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Princess Mary-A fictional interview for International Women’s Day

Harewood House was home to Princess MaryHarewood’s women, past and present, have played an important role in shaping the Harewood enjoyed by many today, either through the telling of stories, or the impact they have had the House and its surroundings.

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the many Harewood women, here we re-imagined a conversation with Princess Mary based on information we know about her from the archive.

Q – What are you most known for?
A – I am known for my position as a Princess of the United Kingdom – my parents were King George V and Queen Mary. My great-grandmother was Queen Victoria.

Q – What’s the most extraordinary thing you have done? (at work or in personal life)
A – I am most proud of the ‘Sailors and Soldiers Christmas Fund’ appeal of 1914, that was created shortly after the outbreak of WWI. I made a public appeal to raise money in order to send a Christmas gift to every man and woman serving in a King’s uniform. After having visited various hospitals for injured soldiers, I felt it was important for the nation to send a token of love and sympathy to those fighting our battles overseas, at a time when their thoughts would turn to home.

The fund was a huge success, raising over £31,000 during its first week, and rising up to £160,000 by the time the fund was shut down. We distributed over 2.5 million Christmas gift boxes, which comprised of a small brass box that contained a Christmas card and either a pipe and tobacco, cigarettes, chocolate, sweets or spices.

Q – Which females, past or present, inspire you?
A – I am inspired by the work of my colleagues Agnes and Olave Baden-Powell, who together developed the Girl Guide Movement. It was created in response to the growing enthusiasm and pressure from young girls who wanted to take part in Scouting, originally designed for boys. As a young girl, I remember hearing about a Boy Scout Rally when hundreds of girls turned up in uniform ready to take part – it wasn’t long before the Girl Guides was created.

I have always admired the values and spirit of the Girl Guides Association, and became Norfolk’s County Commissioner in 1917. Later, I was made the organisation’s President. In 1937, the 1st Buckingham Palace Guide Company was formed when I enrolled my nieces, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, as a Guide and a Brownie.

Q – How do you challenge stereotypes?
A – As a Princess, people may be surprised to know that I am also a trained nurse. After visiting France during WWI and seeing the remarkable work of the VADs in field hospitals, I asked my parents’ permission to attend training at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where I learned about every aspect of nursing care as well as how to assist during surgery.

I later became Patron of Great Ormond Street Hospital, as well as Commandant-in-Chief of the British Red Cross Detachments, and in 1923 I lent my name to the nursing branch of the Royal Air Force, which became known as ‘Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service’.

You can discover many more of Princess Mary’s stories in a new exhibition Becoming the Yorkshire Princess from 21 March.

Potty for Parrots, Meet Lisa Bath, Bird Keeper


As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Bird Garden at Harewood, Bird Keeper Lisa Bath takes five away from a busy schedule of bird keeping and studying.

What is your role in Harewood Bird Garden?
My job title is bird keeper, which means I look after a group of aviaries containing birds such as Vietnam (Edward’s) pheasant, Java Sparrows and Red-crested turaco, but mainly I care for parrots.
I also perform any incubation and hand-rearing that is required. This usually consists of endangered species, sick chicks or eggs and chicks which are abandoned by their parents.

What is your training or background that led to this role?
I enjoy formal learning, so I have completed a BSc in Animal Management and an industry standard qualification, DMZAA (Diploma in the care of zoo and aquarium animals).
I also volunteered and completed work experience at Blackpool Zoo and Harewood, as well as previously working at Living Coasts in Torquay. Presently I am studying to gain an MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology.

Can you describe what a typical day might look like?
Morning-8am start preparing food for all the birds and animals, followed by feeding and watering everyone.
Afternoon-jobs such as cleaning and gardening inside the aviaries, health checking the birds and aviary maintenance, such as building nest boxes and feeding tables.
During our open season we also give public talks and feeds three times daily.

Favourite and least favourite part of the job?
Favourite-I just enjoy being around the birds and watching their behaviour.
Least favourite-Losing birds. You can become very attached to some, birds so losing them can be hard.

What would you do if you weren’t doing this job?
I always wanted to be a detective like Inspector Morse or Miss Marple, but I’m not sure I’d be any good at it.

Which are your favourite birds?
Parrots are my favourites, especially the Brown lories, as they are cheeky and playful.

What is the importance of Harewood Bird Garden?
Personally, it is the opportunity to work with amazing birds and rare species. I feel that collections such as ours are important to help breed and conserve endangered species such as Bali starlings, Edwards pheasants and Palm cockatoos,
It also enables visitors to learn about the importance of conservation and sustainability of environments, to engage with wildlife and learn about birds they would not normally get to see. I feel it is important for everyone to be aware of the amazing wildlife we have on this planet and why each species is unique.

Celebrations of the Bird Garden start when Harewood opens on 21 March. Find out more about the full season of events, workshops and exhibitions.

Bird Lover and Bird Keeper Extraordinaire, Peter Stubbs takes 5 minutes out

Peter_Stubbs_Harewood_Bird_KeeperBird lover and Bird Keeper extraordinaire, Peter Stubbs is just as much a part of the Bird Garden at Harewood, having worked here since 1974, just four years after the opening.

What’s your role in the Harewood Bird Garden?
Official Title – Senior Keeper. Actual? Same as everybody else. Bird keeper, gardener, builder, carpenter, painter, food caterer, educator, tour guide, supervisor , pest controller…

What’s your background?
I didn’t have any official training before Harewood, they certainly don’t teach this at school, but I have been on various avicultural courses over the years such as incubation and rearing and, like in life, you learn on the job from other people.

