+44 (0)113 218 1010

[javascript protected email address]


Harewood Statement – A Harewood for the next generation

– Harewood announces closure of Bird Garden
– A woodland garden will take its place, bringing historic walks back into existence
– Trust looks to its long-term future, with a focus on programming, its audience
and the environment.

In 2021, Harewood quietly marked 250 years since the completion of Harewood House being built. This stunning Palladian home, built by John Carr of York with interiors by Robert Adam, and landscapes by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, has seen incredible changes during its lifetime. Since 1986 the care of Harewood has been entrusted to a charity, Harewood House Trust, with a board of Trustees and an administration tasked with ensuring its long-term future and providing a place for the public benefit.

The last few years have been especially difficult, particularly in light of Covid-19, and as we enter 2023 we are all acutely aware of the financial pressures that we face.

Harewood is not immune to these difficulties and in spite of having a record-breaking year with visitor numbers, the Charity remains reliant on the support of the Lascelles family, its Members and visitors, Arts Council England and others in order to offer a great experience whilst balancing conservation needs of the site, with ever greater pressure on our resources.

As the Trust looks to its long-term future it has to consider what Harewood will look like in 5, 10, 25 years’ time from now and beyond, to ensure we stay relevant and able to remain open for everyone to enjoy.

Harewood’s Bird Garden is now over 50 years old and, as visitors have pointed out to us consistently over the past few years, the birds’ environment is not on a par with more up-to-date zoos. At Harewood’s last zoo inspection, the team were praised for their excellent care and the health of the birds, but sadly they identified many problems with the site’s physical infrastructure that the charity cannot sustain.

Over the last six months we have been researching options for the charity going forwards, however, with a need for a £4 million investment to just the Bird Garden alone, the Trust has had to make the incredibly difficult decision to close this part of the Harewood experience. The Trust simply cannot make the Bird Garden the place that we, and you, all want it to be.

Over the next six months or so, the birds – many of which are exotic or endangered – will be re-homed at places better equipped long-term to ensure they continue to have comfortable and enriched lives and to ensure their life-long care. The closure date of the Bird Garden will be published later in the year once these dates become clear.

In its place, we will create a new woodland garden, making it an environment where native wildlife can thrive. You will be able to observe woodland and water birds, red kites, otters and more. It also provides us with an opportunity to recreate some historic walks, part of which is expanding the South Park walk that opened in 2021.

Harewood’s Farm Experience will remain but we will look at the opportunities to improve the area surrounding Harewood’s Courtyard to provide a better visitor experience and open up some incredibly beautiful views of the site.
We realise that many of Harewood’s visitors love the Bird Garden and have children who love it too. It has been an incredibly difficult conclusion to reach but it is the most responsible and ethical decision to make, to ensure the health and care of these beautiful creatures, but also to ensure Harewood can stand the test of time and be here for as long as it has stood already.

Emily Shard, chair of Harewood House Trust, comments:

‘It is with huge sadness that the Trustees have reached the conclusion that the Bird Garden must close. Harewood and the Lascelles family have long been committed to the care and conservation of wildlife and nature, but the wellbeing of the birds is paramount. The investment needed to create a modern zoo and maintain this each year is too much for the Trust to afford.

We therefore realise that we must make this change and focus on the long-term ambition of this wonderful place, and on the opportunities that Harewood has to support our environment, represent the people and the communities that live in this area today, and to continue to develop Harewood, to serve its best purpose into the future.’

Harewood’s winter season begins once again this weekend when we will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until our full all-week opening from Friday 17 March. We will also be open throughout Leeds half term week, Monday 13 to Sunday 19 February.

We will be announcing 2023’s programme of exhibitions and activities in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, thank you to all our Members, visitors, volunteers and supporters for your continued support and your understanding.
Harewood looks forward to welcoming you throughout the next year and beyond, and will continue to update visitors as the Birds go to new homes.

