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Examining our rare Axminster Carpet in preparation for conservation

Visit Yorkshire to see rare Axminster Carpets

Harewood House is well known for its outstanding art collections. Each object requires care and attention to manage and conserve it; from smaller items such as clocks and porcelain to the huge, intricate Robert Adam ceilings, every single part of the collection must be cared for and maintained.

Harewood’s Yellow Drawing Room carpet is centuries old and has survived for over 200 years. This particular carpet is one of only eight in existence which are still housed in the original Robert Adam design scheme making it an important object to protect and conserve. This is a complex carpet with needlepatch repairs and discolouration in places – while the pile has worn away the knots have survived well. It is a heavy textile which takes a great deal of specialist care to move. This winter, a team of textile experts from across Britain have been looking at the carpet in more detail. May Berkouwer, Textile Conservator and Consultant led the work supported by Dr Crosby Stevens (Textile Conservator).

In order for the conservators to have the space to fully inspect the carpet, it was necessary to move it into the Gallery, the most spacious room in Harewood House. First of all, the carpet had to be carefully rolled, moved and turned over. With age, textiles can dry out which causes the fibres to become brittle. This means that any movement has the potential to cause damage. Under the watchful eye of May Berkouwer, a team of 10 Harewood staff slowly, inch by inch, rolled the carpet for transportation before repeating the process, unrolling it again so that the carpet could be mapped right side up and from the reverse.

By mapping the carpet, the conservators will be able to assess not only the repairs but also the lining and what conservation work is needed to preserve this fascinating textile. A grid pattern was created with over 35 sections by May Berkouwer and her colleague Crosby Stevens. Each section was photographed and reviewed enabling a full spectrum of damage to be assessed and a complete record of previous restoration attempts to be compiled, creating a historical chronology for the carpet. Vacuuming took place and dust samples were taken and fastness tests carried out to test resistance of fibres to eventual treatments.

The results of the final report will start to help Harewood answer important questions about the carpets future and enable us to make curatorial decisions, with expert advice, as we apply for funding to cover the cost of conservation.

This year we will open with the carpet rolled with an update for visitors on the progress we have made researching the carpet.

See a time lapse of the carpet being rolled on our YouTube Channel

Harewood Volunteer Programme – why not join us?

Now in its 19th year, the Harewood Volunteer Programme continues to go from strength to strength. In 2016, over 18,000 hours were given by volunteers, supporting Harewood House Trust. With over 200 returning volunteers, the programme, and importantly the people who give their time, are an integral part of the charity.

Each year, all Harewood’s dedicated volunteers attend a Welcome Day as Harewood House once again prepares to open its doors on 24th March. The atmosphere is always fantastic as old friends and new gather together to preview what’s in store for the forthcoming year. This year, a focus on our Victorian heritage awaits with rare objects owned by Queen Victoria on display alongside costumes from ITV’s Victoria series.

Of the 200 volunteers who regularly give their time, over half are based in the House where they play a vital role welcoming visitors. They cast a watchful eye over the rooms they are caring for making sure that our visitors, members, coach groups and schools get the best out of their time in the house.

Harewood House in Yorkshire has volunteeres

Mary Cook has volunteered in the house for over 13 years. Mary said, “I started volunteering after a friend recommended Harewood to me. 13 years later, I’m still enjoying meeting visitors and learning from them.

When you start volunteering at Harewood there isn’t a prerequisite to know everything but as you spend time in each room you gain more and more knowledge. After volunteering at Harewood I’m always buzzing and my mind is full of all the interesting people and fellow volunteers I have met that day.”

Volunteers in Yorkshire at Harewood House Farm Experience

Harewood’s Volunteer Programme extends far beyond the House with volunteers giving their time all year round in the Gardens, Bird Garden and Farm Experience. As a licensed zoo, Harewood’s Bird Garden supports students each year through the volunteer opportunities it offers. Many choose to use their time at Harewood to support further education and career ambitions in zoology and animal welfare.

With 120 acres of formal grounds including the Terrace, Himalayan Garden and Walled Garden, help and support from our dedicated band of garden volunteers is invaluable ensuring the grounds and gardens always look at their very best.

Volunteers at Harewood working in the garden

Alan Skedd, is in his 10th season as a Garden Volunteer. Alan said, “Volunteering is useful, productive and satisfying. I get pleasure from seeing how my efforts make a difference and I hope to continue volunteering until age and my health allows”.

Head Gardner, Trevor Nicholson said, “Our garden volunteers play a vital role in maintaining the grounds supporting with weeding, pruning and other tasks which can be endless in a place as large as Harewood.”

