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Harewood Welcomes New Baby Donkey into the Fold

Baby donkey born at Harewood House in Yorkshire

Lady, Harewood’s female donkey, gave birth unaided last night to a new foal. The latest arrival is Lady’s first baby and both mum and baby are doing well.

The gestation period for donkeys is twelve months so when Lady arrived at Harewood in August 2016 she was already pregnant.

Nick Dowling, Bird Garden and Farm Experience Manager said: “We began to notice that Lady was widening a few months ago. At first we considered she may be gaining weight however it soon became evident that she was pregnant – much to our surprise!”

“We’re really pleased to have this latest addition in the Farm. Lady is doing all the right things and is showing signs of being a fantastic mother.”

“At the moment we are leaving mum and baby to bond. We suspect that the new baby is female although this is yet to be officially established. Once we confirm the sex, we will name the latest arrival.”

At birth, foals usually weigh between 19 and 30 lbs. (8.6 to 13.6 kg) and can stand and nurse after just 30 minutes. Harewood keepers are keeping a close eye on the new baby ensuring both Lady and the new addition are getting the best care around the clock.

Jane Marriott, Director of Harewood House Trust said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the new arrival to the Farm. Harewood House Trust relies on visitors and our members to support the work of the charity. We hope our latest addition will be a positive new attraction this summer.”

Visitors to Harewood will be able to see the newborn in the Farm this weekend.

Harewood Launches New Frank Walter Exhibition

Visit Harewood House in Yorkshire to see Frank Walter exhibition

Harewood House Trust is delighted to exhibit 63 paintings by the Caribbean artist Frank Walter (1926-2009). These works have never been seen together in England before.  The majority are landscapes, including many of trees purposely selected to resonate with Harewood’s Capability Brown landscape. Apparently simple, they beautifully depict real and imaginary vistas which speak with an unmistakable visionary voice.

Frank Walter (Francis Archibald Wentworth Walter), self-styled 7th Prince of the West Indies, Lord of Follies and the Ding-a-Ding Nook, was born in Antigua in 1926. Walter was hugely talented as an artist and writer, although somewhat flawed by an obsession with his ancestral lineage which he believed linked him with the aristocratic families of Europe including Charles II (through his mistress Lucy Walter), Franz Joseph of Austria and the Dukes of Buccleuch.

His fragile mental state became more apparent and for the last 25 years of his life, Walter removed himself from society, living in an isolated shack on an Antiguan hillside, painting on all sorts of material including discarded Polaroid boxes and LP covers.

His rich legacy includes several hundred paintings and carvings, as well as 25,000 pages of his thoughts on every conceivable subject including history, philosophy, religion and science.

In 1958, he travelled to Leeds (probably Chapeltown from the description) working in poorly paid part-time jobs – feather packer, a lamp manufacturer, boot factory, floor sweeper. He was pretty much starving, which may account for some of his almost hallucinatory writing. He was researching his real and imaginary genealogy in Leeds central Library.

In 1960, he went to Scotland which had a great effect on him as he felt so strongly connected to the country through his family legacy.

Flamboyant Trees has been made possible with support from the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh who have championed the artist’s work in the UK and internationally. Richard Ingleby, Director of the Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh said:

“It is terrific to see this exhibition of Frank Walter’s paintings at Harewood House and I suspect that the delusions of grandeur from which he suffered would have encouraged him to see it as an appropriate setting. The view out across fields from the Terrace at Harewood seems especially fitting for an exhibition that includes so many of Walter’s paintings of trees, some of which were inspired by the time that he spent in Yorkshire and Scotland in the 1950s, before returning to the Caribbean and a life of self imposed isolation. These gloriously fresh and directly painted landscapes have an anthropomorphic quality – as if he were painting his friends, or recording a kind of companionship still offered by trees when people had long since let him down.”

Nicola Stephenson, Exhibitions and Projects Producer at Harewood House Trust said:

“Harewood is particularly delighted to exhibit a selection of paintings by Frank Walter this summer when Leeds is also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Leeds Carnival and the contribution of the Caribbean community to our wider cultural life. Walter was a complex man – an artist, a writer and philosopher; since his death in 2009 there has been a growing recognition of his work.”


Frank Walter’s work is now highly sought after by collectors and this year, marks Antigua and Barbuda’s inaugural representation at the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia with an exhibition of Walter’s paintings, sculpture, audio recordings and writing.

