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“The Royal Avenue” at Harewood

Earlier this week on the North Front, Harewood’s longest serving gardener of 34 years, Paul Slater, planted a young oak tree, which was grown in the Walled Garden from a seed collected in the grounds of Harewood. It was planted in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, which has the aim of creating a network of trees, avenues, copices and woodlands in honour of The Queen’s 70 years of service. The tree commemorates not only Her Majesty’s personal legacy but also marks the start of its own green legacy within Harewood’s parkland. 

Picture of Paul planting the Jubilee tree (far left), 2022.

The oldest picture of Paul we could find in the archive (far right).

But the planting of trees – and particularly those with a connection to the Royal Family – has a long tradition at Harewood. It was one started by the first ever royal visitor to Harewood, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, later Tsar Nicholas I, in 1816. The 2nd Countess of Harewood recorded the occasion in a letter to her sister, describing the Duke’s “dextrous” use of a spade to plant two young oaks in front of the House. She also noted that the whole affair had been inspired by the fact that the Grand Duke had planted two oaks at Chatsworth – clearly the Lascelles family could not be outdone by their ducal counterparts in Derbyshire!

 

Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and Princess Victoria pictured on the steps of Harewood House, July 1908.

However, the tradition of royal tree planting at Harewood really took off in the 20th century, with the visit of King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra and their daughter Princess Victoria in 1908. Their overnight stay at Harewood was the result of an official visit to Leeds, where the King opened a new building at the University of Leeds; Harewood House had been “re-beautified” for their arrival and a concert planned for the evening’s entertainment. Before leaving the next day, the Royal party each planted a tree “on the lawn near the one planted long ago by Emperor Nicholas I.” King Edward VII and Princess Victoria both planted chestnuts, and Queen Alexandra a Daimyo oak. In fact, the historic collection at Harewood still contains the very spade used to plant the trees.

 

View of Harewood House with Daimyo Oak planted by Queen Alexandra

The next major royal event for the Lascelles family – and one that changed the course of Harewood’s history for ever – was the engagement of Henry, Viscount Lascelles (later 6th Earl of Harewood) to Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary in November 1921. The engagement announcement was quickly followed by Princess Mary and her mother’s first visit to Harewood, who were enthusiastically welcomed by the people of Yorkshire. To commemorate the occasion, both Marys planted a tree on the North Front. 

 

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles outside Harewood House on the occasion of Princess Mary’s first visit to Harewood, 1921.

 

From that moment on, the close family links between Harewood and the Royal Family prompted a regular series of royal tree planting due to a high frequency of family visits. Indeed, the ring of trees that can still be enjoyed today around the back of the North Front – mainly made up of Cedars of Lebanon – was formed as a result of this tradition. The planting of cedars specifically appears to have started in 1923 by Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII), who planted a young tree not far from the iconic Copper Beech that stands directly opposite the front door of the House (planted by the 6th Earl respectively to commemorate his coming of age).  By the early 1930s, one newspaper reported that a “Royal Avenue…was growing promisingly” at Harewood and that it was steadily “assuming an imposing appearance”. 

 

Trees encircling the North Front at Harewood. Photo credit: Robert Kay

 

Over the next two decades, cedar trees were planted by almost all senior members of the British royal family, often on several occasions, including King George V, Queen Mary, Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII), the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth), Prince Henry (the Duke of Gloucester), Prince George (the Duke of Kent) and Princess Alice (a granddaughter of Queen Victoria). On one occasion, King George V had to plant his tree by proxy due to bad weather: 

“At noon there was no slackening of the downpour… but a tree was planted after all. That came about through the suggestion of the King. He saw his grandsons, two sturdy, active boys, and then said “Why should they not plant the tree?”. The two boys [George and Gerald Lascelles] jumped at the idea. Receiving permission, they rushed off to Abbott, the chief forester, and secured a car to take them to the selected spot. There they carried out the deputised task with great gusto. “It was” said a spectator, “a first class job”. That done, the two boys returned triumphantly to the House and presently sat down to tea at which the chief guest was “grandfather”. 

 

Cedars on the North Front, looking back towards the House. Photo credit: Trevor Nicholson

 

The post-war years of the late 1940s and 50s, brought the next generation of royals to Harewood, as well as a new location for tree planting – the showfield, just beyond the church, each tree cited to form another ‘avenue’. In 1949, Princess Elizabeth stayed at Harewood for a three day Tour of Yorkshire, visiting various Yorkshire cities, landmarks and events, such as the Great Yorkshire Show, Roundhay Park and York Minster. To commemorate the occasion, she and Prince Philip both planted a sweet chestnut. Almost a decade later in 1958 – this time as Queen – Elizabeth planted another young tree nearby. 