Every department from Marketing to Education values the important role that volunteers have in the Trust. At a time when the demand for volunteers is at an all-time high, we know that we are incredibly lucky to have the support and help of so many dedicated people.

To volunteer at Harewood, is to experience one of Yorkshire’s most beautiful houses and landscapes, and to be part of a very special team. Many volunteers return season after season, renewing friendships and deriving satisfaction knowing they have contributed to history of this great house.

If volunteering at Harewood is something that would appeal to you it is not too late to sign up before the House and grounds open on March 24th. There are many opportunities from the Bookshop which is entirely run and managed by volunteers, to the Shuttle Bus which was responsible for transporting over 21,000 people around Harewood in 2016.

To join the scheme or if you have any questions simply contact the Volunteer Coordinator on volunteer@harewood.org or visit our website.

Wild at Harewood

Visit Harewood Estate to see native wildlife in Yorkshire

The importance of biodiversity and the continued challenges faced by climate change have long been in the headlines. Natural space is under increasing pressure from many conflicting uses and Harewood is no different. The grade 1 listed parkland, designed by “Capability” Brown, has remained largely unchanged since its creation in the late 18th century with Hebridean sheep still rearing their lambs here in spring. So how is biodiversity fairing here and what is are we doing to manage it?

In 2015, the British Trust for Ornithology publicised a document, Birds of Conservation Concern 4, which reviewed the status of birds in the UK. 30% of the 244 species assessed were assigned to the Red List of Conservation Concern. A quick cross check shows that more than 75 of the species listed as Red or Amber have been seen at Harewood, and almost 50 of them occur here regularly. This includes woodcock, lapwing, curlew, grey partridge, tree sparrow, skylark and cuckoo.

Work to conserve and protect our native bird life has been top of the agenda for many years at Harewood. The successful reintroduction of red kites to the Harewood Estate in 1999 has been one of the most prominent and best known. We’re pleased to say that the kites moved to the green list for the first time; this enigmatic and majestic raptor has been allowed to recover sufficiently to be down listed, one of the great British conservation success stories.

Clearly Harewood has an important role to play in the conservation of these species. Our farming and woodland operations are already factoring in safeguarding space for these and many other species. The creation of wetlands and hedgerows are just two examples of biodiversity projects which have enriched the local flora, fauna and wildlife at Harewood.

It’s not just birds you can find here, we have a near full complement of native mammals too! Harewood’s Deer Park holds both red and fallow deer, with the shy Roe also living in our woodlands. Autumn is the best time to see the rutt when male deer assert their dominance over the herd, with the red stags being particularly vocal. Pastures throughout the Estate support badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, while in our waterways lurk the elusive otters and water voles.

Spring is perhaps my favourite time to see wildlife at Harewood as the woodlands come alive with bluebells and snowdrops, and new shoots of green growth sprout from ancient oaks, beech and chestnut trees. Walking around the bridleways you can hear the drumming of woodpeckers and the mewing of kites and buzzards high overhead. Barn owls can also been seen hunting in the early evening as they find food for their already well grown chicks.

So biodiversity is doing well here, but the days of a country estate just being managed as somewhere idyllic for a privileged few to stroll around and enjoy the views are long gone. We’re a modern estate with business interests and a number of competing obligations. We have a successful farming company, managing the land in partnership with neighbouring farmers. Most recently, we invested in a major green energy project, which uses wood chip from our own woodland to heat offices and residences across the estate including Harewood House itself. This makes good business sense and it’s positive for the environment too. We are now managing our woodlands in a more hands on way that considers the needs of the wildlife that lives here.

Across all our operations were striving to protect and enhance our habitats and create a well-managed landscape that balances the needs of biodiversity and business in a sustainable way.

See wildlife footage on our YouTube channel

 

The Antiques & Fine Art Fair

The Antiques & Fine Art Fair at Harewood returns to the spectacular surroundings of Harewood House at an earlier time of 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 near Leeds in West Yorkshire, dubbed one of the great Treasure Houses of England.

The fair, supported by Knight Frank Harrogate, now in its 6th year, is a firm fixture in the diary for the discerning interior decorator or private buyer looking for distinctive, unusual and individual pieces for the home. There are around 30 exhibitors taking part, the majority being members of BADA or LAPADA, the leading UK dealers’ trade associations, and all abide by strict codes of practice.