Read more about the exhibition here.

How the Victorian era influenced Harewood Bird Garden

Harewood House in Yorkshire has a bird garden and farm

This year, Harewood House and grounds are taking a closer look at the Victorian era inspired by ITV’s period drama Victoria, which used Harewood as a major location. Although when the young Princess Victoria visited Harewood in 1835, the Bird Garden had not yet been built, (opening some 135 years later!), the era still had a major influence on the zoo you can see today.

It was during this period that animal collections and scientific study of the natural world began to develop. Zoological collections in Britain were beginning to evolve with menageries of species kept for display and travelling circuses full of dangerous and exotic animals becoming more common place.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was founded in 1826, shortly before Victoria’s coronation (1837 – 1901). As a leader in the field, ZSL’s aim was to promote the study of animals and their ecology, an ambition which remains at the heart of zoological collections today. London Zoo officially opened its gates to the public in 1828, giving people the opportunity see animals from across the world and learn more about exotic species.

The Victorians were pioneering in promoting research, discovery and conservation of the natural world and organisations founded at the time are still of great importance and relevance today. In the later part of Victoria’s reign, the Plumage League was founded (1889) by Emily Williamson, to combat the killing of birds to use their feathers as fashion accessories. She later joined forces with the Fur and Feather League (1891) to create the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), now a leading light in avian conservation across the world.

The era saw unparalleled developments in our understanding of the natural world with great naturalists such as Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace making discoveries that would fundamentally change how we perceive the world around us.

Since 1970, the Bird Garden at Harewood has promoted an understanding of birds and their environment through conservation, preservation and education, very much as the pioneering zoologists of the Victorian times had done. Today, we host a number of research projects each year with students coming from Askham Bryan College, Leeds Beckett University and University of Leeds among others. Studies on the Chilean flamingos, Humboldt penguins and our wide range of pheasants are either published in journals, ongoing, or in the process of being completed. These projects are all focussed towards improving the husbandry and welfare of the animals in our care. We often receive correspondence from other universities and zoos asking us to assist with projects, the results of which could be put towards the protection of birds and their natural habitats.

Visit the zoo at Harewood House in Yorkshire to see rare birds

We recently welcomed a pair of Omei Shan Liocichla, a small Chinese songbird, to the Bird Garden. This species is listed being vulnerable to extinction in their native habitat and have been incorporated into a European Studbook which will help their ongoing survival.

With this addition, Harewood Bird Garden now partakes in 12 coordinated breeding programmes and species monitors, with 16 of the species kept in the Bird Garden classified as threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species. These can be seen living with another Chinese species, the silver pheasant in the aviaries below the crane paddocks.

Go to the zoo at Harewood House in Leeds to see rare birds

In the neighbouring aviary we have two new red billed blue magpies from Nepal. These are striking blue birds with long striped tails. They have settled in very well and are currently nesting, with two eggs as I write this.

Visit Harewood House near Harrogate to see palm cockatoos

Another of our European Breeding Programme species is the palm cockatoos. These charismatic black birds with their bright pink cheeks have laid an egg again this year, the third year in succession making them the one of only two breeding pairs in the UK. The last two eggs have been successfully reared and we hope for a repeated performance again this year from our confident young family.

For those of you who want to know more about the Bird Garden and to support our ongoing conservation work, there are great opportunities you can access. From Bird Adoption to penguin feeding or our brand new Junior Keeper Experience launched this season, your support helps us to continue our charitable work, maintain and developing Harewood for the public benefit.


Thank you.

Notes for an Axminster Carpet by Rommi Smith

See Axminster carpets at Harewood in Yorkshire

A poem for Harewood’s Axminster carpets

The acclaimed poet Rommi Smith has written a new poem in response to Harewood House Trust’s on-going reassessment of its historic Axminster carpets and as part of a partnership with Leeds University’s Yorkshire Year of the Textile programme.

These unique carpets have survived since the late 18th century and were specifically commissioned for the Music Room and Yellow Drawing Room –  both designed by the architect Robert Adam. They are very rare examples of carpets still shown in the original rooms that they were designed to compliment.

Rommi Smith wrote the poem Notes for an Axminster Carpet and performed it here on the 20th May 2017 accompanied by the composer and musician Jenni Molloy.

The poem is composed of a short series of imagined notes as if written by Robert Adam, to Thomas Whitty, proprietor of the Axminster Factory, Devon, where the carpets originated from.

