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Curatorial Team

Behind the Scenes – installing an exhibition

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska: New Rhythms

Installing the exhibition credit Oliva  (1)

The new Henri Gaudier-Brzeska; New Rhythms  exhibition in the Terrace Gallery is composed of important artworks belonging to Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Harewood House Trust and a number of other private and institutional lenders.  A few days before being the exhibition is installed and then opened to the public, the artworks are shipped to Harewood House, the fine art transport truck provided by a specialist fine art shipping company. The inside of the truck is padded and all the crates are strapped to avoid any movement during the transportation.  You can see the strapped wooden crate in which The Wrestlers bas-relief was transported on the right bottom corner of the first picture: over 100 kg!

Installing the exhibition credit Oliva  (2)

Crates and showcases are unloaded by the shippers and Harewood Collections department to a temporary storage or directly in the Terrace Gallery where the exhibition will be held. Once the Terrace Gallery walls are prepared, the installation can start: stands and showcases are carefully positioned and artworks are installed according to a pre-planned the installation plan, vinyls, panels and labels (`interpretation`) are positioned on the wall after the final positioning of the artworks, film and video media are installed  and the exhibition lighting is adjusted.

Installing the exhibition credit Oliva  (3)

Photographs: Olivia Bayley and Marie-Astrid Martin

The Oldest and Most Expensive Rum in the World

Our Story Begins

Our journey starts over 300 years ago at a time when adventurous Europeans were colonizing newly discovered corners of the world. The Lascelles family were ambitious, and set out to make their fortune in the West Indies. Initially they had limited success producing tobacco, cotton, sugar and its by-product, rum. Slaves were the main source of labour, and the Lascelles family became both owners and traders of African slaves in the West Indies.

It was in 1711, that Henry Lascelles, son of a prosperous gentleman farmer from Stank Hall near Northallerton, traveled to Barbados to work in the family business. His arrival sparked a remarkable progression in the previously unsuccessful business. With the help of his half-brother Edward, Henry quickly established himself as one of the island’s most energetic, enterprising and ruthless entrepreneurs. The brothers made a success of the business, adding banking to their list of endeavors, often repossessing plantations and slaves when rival owners defaulted on loans.

Within two decades, Henry had become one of the wealthiest and sophisticated entrepreneurs in the West Indies. It is from this fortune that Harewood House was built.

The Oldest and Most Expensive Rum in the World

In 2011, whilst preparing an inventory of wines and spirits in the dark cellars of Harewood House, Mark Lascelles and his colleague Andy Langshaw found something they did not expect.

Harewood Rum

At the back of the farthest cellar they saw two dusty shelves, upon which sat some mysterious looking bottles. Barely discernible under a thick coating of cobwebs and mould, the bottles were black with age, and so toxic looking Mark and Andy were wary about touching them without gloves! Very carefully, they brushed off the layers of dirt. They sniffed the contents with caution. What had they found?

In December 2013, 12 bottles of the Harewood Rum went up for sale at Christie’s in London. Nothing like this had ever come on the market before. Even the experts were quite unsure what to expect! Bidding started at £1,000 and quickly escalated in the electric auction room.

Six bottles of the Light Rum sold for nearly £25,000, with the last bottles of Dark Rum sold for a mind-boggling £7,000 each! No one could believe what they were seeing.

In December 2014, the final sale was even more astonishing. The last 16 bottles sold for a total well in excess of £100,000 making Harewood Rum officially not only the oldest, but also the most expensive rum in the world.

But what should be done with the proceeds?

Geraldine Connor Foundation

Throughout the whole process of discovery and research, everyone was committed to using funds from the rum sale in a positive way. The decision was made to donate the proceeds to the Geraldine Connor Foundation supporting the varied and vibrant Caribbean communities in Britain today.

Geraldine Connor was a larger-than-life character originally from Trinidad. A dynamic and imaginative theatre director, she supported Caribbean communities connecting young people with the arts.

After her premature death in 2011, not long after the rum was discovered, a foundation was set up in her name, to carry on her work in the performing arts especially, but not exclusively, with young people.

The foundations vision is to continuing the work and vision of Geraldine Connor in advancing the development and education of individuals in the arts and culture, and thereby developing professional and life skills, encouraging and nurturing new work and talent, and encouraging and promoting equality, diversity, empowerment and inclusion in society through the Arts.

