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Year

2022

The Ferry at Harewood

Why isn’t the Ferry running?

Harewood’s Ferry made its maiden voyage in June 2018 and has carried thousands of Harewood visitors every week between the Bird Garden, Bothy and Walled Garden.
In May 2022, the water level in the Lake started to decrease due to low rainfall throughout winter and spring. In June the water level reached a point where the Ferry ran aground and could no longer run. The mud banking you can see around the Lake has not been seen since the Lake was last drained many decades ago.

When will it be operating again?

Unless the weather for the remaining half of the year features a consistent and heavy amount of rain, it is unlikely that the water level will reach a point where we can operate the Ferry again until 2023.
Harewood House Trust, the charity that looks after this site, and the Harewood Estate are working with the Environment Agency and Leeds City Council to ensure the health and wellbeing of Harewood’s wildlife that rely on the Lake. The Trust and Estate are also looking at the Lake’s infrastructure to help plan and mitigate against the impact of climate change, including prolonged periods of dry weather.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

 

Harewood House Trust Appoints Darren Pih as Chief Curator and Artistic Director

Pih joins the Harewood House Trust executive team from Tate Liverpool. In this new role, he will lead the charity’s award-winning exhibition programme, and care for the museum’s outstanding collection of painting, decorative interiors, furniture and porcelain. His work will further Harewood’s purpose to make heritage relevant, using the collections and landscape to help shape a more sustainable world, unlock people’s creativity and enrich lives.

Over the past five years, Harewood has received universal recognition for its innovative programming including the Harewood Biennial alongside its new Craft Spotlight and Open History series addressing the urgent issues of our time from equality, diversity and inclusion, and social and environmental issues prevalent in society today. Darren has worked across exhibitions that have featured many of today’s leading artists, has toured major exhibitions for Tate Liverpool around the world, and has commissioned several new works. Most recently, his Radical Landscapes exhibition explores climate emergency, trespass and social and cultural change through a century of landscape art – an exhibition which shares Harewood’s values entirely.

With a history of collections care and producing exhibitions closely linked to Harewood’s programming ambitions, trustee of Harewood House Trust Iwona Blazwick OBE commented:

‘Pih’s deep engagement with modern and contemporary art will bring a dynamic new perspective to Harewood, connecting its distinguished history of arts patronage with the present. I can’t wait to see what his curatorial vision will contribute – not only to Harewood’s great legacy but the wider Yorkshire art scene’.

Since 2017, Harewood – which reached a record-breaking 250,000 visitors in 2021 – has been pushing the boundaries of its programming under the leadership of Jane Marriott, building on the Trust’s and the Lascelles’ commitment to acknowledging the estate’s colonial past for over 30 years, and exploring and provoking conversation around societal issues that affect us all. This commitment remains stronger than ever and is central to the Trust’s programming aims, the work of its staff and volunteers, and working with the communities in and around Leeds.

Trust Director Jane Marriott comments of Darren’s appointment:

‘I am delighted to welcome Darren as Harewood’s first Chief Curator and Artistic Director. This role epitomises our ambitions to reimagine the country house for the 21st century with bold, exciting and innovative programming. Darren brings a thoughtful approach and excellent track record, in combining the care of historic collections with the work of contemporary artists, in order to develop our ambitions as a charity and museum.’

Darren Pih’s first major exhibition under his curatorial lead will be Harewood’s second Craft Spotlight, to be announced later this year, and a Harewood ‘year of play’ to coincide with Leeds 2023 celebrations. On his appointment, he said:

‘I am delighted to be joining Harewood and contributing to its ambitions by leading its exhibitions programme. Harewood and its history make it a unique site for presenting art and ideas that engage with many of the most urgent issues of our time, including environmental responsibility, colonialism and social inclusion. It’s a fantastic opportunity to create new knowledge around its collections, by bringing contemporary and modern art into dialogue with the heritage and history of Harewood.’

Download the full press release including editor’s notes >> 

Recovering Identity in Harewood’s West Indian Archive

inventory

Inventory of enslaved people belonging to Castle plantation, Barbados, 1777.

In this article, Olivia Wyatt – Harewood’s volunteer researcher and an expert on the Lascelles family’s West Indian archive held at the Borthwick Institute – discusses the importance of surviving plantation inventories and how they can be used to recover the identities of enslaved African Caribbeans.

Deep within the Lascelles family’s West Indian archive lies the collection’s best preserved inventory of enslaved African Caribbeans – that of Castle plantation, Barbados, dated to 1777. 