Stories of Harewood: Princess Mary

Princess Mary, 1914. This portrait of Princess Mary was included in every Christmas Gift Box sent to troops fighting for Britain in 1914.

We are happy to share that Harewood is introducing a brand-new tour exclusively for groups!

This tour will delve into Harewood’s royal connection through the story of HRH Princess Mary.  Learn about the fascinating life of the Princess, while you explore our magnificent State Floor.

Who was Princess Mary?

Princess Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary of York was born on the 25th of April 1897 at York Cottage located on the Royal Estate of Sandringham.

Princess Mary was the only daughter of six children born to the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George V and Queen Mary.

As part of her royal duties, Princess Mary was affiliated with many organisations throughout her life, including the Girl Guides and Great Ormond Street. She also held several honorary military positions, including Commandant-in-Chief of the Royal Scots and British Red Cross Detachments. During the Second World War, Princess Mary served with the British Army from 1941 as Controller- Commandant of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (later the Women’s Royal Army Corps).

Princess Mary and Harewood

Buckingham Palace announced the engagement of Princess Mary and Henry, Viscount Lascelles, eldest son of the 5th Earl of Harewood in November 1921, with The Royal wedding taking place on the 28th of February 1922.

Princess Mary and the 6th Earl moved into Harewood in 1930 and made a number of modernisations and improvements to both the House and Estate. Princess Mary lived at Harewood for more than 30 years.

Mary is still known today as ‘The Yorkshire Princess’.

Group visits to Harewood

Groups of 12 or more benefit from our reduced group rates. Groups also benefit from one free admission for the group organiser and coach driver.

Explore the marital home of ‘The Yorkshire Princess’ with one of our expert guides.

Find out more about our Guided Tours and Group Visits


Our friendly group bookings team can be reached at 0113 218 1000 or via email groups@harewood.org

Counting down to Christmas with Lights4fun

This festive season, the facade of the House has been transformed into a magical, illuminated advent calendar with the help of our Christmas supporter Lights4fun. As we count down to Christmas, we take a look back at how the advent calendar was created.

‘We’ve dreamed of turning the façade of the House into an advent calendar for years, as it very conveniently has 24 windows and we’re delighted to have been able to create this beautiful advent calendar this year with the generous support from Lights4fun’ says Zoë Hughes, Artistic Producer at Harewood House Trust.

The journey began with a team of dedicated Harewood volunteers adding baubles to the Lights4fun garlands – there were over 100 to decorate and the overflow café area was soon overflowing with decorated garlands!

Once decorated, it was time to hand over to our facilities team, who created special frames which needed to be strong enough to withstand the Yorkshire winter, without damaging the historic house.

Of the construction process, Operations Manager Richard Smith comments:

“When initially asked by our creative team to look at carrying out the install, I wasn’t sure it could be done due to the historic nature of the building and its grade 1 listed status. However, after discussing with my team and the contractors responsible for the install, we were able to come up with a design for the frames and a system to fix them in place that would allow them to be installed safely and securely whilst also being non-invasive. The garlands supplied by Lights4fun were extremely easy to use and incredibly effective when lit up, which makes the front of the house look amazing and a real focal point for visitors”


A close up of the frame – the frames sat very carefully within the windows to not damage the House

Each window is lit up by a spotlight








Once all 24 frames and garlands installed, it was time to add all the numbers in and a big light switch on and Harewood is delighted to finally see the advent calendar brought to life. Seeing the beautiful lit garlands and giant gold numbers has been an incredible moment, seeing the team’s creative designs become a reality.

Photo credit Oliver Perrott


Harewood’s Festive Season
Sat 12 Nov–Mon 2 Jan
Tickets available at harewood.org

Our sparkling Christmas supporter
Christmas at Harewood is generously supported by Harrogate-based Lights4fun, bringing even more sparkle to the twinkling grounds throughout the festive season.