HM The Queen planting a tree in the showfield at Harewood in 1958. © Johnson Press plc

The Queen’s trees at Harewood, as well as those planted on other occasions by her sister and mother, can today still be seen on site. Like many commemorative trees, they embody memories of particular moments in history, but they also form an enduring symbol of the relationship between Harewood and the royal family. 

 

Framing the Renaissance

Framing the Renaissance

The Harewood House Gallery contains an outstanding collection of Renaissance paintings, many of which are by Venetian artists. These were collected during and after the First World War by Henry George Charles Lascelles, who later became the 6th Earl of Harewood, after he had unexpectedly inherited a great fortune from his great-uncle, the 2nd Marquess of Clanricarde, in 1916. When choosing which pictures to acquire the 6th Earl gave careful consideration to how each work would be displayed in his home. Initially, this was at Chesterfield House in London, and later at Harewood House, where he moved to in 1930 following the death of the 5th Earl of Harewood.

Frames have an enormous impact on the display of pictures, yet they are rarely given much attention. The 6th Earl of Harewood appears to have been a keen and involved interior designer, and he recognised the importance of frames from the early days of his collecting. On 10 June 1917, while he was on military duty in the trenches of the First World War, the 6th Earl wrote to his mother, the 5th Countess of Harewood, about one of his recent purchases:

‘I think the frames very important to make the best of the pictures. The Greco’s frame is wrong and will have to be put right but I have not made up my mind about it.’

When he purchased Allegory by El Greco in 1917 the painting was housed in a gold frame. The 6th Earl later had this replaced with a second-hand antique frame, which is much darker and features gilded foliate corners and centers, in which the picture remains today. The dark frame compliments the dramatic lighting of the picture, and is of a similar style to those produced during El Greco’s lifetime in sixteenth-century Spain. The 6th Earl’s choice of an historical frame demonstrates his interest in the origin of paintings in his collection, and his desire to ensure that each picture was shown to its best.

When antique frames were not available, the 6th Earl occasionally commissioned new frames to be made in an appropriate historical style. This is true of the frame around the picture by Alvise Vivarini and Marco Basaiti, called Madonna and Child with St John the Baptist and St Jerome. When he purchased this picture in 1917 it was housed in a gold frame which was much later in date than the picture itself. The 6th Earl commissioned a new frame in 1931 from the Florentine frame-maker Ferruccio Vannoni, with assistance from his art advisor Dr Tancred Borenius, who had many contacts in the international art world and spoke fluent Italian. Vannoni’s work was highly regarded in Britain, and he was employed by trustees of the National Gallery and by leading art dealers. The design for the frame around the Vivarini and Basaiti is based on a specific early sixteenth-century Venetian model. This type of architectural frame is known as a tabernacle frame, and there are several examples in the Gallery at Harewood. The 6th Earl asked Vannoni to give the frame an ‘antique patina’ so that the fresh gilding did not stand out too brightly next to the older frames in his collection.

 

In 1932 the 6th Earl commissioned a second frame from Vannoni, this time to house his portrait of Benedetto Soranzo by Tintoretto. That painting had previously hung in the Dining Room of Chesterfield House, the 6th Earl’s London home, where it was fixed into an architectural frame above the chimneypiece. When the picture was brought to Harewood House in the early 1930s it therefore did not have its own portable frame, which it would need in order to be displayed. Vannoni was instructed to produce a different sort of frame for this portrait, again ensuring that it was historically accurate to the picture. Vannoni’s invoice describes the commission as being for ‘a frame entirely carved in wood with decoration pierced in relief. Gilded in gold, double thickness toned antique.’ It is interesting to compare the frame around this Tintoretto portrait with the antique (though probably not original) frame around Titian’s Francis I, as the two are presently hung symmetrically either side of the chimneypiece in the Gallery at Harewood House. Titian and Tintoretto were contemporaries both working in Venice during the sixteenth-century, and it is therefore appropriate that these two portraits – which are of different sizes but both approximately square – should be housed in strikingly similar frames.

Though some do appear similar, none of the frames around the Renaissance pictures in the Gallery at Harewood House are identical. The 6th Earl of Harewood displayed his collection in frames which reflected the time and place of each painting’s original creation, and the frames are therefore just as varied – and arguably as interesting and beautiful – as the paintings themselves.

 

Gemma Plumpton, PhD Researcher

Harewood takes part in BBC Art That Made Us Festival

Chris Day in All Saint's Church. Picture Credit Charlotte Graham.