Can you describe what a typical day might look like?
My alarm goes off at 4.50am and I’m on the first bus normally at 5.50am. I enjoy the walk down the drive first thing, it’s a lovely walk and setting and I arrive just after 7am with time to do the crossword and enjoy a coffee.
Food prep for the birds starts at 8am, with a break when that’s finished. Depending on how many keepers are working that day, feeding the birds can take a couple of hours. I usually wash the food dishes and prepare the dry food after lunch, ready for the next day. This takes me up to somewhere between 2-3pm. In the afternoon it’s back over to do aviary work; waters, cleaning, landscaping, perching, etc.

The afternoon/evening feeds are done depending on dusk times and daylight length. This can be as early as 3pm in winter, much later during summer. Then it’s back over to the portacabin for the final wash up  before heading home. I’m normally back somewhere between 7 and 8pm.

Do you have a favourite part of the job?
Yes, usually something which entails close contact with the birds.
There’s great satisfaction from completely setting up an aviary, from floor coverings and landscaping to planting, perching and nest siting. Doing this and seeing that the birds feel at home and secure enough to reproduce successfully is a job well done in my book.

Is there a least favourite part?
Filling in questionnaires, review forms and the like!

If you were not doing this job, What would you be doing?
Living a life of luxury…(chuckles)

You’re not supposed to have favourites, but do you and why?
Who says we’re not supposed to have favourites?! I usually say it’s whatever I’m stood next to at time of asking. As I’m filling this out at home it’s the African Grey Parrot whistling in my ear.
At the moment the Crested Seriemas are particular favourites. Their actions, confidence and boldness, their ancestry, the way they look can transport your imagination back millions of years to a time when their ancestors were the top predators in the land. They have nice eyelashes too. (amongst the only birds to have this!)

Final words?
The Bird Garden is a vital part of Harewood, visitors really enjoy the interaction with the birds and learning more about them and how we can protect them from extinction.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Bird Garden, look out for new exhibitions, openings and events across the year here. 

New Team Members Boost Harewood’s Charity Profile

Harewood_NewStarters_Jan2020Two new additions to the Head Office team at Harewood House bring a wealth of experience from similar backgrounds to help raise the profile of Harewood’s charitable status and vision for sustainability for the future.

Rachael Brothwell joins as Senior Membership Manager, responsible for managing and growing the Harewood membership scheme, which this year alone saw strong growth in new members. Rachael has worked for the National Trust, one of the UK’s largest and most successful membership organisations, in addition to the Meningitis Trust.

Rachael said, “This role fulfils many aspects for me and I am really excited to start looking at how we can increase engagement and a sense of ‘ownership’ with our members. Each visitor to Harewood is a potential new ambassador, and I’d love for them to start sharing the many visions of the charity, as a place of living stories and also of wellbeing.”

Emily Booker joins as Development Manager, with a focus to generate income and support from foundations, companies and individuals. She will also lead the newly launched Patrons Programme. Emily was involved in the setting up of the fundraising department at Chatsworth House for the past four years and prior to that has worked on historic building redevelopments, whilst studying for a Master’s degree in ‘Conservation of the Historic Environment’.

Emily highlighted; “For a charity, partnerships and external support from companies and individuals are vital, in order to continue to deliver great quality work and experiences. My aim is to enable Harewood to be more accessible and ambitious with its plans, through acquiring funding from those who believe in our work and align with our values. My immediate focus is on establishing the Patrons Scheme. This is a wonderful opportunity to get people even more engaged in our charitable work and to enable vital support through philanthropic donations.”

You can find out more about joining Harewood as a Member. 

A significant year for flight – call out for Bird Garden stories

Harewood House in Yorkshire is a Bird ZooFifty-year-old flamingos, the first penguins in a country house and a passion and commitment for wildlife and conservation, the Bird Garden at Harewood is an accredited zoo and first opened to the public in spring 1970, then hailed in the press as ‘one of England’s most comprehensive collections of rare and exotic birds from all parts of the world.’

When Harewood reopens on 21 March, following three months of winter closure, it will be to celebrate 50 years of the Bird Garden, with new launches and exhibitions to be revealed across the House, grounds and gardens.

We’re calling out to visitors and local people from around the 1970 opening to get in contact now and share their memories and stories of one of visitors’ most loved areas of Harewood to this day.

The Bird Garden was originally opened by the 7th Earl and the Countess of Harewood, to provide a new attraction for visitors and celebrate their passion for wildlife and the protection of endangered species. At the time they were advised by Sir Peter Scott, the conservationist, ornithologist and founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trusts and also by Len Hill, celebrated ornithologist and founder of Birdland Park and Gardens.

It once housed 500 birds from 140 different species, including native Australian birds from the Countess’ home country, in addition to significant collections of birds from the Himalayas and South America. Today, Harewood is an accredited zoo and a member of BIAZA, the professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland. It is home to approximately 300 birds from 56 different species, of which there are 17 managed international breeding and conservation programmes.

1970 was a significant year of flight – the year Concorde first flew supersonic; the first commercial passenger flight took place on a Jumbo Jet from New York to London and the Apollo 13 mission to the moon.

Jane Marriott, Director, Harewood House Trust, says “The Harewood Bird Garden is one of the best-loved parts of a visit to Harewood for many people, but what people may not know is that we are also an educational charity and the Bird Garden is an accredited zoo. At Harewood, we have a clear commitment to the care, conservation and biodiversity of many endangered bird species from around the world.

“In this 50th anniversary year, we would love to hear from anyone who might have visited in those early years, from when the Bird Garden opened in 1970. We’re sure there are many fascinating stories and memories, and hearing them will enable us to build the most complete picture of the impact of this part of Harewood’s past and its future and how zoos have developed from lovely displays of birds, into a very important place to care for our planet and wildlife.”

Harewood is asking people to send their stories to marketing@harewood.org

You can find out more about the Bird Garden here