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Tree Story

Autumn landscape at Harewood created by Capability Brown

As the dark nights draw in and the leaves begin to change, views across Harewood’s landscape become a vivid autumn spectacle. The red, orange and yellow leaves provide a vibrant display throughout October and November.

With 850 acres of managed woodland, there are hundreds of trees under Harewood’s care. From the creation of the “Capability” Brown parkland to modern events like the Tour de France, these trees have presided over much of Harewood’s history. Here are a few trees for you to look out for on your next visit.

  • The Tallest Grand Fir in Yorkshire:
    Harewood is home to Yorkshire’s tallest Grand Fir growing in the Lakeside Gardens (SE of the Cascade beside the path towards the Walled Garden). This tree was last measured at 36m tall or 118ft!
  • Our Oldest Trees:
    Exactly which is the oldest tree on the Estate is difficult to say. What we do know, is that along the Lakeside Path, two, beautiful, native trees reside which were planted around the same time as the “Capability” Brown parkland was design in the late 18th century. The striking Beech and Oak trees can be found just before the Walled Garden and are at least 250 years old.
  • Fairy Tree: Did you know Harewood has a magical tree which is home to a family of fairies? The grand old Oak stands proudly on the water’s edge of the Lake. If children walk up really quietly, they might just see a fairy busy tidying their house!
  • Head Gardener’s One to Watch:
    Choosing just one tree for you to look out for was no easy task for our Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson. After some persuasion, it was decided that the Black Walnut tree, which sits alongside the Ice Cream Kiosk, is the one for you to find. As autumn flourishes, the leaves on this beautiful tree become a striking gold which you simply cannot miss!

We hope you can join us to see this wonderful, autumnal display. Enjoy the crisp air, warm sunshine and crunchy leaves as you explore everything autumn has to offer at Harewood.

Garden Tips from Harewood

Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson, in the Walled Garden at Harewood

Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson with fresh produce grown in the Walled Garden

September is a busy month in the gardens. From harvesting and weeding to spring planting, there’s plenty to be getting on with! Here are a few helpful tips from our Gardens Team to help you on your way.

De-seed perennial weeds:
To help stop the spread of perennial weeds, it’s a good idea to remove the seed heads in September.

Apply mulch after rain:
With so much to do, it’s a good idea to apply mulch to your beds after a heavy rain shower. It keeps the moisture in and give you a little more time to think about next year’s planting.

Harvesting vegetable crops:
For allotments owners and veg growers now is a wonderful time of year. All that hard work has paid off and you can enjoy the fruits, potatoes and onions of your labour.

Order your spring bulbs:
Now is the time to get ready for spring. Get your bulbs ordered and plan for the new year ahead. A good tip is to plant bulbs which flower in different months to give a succession of bright flowers as the seasons change. Don’t forget that September is the best time to plant Bluebells. Get them in early to ensure a full bloom next year.

At Harewood the Terrace, Archery Border and Walled Garden are at their best. Make sure you come along and enjoy them before the end of the season.

Search Harewood’s Servants’ Database

Black and white photo of men on the roof of Harewood House in the early 1900s

Men on roof of Harewood House. Centre front is Joe Pattison. Joe was from Newcastle and worked for a Newcastle firm on the electrics in the house in 1929. The workers lived in huts in the park whilst the work was done.

Records for over 1000 people who were once employed at Harewood House can now be researched online at servants.harewood.org. The site, which is free to use, is a resource for history enthusiasts, school groups, local people and anyone interested in knowing more about the staff who ran Harewood House. The digitised database, which stretches between 1749 and 1980, includes fascinating insights into the people who kept Harewood House operational.

Where information exists, records of past staff include dates of employment, lists of job roles held, salaries, images and any notes which may have been gathered. Visitors to the website can search through professions including Butlers, Housekeepers, Farm Workers and Lady’s Maids. More unusual roles which can be found include Oddman, Postillions and even a Rabbit Catcher.

Harewood has many stories, many histories. This database gives access to the lives of the wide range of people who have lived and worked here – it’s fascinating stuff, chronicling the changing face of Harewood from generation to generation through personal memories and reminiscences.” Said David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood.

Research has been carried out within Harewood’s archives and from collated information submitted by members of the public.

We’re thrilled to see the Servants’ Database online. It’s taken several years to pull the information together and we look forward to seeing it grow in the future. ” Said Anna Dewsnap, Head of Collections.

The database also enables users to share records via social media, submit updates and include their own information should they wish to.

To celebrate the launch of the Servants’ Database, Harewood is holding Summer Discovery Days throughout August Bank Holiday. The event, which runs between Saturday 29th August and Monday 31st August, explores the quirky histories behind Harewood House. Visitors will be able to speak to Harewood’s House Stewards about the Servants’ Database, meet Harewood’s first Housekeeper Elizabeth Burrows, and draw like Turner on the North Front.

The Top Ten Birds Benefitting from Zoos and Aquariums

Bali Starling's at Harewood House in Yorkshire

With blue skin, these are an unusual bird available to view in the Bird Garden

A penguin that brays like a donkey, a vulture that can reach heights of over 20,000 feet and a parrot that is one of the best mimics of the human voice. These are just three of the species staving off extinction thanks to the help of zoos and aquariums.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) has compiled a report detailing the top ten birds most reliant on zoos and aquariums for their survival.

The African penguin, the Ecuador Amazon parrot and the Oriental white-backed vulture have all made it on to the list, which highlights some of the best examples of how zoos and aquariums are safeguarding the future of our planet’s wildlife and their habitats.