Harewood is taking part in the BBC’s Art That Made Us Festival, which runs throughout April. Museums, libraries, archives and galleries are opening their doors to tell the stories behind their astounding collections. The festival complements the broadcast of a major new BBC documentary series Art That Made Us, which explores Britain’s creative history.

As part of the festival, Harewood has worked with the BBC Rewind team to produce a digital feature which delves into the story behind Under The Influence by Chris Day, a work part of his 2021 Craft Spotlight exhibition at Harewood.

Read the full story below or head to the BBC Art That Made Us website.

Harewood’s collection will also feature in the accompanying documentary series Art That Made Us, as sculptor Thomas J Price visits Harewood House to see the elaborate Robert Adam-designed interiors, Joshua Reynolds portraits and Thomas Chippendale furniture, paid for through fortunes made from the transatlantic slave trade.

The series launches on Thurs 7 April at 9pm, with the whole series available on iPlayer shortly afterwards.

Art That Made Us Festival

Culture really is around every corner in Leeds

Revealed: Culture really is around every corner in Leeds

5 April 2022: Leeds’s cultural venues are uncovering culture like never before as they come together to celebrate the diverse offering of the city and encourage residents and visitors alike to join in with the cultural fun.

Named as the UK’s most vibrant city and placed in the top 100 places to visit in the world, Leeds will see its cultural institutions come together this spring as part of its Culture Around Every Corner campaign.

Home to over 40 cultural institutions representing the very best of culture in the UK, this campaign is led by Visit Leeds in collaboration with Culture Consortium Leeds (CCL) and other organisations such as Art Hostel, East Street Arts, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Chapel FM Arts Centre which together create the unique landscape of Leeds’ cultural scene.

An experience like no other, Leeds is a leading centre for culture, boasting a scene of international food & drink, street art, country house estates, ground-breaking new performances, legendary music festivals and shows and renowned global sport.

Revealing that culture is around every corner in Leeds, the destination management organisation for the city, Visit Leeds and all cultural partners have uncovered that visitors are never further than a 10 minute walk away from a cultural attraction in Leeds.

Highlighting the Leeds experience with the message that culture in Leeds is open, Culture Around Every Corner is challenging residents to explore and rekindle a love for the great culture that is on their doorstep, whilst visitors have an immense opportunity to try something new and uniquely ‘Leeds’.

Edward Appleyard, Director of Engagement at Harewood House Trust and Co-Chair of CCL’s Marketing and Communications group, commented:  “As a city that’s in demand, Culture Around Every Corner has been designed to bring the cultural venues of our city together and show visitors the breadth of cultural experiences there are to enjoy. We’re extremely excited for the launch and our venues working more closely than ever before to celebrate this incredible, culture-rich city.”

Hannah Hughes, Marketing and Communications Director at Leeds Playhouse and Co-Chair of CCL’s Marketing and Communications group also commented: “We’re delighted to be working with a variety of our cultural venues in the city and we can’t wait to reveal what Leeds has to offer as part of this campaign. There’s a real appetite for venues to work in collaboration with one another and support each other and this demonstrates how fantastic the Leeds cultural community is.”

 

This campaign comes on the back of two years of lockdowns, and the message is loud and clear – culture in Leeds is back for good.

Some of the cultural highlights for this season (April to June) include: The riotous Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Leeds Playhouse, directed by Jamie Fletcher and starring drag queen Davina De Campo in April; a solo exhibition of new work by Nigerian artist Bubu Ogisi at The Tetley; the Henry Moore Institute celebrates the UN Year of Glass with an exhibition of contemporary glass sculpture; Leeds Museums and Galleries host workshops, trails and activities alongside exhibitions including ‘Eileen Agar: Angel of Anarchy’; Opera North’s version of Wagner’s most mysterious drama Parsifal opens in June; Howard Assembly Rooms present the best in eclectic and international music every weekend and host musicians and singers from the asylum community for Refugee Week in June; Leeds Grand Theatre’s stellar line-up sees Broadway hit School of Rock, the National Theatre’s award-winning The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, plus a bit of razzle dazzle in Chicago

Outside the city centre Harewood House Biennial this year is Radical Acts: Why Craft Matters, an exhibition showcasing how small radical acts can have a massive impact on the world and Yorkshire Sculpture Park present David Nash: Full Circle until June.

