taking a closer look at the Victorian era inspired by ITV’s period drama Victoria, which used Harewood as a major location. Although when the young Princess Victoria visited Harewood in 1835, the Bird Garden had not yet been built, (opening some 135 years later!), the era still had a major influence on the zoo you can see today.

It was during this period that animal collections and scientific study of the natural world began to develop. Zoological collections in Britain were beginning to evolve with menageries of species kept for display and travelling circuses full of dangerous and exotic animals becoming more common place.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was founded in 1826, shortly before Victoria’s coronation (1837 – 1901). As a leader in the field, ZSL’s aim was to promote the study of animals and their ecology, an ambition which remains at the heart of zoological collections today. London Zoo officially opened its gates to the public in 1828, giving people the opportunity see animals from across the world and learn more about exotic species.

The Victorians were pioneering in promoting research, discovery and conservation of the natural world and organisations founded at the time are still of great importance and relevance today. In the later part of Victoria’s reign, the Plumage League was founded (1889) by Emily Williamson, to combat the killing of birds to use their feathers as fashion accessories. She later joined forces with the Fur and Feather League (1891) to create the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), now a leading light in avian conservation across the world.

The era saw unparalleled developments in our understanding of the natural world with great naturalists such as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace making discoveries that would fundamentally change how we perceive the world around us.

Since 1970, the Bird Garden at Harewood has promoted an understanding of birds and their environment through conservation, preservation and education, very much as the pioneering zoologists of the Victorian times had done. Today, we host a number of research projects each year with students coming from Askham Bryan College, Leeds Beckett University and University of Leeds among others. Studies on the Chilean flamingos, Humboldt penguins and our wide range of pheasants are either published in journals, ongoing, or in the process of being completed. These projects are all focussed towards improving the husbandry and welfare of the animals in our care. We often receive correspondence from other universities and zoos asking us to assist with projects, the results of which could be put towards the protection of birds and their natural habitats.

Visit the zoo at Harewood House in Yorkshire to see rare birds

We recently welcomed a pair of Omei Shan Liocichla, a small Chinese songbird, to the Bird Garden. This species is listed being vulnerable to extinction in their native habitat and have been incorporated into a European Studbook which will help their ongoing survival.

With this addition, Harewood Bird Garden now partakes in 12 coordinated breeding programmes and species monitors, with 16 of the species kept in the Bird Garden classified as threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species. These can be seen living with another Chinese species, the silver pheasant in the aviaries below the crane paddocks.

Go to the zoo at Harewood House in Leeds to see rare birds

In the neighbouring aviary we have two new red billed blue magpies from Nepal. These are striking blue birds with long striped tails. They have settled in very well and are currently nesting, with two eggs as I write this.

Visit Harewood House near Harrogate to see palm cockatoos

Another of our European Breeding Programme species is the palm cockatoos. These charismatic black birds with their bright pink cheeks have laid an egg again this year, the third year in succession making them the one of only two breeding pairs in the UK. The last two eggs have been successfully reared and we hope for a repeated performance again this year from our confident young family.

For those of you who want to know more about the Bird Garden and to support our ongoing conservation work, there are great opportunities you can access. From Bird Adoption to penguin feeding or our brand new Junior Keeper Experience launched this season, your support helps us to continue our charitable work, maintain and developing Harewood for the public benefit.

Thank you.

Filming at Harewood House, 17th – 20th May 2017

Visit Yorkshire to see film locations from Victoria at Harewood

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 between the 17th May – 20th May Harewood will once again become Buckingham Palace. This will cause some changes to visitor access to the House.

To allow the film crew to transform Below Stairs of Harewood House into the kitchens and corridors of Buckingham Palace, we will close Below Stairs during the 17th – 20th May. Access to the Terrace Gallery, Terrace Café and Gavin Fernandes’ exhibition, The Empire Line, will still be possible on 17th, 19th and 20th May.

On 18th May, the film crew are using the southern exteriors of the House. The Terrace will be used so access to this garden and all areas of Below Stairs will not be possible. The State Floor will close slightly earlier, with last admission at 3pm.

