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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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Thousands set for Brownlee Tri 2016

Harewood House is a great place to visit

Thousands of triathletes, young and old will descend on Harewood House, Leeds this Saturday for Alistair and Jonny Brownlee’s fourth annual triathlon.

The Olympic triathlon gold and silver medallists will join over 1500 registered participants and a crowd of 5000 spectators at the spectacular Harewood Estate.

In addition to taking part in the Sprint, Super Sprint or Relay, the Brownlee Brothers encourage participants to bring along their friends and family and enjoy the Entertainment Village.

Speaking upon returning home after finishing runner-up in the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Championships in dramatic fashion, Olympic silver medallist Jonny Brownlee said,

“With just days to go until the big day we can’t wait for the event to start. It’s always a great way to end the season and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone there.”

Double Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee said,

“Brownlee Tri is a fantastic family day and we hope to see as many of you as possible at Harewood House on Saturday. We wish everyone taking part the very best of luck!”

After months of build-up, the event is nearly upon us. This year’s route includes a fantastic open water swim with pontoon entry and exit, a traffic-free closed road cycle and a new off-road run, covering trails that the Brownlee brothers train on.

The Brownlee Tri will also have a packed Entertainment Village offering sports activities, a variety of delicious catering and refreshment outlets, music, stands and retail. Described as the “perfect balance of a family day out and sporting event” and “an amazing first triathlon”, the Brownlee Tri offers something for everyone.

The event also features a free Brownlee Foundation Kids’ Duathlon delivered by the British Triathlon Trust for children of all ages, offering the perfect introduction to the sport.

Find out more information at www.brownleetri.com or head to Harewood House on Saturday 24 September to be a part of it. Car parking is £5 per car with registration and the Entertainment Village opening at 8.00am.

Costumes from ITV’s Victoria series to go on display at Harewood House

Victoria on ITV was filmed at Harewood and includes Jenna Coleman

Harewood House was recently used as a major set for ITV’s Victoria series. The crew filmed across Yorkshire for several months during winter 2015/16; Harewood was fortunate enough to be one of the key locations. The production company, Mammoth Screen, used much of Harewood’s State Floor, Below Stairs and part of the Estate. There was some amazing set dressing transforming Harewood into Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.

Visit Leeds to see costumes worn by Jenna Coleman in Victoria

To celebrate the success of the programme, which has been ITV’s highest rated drama of 2016, the opulent rooms on Harewood’s State Floor will come to life with costumes from the programme. Outfits worn by Jenna Coleman who plays Queen Victoria will be displayed throughout the 2017 season.

Alexis Guntrip, Marketing Manager, Harewood House said:

“We are delighted to be exhibiting costumes from Victoria in 2017. We worked very closely with the production company throughout the filming period; this is the icing on the cake! The programme has created a lot of interest from visitors to Harewood already. The costume exhibition will provide a wonderful opportunity for period drama fans to become part of the story.”

Alongside the costumes, visitors will be able to explore this fascinating age through the eyes of three influential women. Lady Louisa, 3rd Countess of Harewood, Lady Charlotte Canning and Queen Victoria herself. See personal objects owned by Queen Victoria and her Lady in Waiting, Charlotte, and learn about how Lady Louisa altered the very fabric of Harewood House in a grand redevelopment.

New Victorian Harewood Tour

Inspired by the 2017 exhibitions, Harewood is offering a new group tour for parties of 15 or more. The one hour tour will be presented by Harewood’s expert guides and will include objects, personal letters and archival material from Harewood’s collection. Alongside the historical stories, groups can learn more about how Harewood prepares for filming in the house, what rooms were used in Victoria, and see the wonderful dresses worn by Jenna Coleman in the series.

Highlights

Victoria – a costume exhibition

English School miniature of Queen Victoria replicating a Franz Xaver Winterhalter portrait

Queen Victoria’s writing set

A bracelet given to Lady Charlotte Canning by Queen Victoria

A day in the life of the Bird Garden team

Visit Yorkshire to see our Bird Garden

I took on my role as Bird Garden and Farm Experience Manager in December 2015, joining Harewood from Edinburgh Zoo. As manager, it’s my responsibility to oversee the daily running of the Bird Garden and the newly created Farm Experience. It’s an exciting, busy part of Harewood which is at the start of a three year development plan to enhance this much loved part of the grounds.

My day begins at 8am when I arrive at the Bird Garden kitchen with the rest of the team. The Bird Garden is home to 37 different bird species which all have specific dietary needs. From the tall, elegant cranes to the critically endangered Bali starling, we make sure each bird has the right food. We also prepare buckets of chopped carrots, apples, pears and leafy greens for our rabbits, guinea pigs and farm animals.

Once prepared, we head to the Bird Garden and begin the task of feeding and cleaning all the aviaries. We check all the birds to make sure that they are in good health whist we’re in the enclosures before the visitors arrive. One of my personal favourites in the Bird Garden are our family of palm cockatoos. These are unusual birds and it’s the first time I’ve worked with them. The youngest of the three birds is very inquisitive and he will often fly around the keepers, watching them closely as we clean and prepare the large aviary.

At this time of year we often find nests full of eggs which we will leave with parents to look after. On some occasions it may be necessary to take the eggs carefully to our artificial incubation room. Here we place them in specially designed incubators and hand rear any chicks that might hatch.

