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Learning Outside the Classroom

The Learning Team here at Harewood are thrilled to announce that we have been awarded a quality badge by the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom.

This year our team has launched a brand-new learning programme filled with exciting workshops and tours for educational groups. We are so pleased by the positive reaction to the new programme, which has been rated consistently ‘Oustanding’ by teachers, and look forward to what the next few months will bring.

 

What is the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom?

As a registered charity the Council are champions of learning outside the classroom.

They believe in equal opportunities for all children to experience life outside of the classroom. They wish to ensure that more young people have access to life changing educational experiences.

Find out more about the council for Learning Outside the Classroom at https://www.lotc.org.uk/

 

Sandford Award

Harewood is also recipient of the prestigious Sandford Award, which celebrates high quality heritage education and provides independent quality assurance to sites that run formal education programmes in the UK and Ireland.

Find out more about the Sandford Award at https://www.heritageeducationtrust.org/about-the-sandford-award 

If you would like to speak to a member of the Learning Team about our current programme they can be reached at learn@harewood.org.

 

References

Learning Outside the Classroom Website – https://www.lotc.org.uk/

An Outstanding October at Harewood

Primley Wood Primary

It’s certainly been an exciting start to the new school year, as well as launching several brand-new workshops we’ve also been busy delivering some old favourites too!

October saw us teach the first of our Harewood & the Transatlantic Slave Trade workshops. This session has been designed to highlight Harewood’s historic links to the horrific practice, as well as discussing the trade and its wider legacies. Harewood is dedicated to an Open History and acknowledges the importance of addressing these important topics with all ages.

We have been so pleased to have been rated outstanding by all of the schools who have taken part in our new workshops so far. All of the positive and lovely feedback has been greatly appreciated.

”The workshop was fantastic as not only did it explore the slave trade, it also had strong links to Harewood House and its own challenging history. The children were able to look at replica sources and documents during the session which we would not have had access to if teaching the lesson at school. The workshop was also cross-curricular as we did some map work based on the location of different plantations, some investigative source work and had lots of discussion. We then had a tour of the house by the staff members whose expertise shone through.”

-Teacher, Primley Wood Primary, October 2022

If you would like to find out more about available workshops, our friendly Learning Team can be reached via email at learn@harewood.org.

Primley Wood Primary

The Gift of a Green Turtle

Whilst exploring Harewood’s Old Kitchen, visitors may notice an unusual decoration perched above one of its cooking ranges – a large shell belonging to a green sea turtle. In this article, Harewood’s volunteer researcher, Olivia Wyatt, and Curator, Beckie Burton, discuss the turtle shell’s wider significance and a recent discovery in the archive.

An intriguing letter, written by William Bishop to John Wood Nelson in the summer of 1800, was recently discovered in the Lascelles family’s West Indian archive held at the Borthwick Institute in York. It reads: 

“I send a very fine Green Turtle of 75 lbs weight, which, through you, I beg may be forwarded in my name for Lord Harewood’s acceptance and […] another very fine Green Turtle of nearly 50 lbs weight which I must request you will do me the kind favour of placing on your own table.”

The letter raises many questions. Who was William Bishop? Why did he send several sea turtles halfway across the world from Barbados to Britain? And why might the recipients want to ‘place them on their table’? The answers reveal the historic cultural and social significance of the Caribbean green sea turtle, as well as help us to understand the ways in which the Lascelles family managed their West Indian plantations.

 

Turtle for the table

Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) are native to tropical and subtropical waters around the world, including the Caribbean region. During the eighteenth century turtles were an important source of food for island inhabitants, providing the native, free and enslaved populations with meat, eggs and oil. Turtle meat was also used to ‘revive’ famished Africans arriving on slaving ships. European colonists learned about the nutritional benefits of the green sea turtle from the indigenous Miskitu people of eastern Nicaragua and Honduras, and many Europeans initially believed turtles possessed magical medicinal qualities.