The poems make reference to classical motifs that can be seen in the rooms for which the carpets were specially created and to historical notes written about the carpets and their rooms.

These poem-notes, could be considered directorial, almost theatrical, notes from Adam to Whitty. The poem, in homage to the carpets, is also site-specific, therefore, each section of the poem should, ideally, be read in the location for which it was written and intended to be performed.

Notes for an Axminster Carpet
By Rommi Smith

 ‘I was surprised to find such a little paltry place the origin of so much magnificence. The manufactory is all the property of one man. The work is chiefly done by women […] They were then employed in weaving a large carpet for Lord Harewood, late Mr Lascelles, which was to cost one hundred and forty pounds.’ – Reverend ED Clarke on his visit to the Axminster factory, 1791.

‘I […] had engaged myself for tomorrow […]’ Robert Adam, London: June, 7, 1788.

Note 1: Hallway

Mr. Thomas Whitty, Proprietor

Axminster Factory

Silver Street




Dear Sir,

please accept –

these notes for an Axminster carpet.

I send them, accompanied by these drawings,

not so much directions, but as artefacts of longing:

what we make of the moment

we leave for the pleasure of tomorrow.


Envisage (if you will), a hall

beyond the grounds that time will anoint

with Capability’s hands,

where a man might stand

as though he were the first at all;


my namesake; a song of alabaster:

earth-footed, yet jubilant face in heavenward devotion

to the firmament scored with stars on staves of Hallelujah.


This, then, Sir is the music, this is the pitch

from which this first note for the design emerges.


Note II: The Terrace

Vista our trade, desire our bread –

these are the dreams from which to craft the threads:

the earth the warp, the sky the weft

with which to divine Nature’s Carpet.


Note III: Yellow Drawing Room

To the tune of yellow silk (colour of July, or a midday

Badian sun) this carpet must succumb.

It will have a central, circular medallion

containing a bloom-head encased in anthemion

set into the heart of a four-pointed star.

Behind it, unfurling acanthus,

within dusk-rose and olive chain –

rosette borders, panels at each end.


This, Sir, will be the design, complimented

by the clean, yet ostentatious lines

of Mr. Chippendale’s imagination.

Note IV: The Music Room

At its heart, a central motif extending out

into a parasol of dawn-pink and spring leaves,

til the ‘unheard melodies’ of lyres,

which take their pitch from an Italian-green universe,

where large planets of rosette are circled by constellations

of light. The edges of this galaxy form an outer pole and ribbon stripe.


Carpet should be to ceiling – as earth is to sky.

With this carpet, one should expect

to better understand why we bury a man

in order for his soul to rise

and occupy the glory of a place in heaven –


yours sincerely,

Mr. Robert Adam.


Filming at Harewood House, 17th – 20th May 2017

Visit Yorkshire to see film locations from Victoria at Harewood

As you may know, Harewood House has been used as a major set for ITV’s flagship period drama “Victoria”. Throughout the first series, the production saw Harewood transformed into Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace. The programme was viewed by over 7 million people here in Britain and has also been broadcast in over 100 countries worldwide. Series two is currently being filmed across Yorkshire and between the 17th May – 20th May Harewood will once again become Buckingham Palace. This will cause some changes to visitor access to the House.

To allow the film crew to transform Below Stairs of Harewood House into the kitchens and corridors of Buckingham Palace, we will close Below Stairs during the 17th – 20th May. Access to the Terrace Gallery, Terrace Café and Gavin Fernandes’ exhibition, The Empire Line, will still be possible on 17th, 19th and 20th May.

On 18th May, the film crew are using the southern exteriors of the House. The Terrace will be used so access to this garden and all areas of Below Stairs will not be possible. The State Floor will close slightly earlier, with last admission at 3pm.

To ensure that you can enjoy all of the House, we will be opening the State Floor to all visitors on the 17th May – 20th May at no additional cost. This will allow you to see the magnificent rooms and the Victorian Harewood exhibitions. There will be some disruption to rooms on the State Floor on the 19th May as the Main Library is prepared for filming. Please talk to the team and refer to visitor information when you visit.

Filming generates vital income for Harewood and it makes a significant difference to the charity. We would like to thank all our visitors in advance for their patience and we hope that you enjoy seeing the House being used by a large film production like “Victoria”.