Dr Andrew Marshall, of BIAZA’s Field Programmes Committee, coordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA collections. He commented:

“More than one in ten species of bird is globally threatened; and the work zoos and aquariums do in protecting these wonderful animals is integral to the survival of many bird species.

“Zoo conservation work includes research, education, management of habitats and protected areas, improving human livelihoods in developing countries, breeding, reintroduction, environmental sustainability, and engagement with policymakers.

“As we continue to produce these lists, it is becoming more and more evident that the world’s zoos and aquariums are an essential source of funds and expertise for conservation of the natural world.”

The top ten list demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to funding and management of conservation projects in the field, including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.

Strict criteria were used to select the top ten. All the birds proposed had to be associated with current field initiatives by zoos and/or essential conservation breeding in zoos. Particular importance was given to initiatives which included a management role in the species’ conservation, rather than just providing funds.  Priority was also given to species listed as threatened on the international IUCN Red List of threatened species.

BIAZA’s top ten birds benefitting from zoos and aquariums are:

African penguin: Numbers are plummeting in the wild due to oil spills, overfishing, shifts in food availability and human disturbance.

Bali starling: These are seen as very desirable cage birds, and illegal trapping has brought them to virtual extinction in the wild.

Blue-crowned laughing thrush: The zoo population of this Chinese bird equates to 50% of the total global population.

Ecuador Amazon parrot: With fewer than 600 individuals left, its survival relies on the protection of remaining wild populations and their habitats.

Edwards’s pheasant: There is a small captive population, but it has never been seen or studied by a scientist in the wild.

Madagascar pochard: Just 20-25 Madagascar pochard now survive in the wild.

Northern bald ibis: Pesticide poisoning has had a devastating effect on their numbers but BIAZA members have contributed birds to a successful release programme and populations are slowly increasing.

Oriental white-backed Vulture: Traces of a toxic veterinary drug in farm animal carcases across Asia has decimated populations, but species restoration has been made possible by zoo-based expertise and funding.

Socorro dove: A classic island species, numbers have been devastated by man-introduced pests like rats, cats and goats. Captive breeding has saved it from total extinction.

Visayan tarictic hornbill: Two BIAZA zoos are actively supporting in-situ work to save and restore the wild habitat of this species.

(This list is in alphabetical order)

BIAZA logo

The Life of Lady Worsley

Lady Worsley broke all the rules of polite society. The Scandalous Lady W, starring Natalie Dormer, recently told the colourful tale of the 18th century’s most public, tabloid worthy relationship in a BBC drama.

Harewood House has Joshua Reynolds paintings on display

A detailed view of Lady Worsley’s portrait

A beautiful and wealthy heiress, Seymour Dorothy Fleming was one of England’s most eligible bachelorettes. On the 20th September 1775, at the age of 17, she married Sir Richard Worsley. Now known as Lady Worsley, Seymour brought £52,000 to the union which is the equivalent of over £6 million in today’s money.

Lady Worsley was a spirited and independent young woman. She wasn’t afraid to say what she thought and do what she wanted, something that at the time, was not expected of a woman. Wives were expected to do their husband’s bidding and were seen as property in the same way as cattle or land.

In November 1781, Lady Worsley eloped with Captain George Bissett, a friend of her husbands, leaving her 4 month old baby behind. This act of defiance prompted Sir Richard to bring a criminal conversation case (adultery, with one of his officers) for £20,000 against Bissett. Lady Worsley made the courageous decision to support Bissett, publicly humiliating herself and her position in society.

Testimony was provided by a number of Lady Worsley’s 27 lovers and her doctor, William Osborn. He testified that she had suffered from a venereal disease which she had contracted from the Marquess of Graham. This acted as evidence that Bissett had not been alone in committing adultery with Lady Worsley.

Although Sir Richard looked to have a strong case, it was undone by a final piece of evidence. Rather than suppressing their relationship, it was later proven that Sir Richard had displayed his wife naked to George Bissett at the bathhouse in Maidstone encouraging the affair. This evidence destroyed Sir Richard’s suit and the jury awarded him only 1 shilling in damages.

It’s hard to imagine what determination she must of had to leave her husband during that time period. The scandal would be shocking by today’s standards never mind in polite Georgian society! It could be argued that Lady Worsley showed great resolve in the way she approached the case. It was a brave  move to present her romantic encounters so bluntly in defense of Captain Bissett.

Today, the famous Joshua Reynolds painting of Lady Wolsey hangs in the Cinnamon Drawing Room of Harewood House. The portrait depicts the young Lady Worsley in the milita uniform of her husband.

How is Lady Worsley related to the Lascelles family?

Seymour Dorothy Fleming was the younger daughter of Sir John Fleming of Brompton Park and his wife, Lady Jane Coleman. Her father and two of her sisters died when she was just 5 years old and she and her elder sister, Jane Harrington, were raised by their mother. Her mother remarried in 1770 to Edwin Lascelles, 1st Lord Harewood making Lady Worsley the step-daughter of Edwin.

What can I see at Harewood about Lady Worsley?

Harewood House was linked to Lady Worsley

As well as the famous painting, we are showing letters written to “Mr Hewitt” which relay the scandalous exploits of Lady Worlsey and her two companions during a Christmas meeting at Harewood in 1778. The account explains how “Lady Worsley and two Miss Cramers threw most of the gentlemen’s clothes out of the window, particularly their breeches, thinking them I suppose unnecessary.

Can I see the painting?

Yes, visitors to Harewood House can explore the House, grounds and see the painting in the Cinnamon Drawing Room. Call 0113 218 1000 or go to our Visit page for details.