To ensure that you can enjoy all of the House, we will be opening the State Floor to all visitors on the 17th May – 20th May at no additional cost. This will allow you to see the magnificent rooms and the Victorian Harewood exhibitions. There will be some disruption to rooms on the State Floor on the 19th May as the Main Library is prepared for filming. Please talk to the team and refer to visitor information when you visit.

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”.

A Gardeners View of Spring at Harewood

Springtime in the gardens at Harewood means colour. Lots and lots of colour! From the dazzling display of tulips in the borders, alongside masses of hyacinths on the Terrace, down through the West Garden and all the way around the lakeside woodlands.  Here, swathes of daffodils cover the thickly wooded slopes in between groups of stately rhododendrons.

But there is always more than meets the eye at Harewood. Linger in those verdant glades a while longer. Take the time to stroll. Pause and look beyond those perennial showstoppers. Look closer. Look up, even look behind you, and you might be rewarded with a glimpse of something special. Whether it’s the billowing clouds of pure white cherry blossom against the blue sky, or the eerily striped hood of a cobra lily rising from the woodland floor, or a colony of orchids growing on a mossy roof, the richness and diversity contained within these gardens is staggering.

And that’s just what’s in store for visitors now. Things are only starting to get interesting. Because for gardeners, springtime, of course, means more than colour. It means growth and renewal. It also means a lot of hard work. Harewood is very much a developing garden. We’re busy planting some amazing plants, many of which visitors will see flowering in the gardens this summer, while some will put on growth and then flower next spring, and there are others that may take some years to reach flowering size. The important thing for us is continuity – evolving the gardens through the constant addition of new plants. Enjoy the gardens this spring!

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The Antiques & Fine Art Fair returns to Harewood

The Antiques & Fine Art Fair at Harewood returns at an earlier time this year, from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 May 2017. Organised by The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited, the fair is staged in a purpose-built marquee overlooking the stunning ‘Capability’ Brown landscape towards the 18th century country house, hailed as one of the great Treasure Houses of England.

Supported by Knight Frank Harrogate and Wilson Mitchell & Co, senior partner practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, the fair is now in its 6th year, and is a firm fixture in the diary for the discerning interior decorator and private buyer looking for distinctive, unusual and individual pieces for the home. The fair is a boutique-style event with around 30 specialist exhibitors taking part, the majority being members of BADA or LAPADA, the leading UK dealers’ trade associations. All abide by strict codes of practice.

Major highlights of the fair are to be found with first time exhibitor, Mary Cooke Antiques, specialist silver dealers from central London, who are bringing some exceptional pieces of York silver. York silver is very rare to come across as York was a small centre of silver and the assay office closed in 1856 resulting in very little surviving from that period and earlier. One piece is an Argyle, made in York in 1790 by Hampston & Prince, £8,950. Argyles are generally accepted to have been containers for gravy or sauce as the design incorporates some form of heat preserving element. The credit for inventing these Argyles goes to the 3rd Duke of Argyll as he and his Duchess had become tired of their sauces arriving cold at the dining table at Inverary Castle. Argyles made in London are scarce, however, it is thought that only a handful were made in York and examples are exceptionally rare. Two more pieces of York silver are Charles II tumbler cups which were used to drink from when travelling in carriages so they would always tumble back to the flat point. One was made in York in 1680 by Richard Waynes, £8,950, and the second was made in York in 1678, £8,950. Near identical examples of both cups are in the William Lee Collection, held in the York Minster Undercroft.

Another interesting piece with a local provenance is a Spode porcelain spill vase, hand-painted with a view of York Minster, c.1820, from Carolyn Stoddart-Scott, £340. Antique maps are always a source of fascination and J Dickinson Maps & Prints has an excellent choice of local topographical subjects including a map of the West Riding of Yorkshire by Jan Jansson from 1646, £595.