The culinary reputation of the sea turtle inevitably spread via colonial trade networks to Europe, with live turtles shipped across the Atlantic in large tubs of seawater to ensure their ‘freshness’ upon arrival. Dishes such as turtle soup were created, which involved boiling and baking turtle meat with varying combinations of vegetables and spices; the bestselling eighteenth-century cookery book The Art of Cookery by Hannah Glasse contained several turtle recipes, such as how to prepare it ‘the West India Way’. Turtles were rare commodities in Europe, and as such its meat came to be considered a delicacy. Turtle dishes developed a reputation as high-status cuisine, available only to those with access to global trade and its closed systems of communication, transport and finance. Accordingly, serving a dish containing turtle at the dinner table implied a level of status and wealth, and became a way for hosts to show off and impress guests.


The turtle shell hanging in the Old Kitchen at Harewood today almost certainly belonged to a turtle that was consumed in the House or possibly at an external event hosted by the family; for instance, Edwin Lascelles, the builder of Harewood House, is recorded as having provided a ‘Turtle-feast’ to the ‘gentlemen of [his] neighbourhood’ in ‘Chapel-Town’ in 1767. In fact, the presence of several turtle shells in Harewood’s wider collection reveals an eager consumption of this high-status commodity by the Lascelles family. The shells themselves were kept for decorative purposes, a culinary trophy that continued to hold prestige and intrigue even after the turtle itself was gone.

The gift of a green turtle, then, was one of cultural capital, offering prestige and status to its new eighteenth-century owners. It is also representative of the broader context of exploration, conquest and enslavement that defined British colonialism. William Bishop’s turtles would have been shipped alongside other desirable Caribbean products such as sugar and rum, their production enabled by the systematic trade and exploitation of enslaved African Caribbean people. This was a trade that the Lascelles family dominated, and were amongst its most successful beneficiaries. 

But who were the individuals involved in this particular transaction of turtles and what was their relationship?

 

A transaction of turtles 

By 1800, the Lascelles family managed a network of 24 Caribbean plantations located across several Caribbean islands: Barbados; Jamaica; Trinidad; and Grenada. However, their business interests were administered from Britain, relying on a hierarchy of managers to carry out day-to-day operations on both sides of the Atlantic. Both William Bishop and John Wood Nelson (the second recipient of a turtle after ‘Lord Harewood’, later 1st Earl of Harewood) were a part of this system.  

Nelson was a senior partner in the Laselles family’s London commission house, a business established to sell products (such as sugar) shipped over from Lascelles family plantations. Bishop was Nelson’s counterpart in Barbados, appointed to oversee the running of family estates on the island. Men based in the Caribbean such as Bishop were known as ‘attorneys’ and were responsible for reporting back to the commission house; it took approximately two months for letters to arrive by ship from the Caribbean to London, so it was essential for the Lascelles family to hire powerful and trustworthy individuals to deal with immediate problems on plantations, such as uprisings. In the mid-1790s, William Bishop was selected as an attorney because he had been born in Barbados and belonged to a prominent family with pre-existing connections to the Lascelles family; he had also already served as interim governor of Barbados from 1793-94. By 1800 – the date of this gift of turtles – Bishop had risen to the prestigious position of President of the Barbados Council.

Close up of a letter between William Bishop and John Wood Nelson showing a date stamp

Bishop’s letter is dated 18 July, but the red stamp on the envelope, dated 26 September, indicates that it was received by Nelson over two months later. (Photograph by Olivia Wyatt)

This hierarchical management structure explains why Bishop wrote a letter to Nelson to request that his gift of a turtle was “forwarded in [his] name for Lord Harewood’s acceptance”. As Lord Harewood’s main contact, Bishop needed Nelson to physically present the turtle, though he was keen to ensure he received due credit as the sender. Interestingly, Bishop was also obliged to send Nelson himself a turtle, understanding the importance of impressing both Lord Harewood and a senior partner within a bureaucratic management system. In fact, the dismissal of Bishop’s predecessor, John Prettyjohn, for incompetence may have increased his desire to make a good impression. Nevertheless, the not-so-subtle size difference between the two turtle gifts – Lord Harewood’s being 25 lbs larger – demonstrates Bishop’s acknowledgement of the difference in status and authority between the two recipients.  

