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My Christmas – Christine Wardle, Head of Development

Salzburg Christmas BlogChristmas means so many different things to different people. In part of a series of Behind the Scenes blogs, we asked the staff at the Harewood House Trust to tell us about their Christmas.

Christine Wardle is Head of Development, looking after Harewood Members and working with donors and corporate sponsorship amongst other things…

1. What is your earliest Christmas memory?
My earliest Christmas memory is of the smell of holly, wreaths and Christmas decorations, when I lived in a flower shop. We always have a real tree and real holly and mistletoe decorations. Always have a poinsettia. None of your plastic rubbish!

2. Do you have any specific Christmas traditions?
We have lots of birthdays around Christmas, on 21st, 25th and 26th December, so that’s a big influence on what we do. I love the Christmas shop in Salzburg and we have a selection of decorative eggs from there.

3. Which period from history would you have liked to celebrate Christmas in?
Not so much a period – more a place. Austria or Switzerland where it actually looks like Christmas is supposed to, but with none of the commercialisation.

4. What’s the piece of music that gets you in the festive mood?
Ooh lots of pieces of music. Sleigh Ride comes to mind. All the school bands play it.

5. What’s the nicest gift that someone has offered you / you have given?
Nicest gift? Poinsettia. Can’t start Christmas without one.#

Booking recommended for Christmas at Harewood on www.harewood.org 

We will remember…Trust Director Jane Marriott writes…

HarewoodHouseSeedsofHopeSeeds of Hope at Harewood this summer, reminded us that, whether you were home or fighting overseas, everyone was affected by the First World War. Our hope was to tell the story of those who stayed at home, contributing to the war effort by growing food and cultivating the land. The sense of community and mutual support came across strongly through the letters, diaries and stories we unearthed from that time.

There were moments of hope, as the soldiers recovered in the convalescence hospital sited in Harewood House, the opportunity women had to develop new skills as Women’s Land Army in the Walled Garden, and the Naval Award recognising Harewood’s gardeners’ contribution to the war effort. To reinforce this sense of hope and renewal, we purposefully chose to plant 1,269 sunflowers, representing all of those recovering at Harewood. Sunflowers even in decay, promise new life, as the seeds emerge when the flower dies, and can then be replanted.

We worked with an incredibly talented team; Lord Whitney, who treated the subject with such sensitivity and wonderful storytelling, that you could truly imagine the Bothy Boy’s daily toil, or Mr Leathley, the Head Gardener’s reluctant acceptance that his roses must give way to a productive garden.

Human resilience and the power to renew ourselves, even in the darkest of times, is what keeps us all going. I like to think that Harewood today can still add to this sense of peace and rejuvenation. We may only be 7 miles from Leeds city centre, but when you are here, it can feel as though you’ve completely escaped from the stresses of everyday life. Next time you visit, take a moment to gaze across the lake, watch the Red Kites swoop over the walled garden and walk through the trees of a landscape created by Capability Brown over two centuries ago.

We hope our contribution to the commemorations of the end of the First World War and the community spirit here, was a just, sobering, but also uplifting moment of reflection and insight for every generation of visitor. It seems fitting to end with part of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Futility’, which my 10-year old has been reading at school this week;

‘Move him into the sun –
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.’

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Recipients of the Heritage Education Trust’s Sandford Award

Harewood is a place families can learn about history and life below stairs

Children can discover a history Below Stairs at Harewood

Harewood House is delighted once again to become the recipient of the prestigious Heritage Education Trust’s Sandford Award, in recognition of the achievement of the Trust’s Learning programme.

An independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, The Sandford Award assesses museums, archives and collections across the British Isles, with accreditation lasting for five years. This is the seventh time since 1979 that Harewood has been awarded the accolade.

An educational charitable Trust, Harewood offers a rich and diverse range of learning opportunities with indoor and outdoor sessions for all ages, from early years to school trips and Higher Education seminars. All three of the Trust’s Collections are integrated into the sessions, inclusive of the historic house, the natural landscape and the bird garden.

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, says; “This is very good news indeed. My congratulations and warm regards go to everyone who has contributed. Education is such an important part of what we do and to have sustained the standards necessary to receive the Sandford Award over such a long period, is a great tribute to the work done here.”

Harewood is one of over 500 institutions taking part in the annual awards, which focus mainly on formal, curriculum-linked education opportunities offered to schools, and provides a kite-mark for high quality education provision.

Jane Marriott, Harewood House Trust Director, says “I am delighted that Harewood has once again been recognised for this award, the seventh time in the history of its education programme, which dates to the 1970s.

“The education of our future generations is of paramount importance to us and the opportunity to explore art, culture, history, heritage and landscape that we have at Harewood, is central to our role as a charity. We are enriched by the generations of architects, artists, designers, collectors, gardeners, and individuals who have lived and worked here over hundreds of years, and most importantly, we highlight our commitment to maintaining the relevance of Harewood and the work of the Trust, both now and in the future.”

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Award-winning Carnival Messiah – celebrating a fusion of cultures

Carnival Messiah 2017 1 - Photograph by Diane HowseIf you’ve not yet read or heard about Carnival Messiah, Geraldine Connor’s epic masterpiece, which Harewood House staged in 2007 and the Earl of Harewood co-produced, then now is the time. Ashley Karrell’s film and documentary, which features 17 years of content from the show, just won People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival

A radical reimagining of Handel’s Messiah, the original production fused music, dance, and carnival into a spectacular live performance event. It brought together over 150 local Leeds community performers, together with celebrated international artists, all on one stage with a backdrop of Harewood. The production marked the climax of a year of events at Harewood in 2007 to commemorate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

At the time, artistic director and creator Geraldine said; “It should be acknowledged that Harewood is the only stately home in the UK to be completely transparent about its involvement in the slave trade…we stand firm together in commemorating and celebrating our shared heritage.”

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, was the show’s executive producer: “We wanted to acknowledge Harewood’s history but at the same time to celebrate the present. I don’t know of any more exuberant, more spectacular, more inclusive expression of contemporary Caribbean culture than Carnival Messiah.”

Carnival Messiah The Film & Documentary, created and directed by Leeds based film-maker, Ashley Karrell features a large cast, loud music, impressive carnival costumes – and also features interviews and behind-the-scenes footage from the original production and the cast and creatives involved. The film premiered at Leeds Playhouse in September 2017 and has subsequently been screened at Leeds International Film Festival.

Geraldine passed away in 2011 and the Geraldine Connor Foundation, supported by the Lascelles family, was established. It is a way of ensuring that Geraldine’s ‘unique spirit and phenomenal impact’ are remembered and her legacy of bringing people together through arts and culture is continued. Harewood House is very proud of its association with this great production and its continuing commitment to education and working with local communities.

Watch the trailer from the film here.

To read more about the foundation of Harewood House, read here.

Gordon, A Recovering Soldier

Gordon Soldier Seeds of HopeGordon is a recovering soldier, stationed at the convalescent hospital set up within the House.

A young man from the Scottish Highlands, he, like many of the soldiers at Harewood, had never left his village until leaving to fight. War opened his eyes to awful terrors, but it also broadened his horizons and introduced him to new things.

Gordon’s injuries are worryingly serious when he first arrives, but thanks to the care he receives, and the healing atmosphere at Harewood, he makes a miraculous physical recovery. Whilst recovering, Gordon spends much of his time taking walks in the gardens, where he meets Olivia, a servant girl from the House.

Visit Seeds of Hope in the Bothy, Walled Garden and Servant’s Hall, Below Stairs, and learn more about the characters at Harewood 100 years ago. Exhibition closes Sunday 4 November.