Northern artists have a strong following in this part of the country and Haynes Fine Art is putting on a good show including Warm skies over an industrial landscape by Brian Shields (aka Braaq), who was born into a Liverpool family in 1951 and A View of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh by Louis H Grimshaw (1870-1943), £235,000, born in Leeds. For something more contemporary, Richwood Fine Art is bringing a study for the painting Four colours, Black + White Visual Grey, warm and cold yellow sensation by Bridget Riley (born 1931) , one of the foremost exponents of Op Art, £45,760. Other fine art dealers are Ashleigh House Fine Art and Cambridge Fine Art.

A mix of 19th and 20th century bronze sculpture such as Reflections among the Ruins by Dominique Alonzo, c.1920, £4,450, and contemporary wildlife bronzes by Robert Glen (b.1940), who lives in Tanzania, are being offered by Garret & Hurst Sculpture. More options are available from Hickmet Fine Arts with an excellent early 20th century bronze figure of a reclining lioness, c.1900, signed Valton, £2,650 and a late 19th century bronze group of a family of hares, signed J Moigniez, c.1870, £6,850.

The ‘look’ of the fair is always cleverly defined by the dealers, who go to great lengths to create a room-set in order to give visitors ideas and inspiration on how to display items at home often using a combination of antique and contemporary pieces. William Cook Antiques has a number of eye-catching pieces of furniture such as an unusual William IV games table, c.1835, £1,600, and a Regency period mahogany bookcase, c.1800, £3,300. A great choice of oak and country furniture is available from Melody Antiques as well as quirky accessories tracked down by Mike Melody, who has an excellent eye for spotting the unusual.

Lighting is paramount in any interior and Fileman Antiques’ stand is cleverly lit with a pair of cut glass and ormolu candelabra by F & C Osler, c.1880, £3,200, as well as other glass items including drinking vessels and a pair of Regency cut glass drum base candlesticks, c.1800, £5,000). Antique glass, both English and Continental, is also available from another specialist glass dealer Mark J West and more silver highlights are on offer from Ilkley based silver dealer Jack Shaw & Co including a Charles II silver porringer, c 1683, £6,500.

A 2,000 year old apple is one of the more intriguing objects to be found with Odyssey, a dealer in ancient and medieval antiquities and coins. This carbonated apple was found with other fruit during the late 19th century excavations on the site of the market place in the Roman city of Pompeii. Its blackened and petrified state is a result of the intense heat due to being buried by hot volcanic ash when Pompeii was engulfed following the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24th August AD 79. This extremely rare example is from the collection of antiquities formed by the late Rev Geoffrey Elford Stephens, £550.

Jewellery, whether for the gentleman or the lady, is well provided at the fair with a sparkling choice from Plaza showing a 1950’s 18 carat gold, sapphire and diamond brooch by the Swiss master jeweller, Gubelin, £7,500, a sapphire and diamond ring, c.1950 from Anderson Jones, £5,000 or for something less showy, Sue Brown is bringing an Austrian carved amethyst, nephrite and diamond brooch in the shape of wild violets, c.1930, £2,400. For the gentleman, there is a good selection of vintage timepieces from Howell 1870 including a men’s steel Jaquet Droz chronograph, c.1960, £750.

The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited has an ongoing relationship with the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association. QEST is represented at Harewood by two scholars demonstrating their skills, Teresa Dybisz, a stone carver and sculptor based in Leeds and Andrian Melka, a sculptor working in bronze, living in Tadcaster. Both have pieces for sale at the fair or commissions can be taken for a bespoke item.

There is also the opportunity to seek advice and look at examples of work carried out by T L Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration. Tim Phelps has worked on restoration of Chippendale furniture at Harewood House.

Light refreshments are available within the fair or more substantial catering is available at the Courtyard at Harewood. Ingrid Nilson, director of The Antiques Dealers Fairs Limited said, “We are looking forward to returning to Yorkshire in May and to seeing many of our loyal visitors again as well as welcoming new faces. There is plenty for everyone to discover”.