Happy 26th Birthday Mr Otto!

We are celebrating a very happy birthday this week at Harewood. 

Mr Otto is one of our Humboldt Penguins and can be found splashing about in the Penguin Pool located within Harewood’s Bird Garden.

Today he turns 26 years old, which is a fantastic age for a Humboldt penguin. Congratulations Mr Otto!

Like the other male penguins in our enclosure, he can be spotted wearing a coloured tag on his right wing. Each penguin has a red, yellow, blue, green or black coloured tag. These tags are located on the left wing for a female and on the right wing for a male. When next visiting the site please do make sure to pop down by the Penguin Pool and see if you can spot him.

Natural Habitat

Humboldt penguins originate from the coastal Peru and Chile. They face many threats in the wild such as the destruction of their habitats, fishing and hunting. The penguin enclosure here at Harewood was specifically designed to replicate the coastline of Peru in South America. The swimming pools are different depths and areas, with a rocky slope leading to a plateau.

Eating Habits 

When in the wild Humboldt penguins would feed on anchovies, squid and sardines as these can be found off the West coast of Peru, our penguins here at Harewood are fed whitebait and sprats, which are very similar in size.

Want to see Mr Otto in person?

Why not join us and meet our famous Humboldt Penguins while exploring Harewood’s Bird Garden.

While on site you can enjoy our penguin talks everyday and there is even the opportunity to get up close and feed these wonderful creatures with one of our Penguin Feeding Experiences.

Visiting as a school?

As part of our educational programme, pupils will be offered an unforgettable learning experience as they get outside the classroom and explore the Harewood Bird Garden in a session designed to stimulate a curiosity for the natural world. Our Learning Team have been hard at work redeveloping this beloved educational session and we hope to see you in 2023.

Meet the Penguins session >>

Meet the Birds session >>

Harewood House … in gingerbread form

Currently situated centre stage in the Old Kitchen is a most beautiful Gingerbread Harewood House, made and iced by one of our Garden Volunteers Klara. For this blog, we sit down with Klara and ask her about volunteering at Harewood and how her interest in gingerbread began.

When did you make and ice your first gingerbread?
I grew up in Hungary. Since I was a child, making gingerbread has been a part of my life. It is a Christmas tradition in our country to make and decorate gingerbread cookies, we call “mézeskalacs”.

How did you learn your craft?
At first, I learned my craft from my mother. Later, I developed my own style and various recipes, including gluten free, diary free and vegan. Over the years I adjusted my collections to meet the country-specific trend where I had been living. However, I have never lost my own style that makes my work unique and recognizable. I have a quality-oriented mindset, that comes from my background as a chemical engineer working in quality management and also as a certificated botanical artist.

How did you hear about volunteering at Harewood ?
I moved to Yorkshire in 2021 and I was looking for a volunteer gardening opportunity and I saw an advertisement for a Volunteer Open Afternoon in the Walled Garden when I first visited Harewood.

What is it you enjoy most about volunteering with the garden team?

The Garden team (staff and volunteers) are all very friendly and welcoming. We learn so much from the professional gardeners.

We work in a very warm environment, in beautiful surroundings, where everyone is very enthusiastic about our work and at the end of the day, when we see the results of our efforts, we feel very proud.

How did you start to make the Harewood gingerbread House ?
I researched the floorplan, took many photos and then simplified the House, retaining its main characteristics. In total, it took about 2 weeks to complete the project.

What icing do you find most satisfying or do you enjoy doing most?
I like the simple traditional designs, but my favourite is creating gingerbreads where I can use my own imagination and design. It is most satisfying when I see the magic of a plain gingerbread transformed through my icing. I especially like doing 3D creations such as houses, Easter eggs, boxes, etc.

What would you like to do in the future?
I hope that I will have more opportunities in the UK to introduce my gingerbread artwork to more people and share my love of this beautiful craft.


Klara’s Gingerbread on Facebook