Once all of the birds are fed and checked, we go for a well- earned cup of coffee!

The next job is to clean out the farm animal paddocks and give them their first feed of the day. At 12pm, one of the keepers will take a bucket of eggs, veg and fruit to the pig enclosure. Here we invite visitors to take an item from the bucket and throw it over the fence for the pigs to enjoy. They are full of character and, since their arrival in March, I’ve grown very fond of them. Once the pigs have had their fill, we move onto the next paddock. Once again visitors can feed leafy greens to our hungry pygmy goats.

After lunch, I often leave the Bird Garden and Farm in the capable hands of the team and head over to the office to carry out the necessary (and inevitable!) paperwork for the day. This includes record keeping, ordering supplies, planning for upcoming events, liaising with the vet, managing new arrivals and arranging transportation of animals who may be leaving our care.

A significant role for the Bird Garden is the care and preservation of endangered species. Many of the birds we manage are in captive breeding programmes which supports their ongoing survival. These breeding programmes exist to support the genetic variation of captive populations. Computer databases help compile studbooks that record the details of each individual animal in the programme. This includes the animal’s sex, date of birth, and full family history. No money changes hands when we exchange animals with other zoos. Our aim is purely to save and protect endangered wildlife.

We have welcomed several new additions including six Humboldt penguins which arrived in early March from the Cotswold Wildlife Park in Oxfordshire. We also took on an egg which our colony have adopted. We hope that this foster-chick will hatch soon.

Other new additions include a pair of cheer pheasants which form part of our Himalayan themed enclosures overlooking the Lake, and a large group of roul roul partridge, an appealing, ground dwelling bird from Borneo.

When I’m in the office, it’s also the time that I catch up with the rest of the team who work outside the Bird Garden. The team at Harewood have a lot to juggle from school groups to TV interviews!

At 3:30pm, I will head back to the Bird Garden to carry out the Daily Penguin Talk and often find myself introducing not only the penguins, but also the wild grey herons and red kites that visit the enclosure hoping they might help themselves to a sprat or two!

Once I have answered the varied and interesting questions from visitors, I will either head back to the office, or carry out a variety of tasks around the Bird Garden until it is time to close for the evening. Every day there are new and exciting challenges arriving, so no two days are ever the same.

By Nick Dowling, Bird Garden and Farm Experience Manager

Chief Executives Report 2016

A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes this winter and I am very much hoping it will bring some excellent, new things for you to see and do in the coming season. There has been so much change. Read on!

The landscape at Harewood was sculpted by Capability Brown

As 2016 marks the tercentenary of the birth of Capability Brown, we will be opening up the South Front to allow you to see the House and parkland from a different perspective. You will be able to have a closer look at the foundations of Gawthorpe Hall, the medieval manor which pre-dates Harewood House.

The House itself is naturally one of the best viewing platforms to see Brown’s amazing work. We will be making sure this is well interpreted through a series of exhibitions and displays providing both a historical and contemporary context. Please see inside for more details.

Harewood House is used as a location for ITV's Victoria

The House has been very busy over the winter period hosting a large ITV production. Filming is an important part of our income and we will have updates about what we’ve been working on this winter soon.

We have begun a three year programme of development in the Bird Garden which will re-launch this much loved area of Harewood.. We are developing a Himalayan theme within the bird collection and plan to introduce several bird species from the region later this season. This will sit very closely with the many plants, trees and shrubs that can be seen in our own Himalayan Garden. Alongside this work, we are creating a strong education and conservation message to best interpret the birds on display.

Across the wider Estate, Harewood has introduced many successful conservation initiatives. We felt it was important to show you some of these projects through fresh interpretation. Plans are in place to introduce this additional interpretation throughout the season. Restored areas of the Bird Garden will be devoted to indigenous species of birds, mammals and insects. We are also introducing a new minibeast trail too!

Not only will we be portraying our message about British wildlife, but also the importance of conservation worldwide. There will be a strong message about critically endangered species across the globe, and we will be advising visitors about how they can do their bit supporting animal conservation projects. Last but not least, our “old favourites”, the penguins, flamingos, owls and parrots will be better displayed and we will be telling you much more about them.

I hope that this project will create considerable interest and there will be opportunities for everyone, adults and school children, to get involved and engage with the Bird Garden at several levels.

Harewood-Farm-Experience-credit-Harewood-House-Trust-and-John-Steel-(3)

For the first time we will be offering a Farm Experience geared to our younger visitors. There will be rabbits to pet, donkeys, goats and pigs, and maybe even alpacas! Please bring your children and grandchildren to see this exciting new attraction.

Our Visitor Information Centre and Visitor Experience Team are moving from the car park to the eastern side of the Courtyard where it will be co-located with the Gift Shop. The former space occupied by the Gift Shop will become overflow catering space on busy days. The Courtyard will be buzzing with things to see do and eat!

The old Information Centre is being redeveloped into an unmanned satellite Information Point which will be staffed on busy days. A new Yorkshire Dales ice cream kiosk is opening alongside the Yorkshire Larder and we hope that this will be popular with those who wish to picnic and play games on the North Front.

Our boat, The Capability, will be sailing again! Please check our website for details of the sailings.

There is much going on, exhibitions, events, new attractions, our second hand bookshop and last but not least the Adventure Playground. Please see inside this letter for the various details you may want and I really look forward to welcoming you back this year.