Harewood House members are welcomed at the fair free-of-charge. Tickets are £5 each and include free parking and access to Harewood’s grounds and Below Stairs. For an extra £5, antiques fair ticket holders can visit Harewood House’s State Rooms, including the current Victorian Harewood exhibitions and other contemporary exhibitions. Harewood House was a major set for ITV’s Victoria series with the Cinnamon Drawing Room, the Gallery and the Old Kitchen being prominent features in the lavish period drama. Victoria – a costume exhibition presents an impressive collection of costumes from the programme, including the iconic Coronation dress worn by ‘Queen Victoria’, played by Jenna Coleman, in series one. Victorian Harewood also showcases the many rooms used in the series, plus personal objects, letters and archival material from Harewood’s collection including a collection of personal etchings of their children and family pets by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. This collection was given to Princess Mary on the day she married Viscount Lascelles, who became the 6th Earl of Harewood.

Dining in Style – Victorian service in the State Dining Room

Visit Harewood to see a milliefiori service

Visitors to Harewood House this spring bank holiday (14th April – 17th April 2017) will be treated to a fantastic table display in the State Dining Room. Emulating a Victorian dinner service, the stunning table is decorated with beautiful millefiori glassware service and silver candelabra.

Daily throughout the spring bank holiday, our guides will be giving a free, introductory talk at 11:30 on food and drink for visitors in the State Floor.

About the Millefiori Service

Baccarat enamelled and gilt glass service in the Venetian-style with flower-sprays (millefiori) inset and gilt foliage. Cut star on plates, white foliage on wine glasses. Dated pre-1864 (as recorded in Hamilton Palace inventory).

The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers) used to describe a distinctive glass pattern. This flower like pattern is produced by heating a bundle of thin glass rods of different colours until the rods fuse together.  It is a term that came into common usage in the Victorian period and was included in the Oxford English Dictionary from 1849.

Visit Yorkshire to see porcelain and glassware at Harewood

This millefiori service at Harewood consists of 242 pieces: two tier centre pieces, vases and covers, tazzas, bowl, bowls on feet, small and medium plates, dishes, finger bowls, wine glasses, liqueur glasses, tumblers, water jugs and decanters.

This spring bank holiday you will see one third of the service laid out on the State Dining Room table.  The ‘service à la française’ was a style of dining popular in the Victorian period where various dishes for a meal are served at the same time, contrary to ‘service à la russe’, where dishes were brought to each guest by a footman.

On the State Dining Room table this spring you will also see sugared almonds, fruits and flavoured jellies, all common sweet treats served at a Victorian dinner party.

Below Stairs, you can see copper moulds used for jellies by 19th century chefs in the Old Kitchen.

A Unique Provenance

Tracing the provenance of items such as this service can be challenging. We found a reference in the Chesterfield House Inventory from 1920, (the London home of the 6th Earl of Harewood) as ‘coming from Hamilton Palace’.

From recent discussions with the Museum of Scotland, we know the service was originally purchased by the 11th Duke and Duchess of Hamilton for their new London townhouse before it was taken to Hamilton Palace in Scotland sometime between 1866 and 1870.

Hamilton Palace, located 10 miles from Glasgow, was seat of the Duke of Hamilton from 1642. The superb Hamilton Palace collection consisted of furniture, antiquities, fine and decorative art, and was so grand it rivaled the royal collection.

During the mid-19th century, much of the collection had to be sold due to debts of £1.5 million with the first major sale taking place in 1882.

In 1895, the 13th Duke of Hamilton, Lieutenant Alfred Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, inherited the dukedom, property and debts. These debts led to a final sale and auction which marked the ultimate dispersal of the Hamilton Palace collection in 1919.

The story doesn’t end there; the Palace itself was demolished in 1927 due to subsidence caused by coals mines owned by the Hamilton family.

Visit Leeds to see porcelain and glassware at Harewood House

This bank holiday (14th – 17th April 2017) the service is displayed as part of our year-long focus on Harewood’s Victorian history. See this service for a limited time only and enjoy all the Victorian Harewood displays throughout the House.