And if you are looking for activities to entertain the family you can try: Family favourite The Gruffalo at Leeds Playhouse in April; Royal Armouries’ jousting tournaments and Medieval Easter with the chance to try some sword skills; Leeds Young Film Festival 2022 at the Carriageworks combining games with film screenings; explore dark and murky disease ridden streets, and ask ‘Can Robots Care?’ at the sometimes gruesome but always fascinating Thackray Museum of Medicine; and at the first direct Arena, The Masked Singer comes to the live stage plus a host of full-pelt live music and more.

Culture Around Every Corner precedes Leeds’ Year of Culture: Leeds 2023. Designed to ‘let culture loose’, Leeds 2023 will see 12 signature events alongside a multitude of creative experiences take place across the city in a celebration of all things culture. Made for everyone, local, national, and international artists and communities will be coming together to create a year-long celebration unique to Leeds. Gearing up to the Year of Culture, the Culture Around Every Corner campaign is just the start of what’s to come.

To find more about Culture Around Every Corner and to plan your next trip, visit www.visitleeds.co.uk/culture-around-every-corner

 

ENDS

For more information, please contact VisitLeeds@ilkagency.com

Notes to Editors:

Visit Leeds is the official Destination Management Organisation for the city of Leeds, which aims to showcase the breadth of cultural attractions, innovative food & drink destinations and extensive shopping facilities on offer in Leeds and its surrounding areas. Its vision is for the city to be known as a world-class, modern and historic European destination with a reputation for a vibrant and creative cultural scene set against the backdrop of rich heritage and outstanding architecture.

As the second largest metropolitan area and one of the fastest growing cities in the UK outside of London, Leeds attracted over 30 million visitors in 2019 from both the UK and abroad. Its location and exceptional national and international transport links make it the ideal getaway for a variety of visitors to the Yorkshire region and beyond.

Not only is Leeds one of the greenest cities in Europe, it also ranks as the third best shopping destination in the UK outside of London as breath-taking Victorian arcades sit alongside iconic luxury brands and well-known high street retailers.

Leeds is brimming with a wealth of culture, history and diversity, having been home to the UK’s first West Indian Carnival back in 1967. The city’s rich culture is also reflected in the plethora of live events. From world-class organisations; Opera North, Northern Ballet, to unrivalled live music experiences and hilarious comedy, Leeds truly is a treasure trove of live entertainment.

Leeds is also notably known as a world-class sporting destination, having hosted the World Triathlon Series, The Cricket World Cup and The Ashes, while this year will see the city host the World Triathlon Series, Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the British Transplant Games. Leeds is also home to Leeds United Football Club, Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and Rugby League’s Leeds Rhinos.

Over the past 15 years, regeneration has modernised the city centre, while complementing its incredible architecture and heritage. The city is now synonymous with the very best England has to offer; bursting with life and cultural energy.

 

For more information, visit: www.visitleeds.co.uk     

 

Culture Consortium Leeds 

Established to network Leeds’ greatest cultural offerings together with a shared ambition and a passion for the city, Culture Consortium Leeds includes 17 venues, theatres, visitor attractions, museums, galleries, performance arts organisations and others who harness the power of great culture in Leeds to entertain and engage over 4 million people every year and generate £135 million for the local economy. 

Members included in Culture Around Every Corner are: Harewood House Trust, Royal Armouries, Leeds Playhouse, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Leeds Museums & Galleries, Temple Newsham, Lotherton Hall, Leeds Heritage Theatres, The Tetley, The Carriageworks, Millennium Square, Leeds Town Hall, University of Leeds Galleries, Opera North, Northern Ballet, Henry Moore Institute and Thackray Museum of Medicine.

 

Harewood Stands with Ukraine

Support Ukraine in our Bookshop

By donating or purchasing a book in our volunteer run second-hand bookshop, from now until the end of April, you will be directly helping those in need of help, food, asylum, shelter and care, who have been displaced or harmed by the war in Ukraine. Throughout April, all bookshop takings will be donated to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. Ukraine’s flag will also fly proudly over Harewood House during this time. Help us make a difference to all of those living through this atrocious conflict.

Harewood’s bookshop contributes around £20,000 a year to Harewood House Trust – the charity charged with looking after this wonderful place, conserving it for the future and with opening it up to as many people as possible.

As somewhere built on the profits of atrocities in the past – the original wealth used to build this House created through the Transatlantic slave trade – Harewood continues, today, to lift-up marginalised voices; to promote equality, diversity, inclusion and fairness for all.
Through our programme and our actions, we have the capacity to tell human stories, stir emotions and navigate complex situations, to inspire empathy and support.

Thank you for supporting Harewood House Trust, and for supporting those in need in Ukraine.

 

Harewood House Trust registered charity in England no 517753
Disasters Emergency Committee registered charity in England no 1062638