One of the highlights of the fair is an important, possibly unique, pair of George III cast neo-classical silver vases made in London in 1792 by William Holmes, priced at £11,750 from Mary Cooke Antiques. This type of vase is extremely rare and the work of William Holmes is also scarce. These vases are particularly appropriate for Harewood, though not directly designed by Robert Adam, their form is strongly influenced by his design books and Adam worked extensively at Harewood during this period. From local silver dealer, Jack Shaw & Co of Ilkley is a Charles II lidded tankard, London 1682, POA. With London Silver Vaults dealer, Stephen Kalms Antiques also exhibiting, visitors will be spoilt for choice.

A visually interesting and decorative stand, always ablaze with light, is Fileman Antiques – one of the few specialist antique lighting and glass dealers – bringing a pair of cut glass and ormolu candelabra by F & C Osler, made around 1880, £3,200 and a pair of Regency cut glass drum base candlesticks, dated 1800, £5,000. Mark J West has a wide selection of antique and decorative glass including Art Deco vases, scent bottles and cocktail shakers. Glass has always been a highlight of fine dining and his stand has excellent examples of drinking glasses to suit all tastes. One particular decorative piece is a Biedermeier cup and saucer from Austria, c 1820, priced at £440. Carolyn Stoddart-Scott specialises in antique pottery, porcelain and decorative items with pieces by Sèvres, Worcester, Wedgwood and Coalport. For Harewood she is showing a set of six English pearlware plates decorated with peafowl, c 1800, POA.

An excellent collection of sculpture, both antique and contemporary can be found with Garret & Hurst Sculpture including Vanité, c 1886, by Henri Levasseur (1853-1934), £8,895 and Warthog by Robert Glen, £10,200. Robert Glen was born in Kenya in 1940 and his true love of the African bush has led to him to live in a simple camp with a studio in Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, where he can sculpt and sketch the wildlife at first hand. Odyssey offers Egyptian, Greek and other antiquities from the classical period spanning thousands of years of history. This is a fascinating stand to linger over and highlights of interest include an imposing Roman portrait head of a man in fine grain marble, dated c 1st-2nd century AD. The short wavy hairstyle is typical of that sported by members of the Imperial families or military commanders of the time although the identity of this man remains a mystery. It is priced at £3,250. From a different part of the world comes an eastern Greek banded lydion (perfume container), which dates to the mid 6th century BC and was probably used to contain baccaris, a perfume base oil for which Sardis in Lydia was noted in antiquity. This attractive example of a scarce type of Greek pottery has a price tag of £450.

Jewellery at the fair is a feast for the eyes and noteworthy pieces include a sapphire and diamond ring, c1950, priced in the region of £5,000 from Anderson Jones Ltd. Floral-themed jewellery includes an Austrian amethyst, nephrite and diamond brooch in the shape of wild violets, c1930, £2,400 and a Georgian two-colour gold pansy brooch, £3,300, both from Sue Brown. For the gentleman, Howell 1870 is bringing a selection of vintage watches including a man’s steel Jaquet Droz chronograph fitted with Valjoux calibre 7753 movement, c1960, £750. Other jewellers include Plaza and Shapiro & Co.

Specialists in oak and country furniture, Melody Antiques has an excellent selection to suit every taste from a cottage to a castle. Pictures to suit every taste and pocket can be found around the fair from J Dickinson Maps & Prints, Cambridge Fine Art and Ashleigh House Fine Art.

Antiques fair ticket holders (£5 each) gain complimentary access to Harewood’s grounds, gardens and Below Stairs, as well as free parking. For an additional £5 each, (saving £11.50 on an Adult Freedom ticket), fair visitors can upgrade to see the State Rooms and the current exhibition, Victoria – a costume exhibition is open from 24 March until 29 October. Harewood House was recently used as a major set for ITV’s Victoria series. Visit www.harewood.org for more information.

Launched last year at the Harewood fair, The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited has an ongoing association with the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association that helps talented craftspeople pursue and hone their talents. QEST scholars will be in attendance across all four days of the fair, showcasing their skills and selling their work.

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. Advisors from Wilson Mitchell & Co. Ltd, a senior partner practice of St. James’s Place Wealth Management, will be happy to discuss investments with their clients and other interested visitors.

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 says, “We look forward to returning to Yorkshire in May and to seeing many of our loyal visitors again.”

Your Photographs

Each year we are privileged to see your wonderful images of Harewood. From striking landscapes and penguins to quiet picnics and big events, your images are a part of Harewood’s history. If you would like to share your images with us our social media channels on Facebook and Twitter are perfect places.