In this context, then, the gift of a green turtle can also be seen as a calculated act of professional point-scoring. It is unknown whether Lord Harewood or Nelson acknowledged their extravagant gifts, though it is certain they would have been gladly received.

 

Olivia Wyatt and Beckie Burton, 2022.  

The Ferry at Harewood

Why isn’t the Ferry running?

Harewood’s Ferry made its maiden voyage in June 2018 and has carried thousands of Harewood visitors every week between the Bird Garden, Bothy and Walled Garden.
In May 2022, the water level in the Lake started to decrease due to low rainfall throughout winter and spring. In June the water level reached a point where the Ferry ran aground and could no longer run. The mud banking you can see around the Lake has not been seen since the Lake was last drained many decades ago.

When will it be operating again?

Unless the weather for the remaining half of the year features a consistent and heavy amount of rain, it is unlikely that the water level will reach a point where we can operate the Ferry again until 2023.
Harewood House Trust, the charity that looks after this site, and the Harewood Estate are working with the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council to ensure the health and wellbeing of Harewood’s wildlife that rely on the Lake. The Trust and Estate are also looking at the Lake’s infrastructure to help plan and mitigate against the impact of climate change, including prolonged periods of dry weather.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

Harewood House Trust Appoints Darren Pih as Chief Curator and Artistic Director

Pih joins the Harewood House Trust executive team from Tate Liverpool. In this new role, he will lead the charity’s award-winning exhibition programme, and care for the museum’s outstanding collection of painting, decorative interiors, furniture and porcelain. His work will further Harewood’s purpose to make heritage relevant, using the collections and landscape to help shape a more sustainable world, unlock people’s creativity and enrich lives.

Over the past five years, Harewood has received universal recognition for its innovative programming including the Harewood Biennial alongside its new Craft Spotlight and Open History series addressing the urgent issues of our time from equality, diversity and inclusion, and social and environmental issues prevalent in society today. Darren has worked across exhibitions that have featured many of today’s leading artists, has toured major exhibitions for Tate Liverpool around the world, and has commissioned several new works. Most recently, his Radical Landscapes exhibition explores climate emergency, trespass and social and cultural change through a century of landscape art – an exhibition which shares Harewood’s values entirely.

With a history of collections care and producing exhibitions closely linked to Harewood’s programming ambitions, trustee of Harewood House Trust Iwona Blazwick OBE commented:

‘Pih’s deep engagement with modern and contemporary art will bring a dynamic new perspective to Harewood, connecting its distinguished history of arts patronage with the present. I can’t wait to see what his curatorial vision will contribute – not only to Harewood’s great legacy but the wider Yorkshire art scene’.

Since 2017, Harewood – which reached a record-breaking 250,000 visitors in 2021 – has been pushing the boundaries of its programming under the leadership of Jane Marriott, building on the Trust’s and the Lascelles’ commitment to acknowledging the estate’s colonial past for over 30 years, and exploring and provoking conversation around societal issues that affect us all. This commitment remains stronger than ever and is central to the Trust’s programming aims, the work of its staff and volunteers, and working with the communities in and around Leeds.

Trust Director Jane Marriott comments of Darren’s appointment:

‘I am delighted to welcome Darren as Harewood’s first Chief Curator and Artistic Director. This role epitomises our ambitions to reimagine the country house for the 21st century with bold, exciting and innovative programming. Darren brings a thoughtful approach and excellent track record, in combining the care of historic collections with the work of contemporary artists, in order to develop our ambitions as a charity and museum.’

Darren Pih’s first major exhibition under his curatorial lead will be Harewood’s second Craft Spotlight, to be announced later this year, and a Harewood ‘year of play’ to coincide with Leeds 2023 celebrations. On his appointment, he said:

‘I am delighted to be joining Harewood and contributing to its ambitions by leading its exhibitions programme. Harewood and its history make it a unique site for presenting art and ideas that engage with many of the most urgent issues of our time, including environmental responsibility, colonialism and social inclusion. It’s a fantastic opportunity to create new knowledge around its collections, by bringing contemporary and modern art into dialogue with the heritage and history of Harewood.’

Download the full press release including editor’s notes >>