“It was created to enable plantation managers to calculate the value of their enslaved population and reinforce their subhuman status.”

This inventory (or list) records over 200 individuals by name as well as their ‘country’ of origin, occupation, computed age and condition. It was created to enable plantation managers to calculate the value of their enslaved population and reinforce their subhuman status. Ironically, however, historians can use this and other similar inventories, to ascertain lost names and reconstruct the lives of the marginalised, in turn helping us to return power to enslaved African Caribbeans. By using inventories to understand the ways in which experiences of disability, Blackness and naming practices operated on Lascelles-managed sugar plantations, we can diminish the attempts of slave masters who sought to eradicate the legacy of those they enslaved. 

Some of the entries in the Castle Plantation inventory claim that the value of certain individuals was “nothing” because they had a “broken back” or were “very infirm”. At first glance, old age appears to be a key factor in this assessment, as the estimated age of ‘Great Joe’ and ‘Old Bridget’ was 80; Great Joe was only worth £10 despite being a “clarifier” and in “good health”. 

However, a thirty-year-old man was also deemed valueless because he too was “infirm”. This implies that any injuries enslaved individuals acquired – most likely through work on the plantations – rendered them worthless, unable to emulate the labour of their counterparts. Even ‘Robin Almond’, at the age of just 10, is listed as valueless because he was also “infirm”. ‘Goany’, however, despite being only one month-old and “not fit for work”, was worth £5 because she was considered to have labour potential. These entries show that not only were enslaved African Caribbeans dehumanised by the brutal ways in which they were treated, but Black disabled people were considered worthless because they could not fulfill their assigned purpose, which reinforced the idea that Africans were only fit for servitude.

In an attempt to strip enslaved African Caribbeans of their identity, it became common practice to rename newly-arriving Africans as objects, or to give them European names. Two examples are ‘Black Silver’, a 45 year-old enslaved woman, and ‘Yellow Silver’, a Barbadian enslaved washer. The dehumanisation that naturally occurs when one’s heritage and name is replaced with that of a commodity reveals how slave owners intended to use naming practices to further oppress the enslaved population. These two names also represent the different shades of Blackness found on Caribbean plantations, which usually emerged as a result of the (typically coercive) sexual relations between enslaved women and their masters. ‘Black’ and ‘Yellow’ likely refer to the shades of the women’s skin, given that ‘Black Wallis’ and ‘Molatto William’ are other names on the plantation. ‘Yellow Silver’, like ‘Molatto William’, may have acquired her light complexion due to a mixed heritage. We do not know enough about the lives of the individuals listed in this inventory, though a growing amount of research has revealed that light-skinned African Caribbeans sometimes received preferential treatment due to their proximity to Whiteness. This could explain why ‘Molatto William’ was accorded one of the most valuable roles on the plantation. 

Nonetheless, research has also revealed that enslaved African Caribbeans often had multiple names because they did not always adhere to the names that slave owners gave them. They also often played a role in the naming of their children and grandchildren. The names ‘Phibah’ and ‘Quashy’ appear frequently in the Castle plantation inventory, which have been identified as West-African “day names”, as ‘Phibah’ translates as Friday and ‘Quashy’ as Sunday. Historians agree that it was unlikely that slave owners selected these West-African names; therefore, these African naming practices are indicative of the ways in which the enslaved population retained their culture and humanity in the face of the brutality of slavery. 

 

But what about Castle plantation itself and why this inventory was created? 

The Lascelles family initially avoided owning plantations and instead operated as one of the biggest financiers of the Caribbean plantocracy and the sugar trade. Nonetheless, from 1773 they amassed many properties in Barbados, Jamaica, Grenada, and they sold their last plantation in 1975. Alongside managing their own plantations, the Lascelles provided loans for other planters and controlled some plantations as mortgagees in possession. The Castle plantation in the parish of St Lucy in Barbados was one such plantation. The Sober family owned it in name, but the management of the estate was overseen by representatives of the Lascelles family, and its produce was consigned to the Lascelles’ commission house in London until the mortgage was repaid. To determine the specifics of this mortgage, surveyors composed a full inventory of the Castle plantation’s enslaved population, cattle and horses in 1777. This document was originally drafted therefore to reaffirm the assigned status of enslaved African Caribbeans as property, but this blog has demonstrated how it can today be used to recover their humanity and ensure that they are never forgotten. 

Olivia Wyatt
HHT Volunteer Researcher

‘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