Since its inception, the Foundation has hosted talks, performances and a free performing arts summer school for teenagers. More projects and performances, including another summer school, will happen this year.

What could be more appropriate than to under-pin the Foundation’s work with the proceeds from the rum sale? Putting something back. An alchemical transformation of base metal into gold.

2015 Exhibition

Join us between 3rd April and 29th June, to explore in detail, the story of the Harewood Rum. It’s your chance to get close to the oldest and most expensive rum in the world. Read more.


Geraldine Connor Foundation




Visit www.gcfoundation.co.uk for info on the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

A Christmas Legacy Continues

At the start of the First World War, there was a mass outpouring of sympathy and charity for the men fighting for Britain. The Royal family were not immune to this and in October 1914, the young Princess Mary, inspired by her visits to hospitals for injured soldiers, wanted to show her support.

She felt the dangers of war as sharply as many other women did as her two brothers, David (later King Edward VIII) and Bertie, (later King George VI), began active service.

On October 15th 1914, Mary publicly announced her intentions to provide a gift for ‘every sailor afloat and every soldier at the front’ in a letter sent out from Buckingham Palace.

By the 20th October 1914, the fund had received over £12,000 in donations. The following week this amount had risen to £31,000. By the time the fund was closed in 1920, £162,591 12s 5d had been donated. This money was used to create over 2.5 million gift boxes for soldiers, sailors, nurses and other people involved in the war effort at Christmas 1914.

 About the Christmas Gift Fund

The inaugural meeting of the Christmas Gift Fund Committe, which was set up to pursue Princess Mary’s ambitions, was held on the 14th October 1914. The committee comprised of significant and notable personalities from the time. The Chair of the committee was the Duke of Devonshire supported by the British Prime Minister, H. H. Asquith, the Treasurer Lord Revelstoke, and the secretary Rowland Berkeley.

Princess Mary lived at Harewood after WW1

HRH Princess Mary

Wasting no time, on the 15th October 1914, Buckingham Palace released a statement from Princess Mary:

For many weeks we have all been greatly concerned for the welfare of the sailors and soldiers who are so gallantly fighting our battles by sea and land. Our first consideration has been to meet their more pressing needs, and I have delayed making known wish that has long been in my heart for fear of encroaching on other fund, the claims of which have been more urgent, I want you now to help me to send a Christmas present from the whole nation to every sailor afloat and every solider at the front. On Christmas Eve, when, like shepherds of old they keep watch, doubtless their thoughts will turn to home and loved ones left behind, and perhaps, too, hey will recall days when, as children themselves, they were wont to hang out their stocking wondering what the morrow had in store. I am sure that we should all be happier to feel that we had helped to send our little token of love and sympathy on Christmas morning, something that would be useful and of permanent value, the making of which may be the means of providing employment in trades adversely affected by the war. Could there be anything more likely to hearten them in their struggle than a present received straight from home on Christmas Day? Please will you help me? Mary’

The Gift Box and the contents

Things began to progress quickly. The next decision to be taken was what should be included in the boxes, and how they should look.

The final design for the boxes was provided by Messrs Adshead and Ramsay. The boxes were five inches long, 3 and a quarter wide and one and a quarter deep, with a hinged lid. In the centre of the lid is an image of Princess Mary, surrounded by a wreath, with two Princess Mary ‘M’ monograms beside this. Inscribed on a cartouche at the top of the box are the words Imperium Britannicum, a reference to Britain’s imperial power. In other cartouches, around the edge of the box are the names of Britain’s allies in the First World War; Belgium, France, Servia, Montenegro, Russia and Japan. At the bottom is inscribed Christmas 1914.

Harewood House has a interesting history with WW1

Most gift boxes contained smoking paraphernalia. The standard box contained a pipe, one ounce of tobacco, a lighter and twenty monogrammed cigarettes, along with a Christmas card from the royal family, and a picture of Princess Mary.

People began to point out that there should also be a gift made available to those who did not smoke, and to Ghurkhas fighting for the British, many of whose religion did not allow smoking.

For non-smokers, an alternative box was arranged. Inside these boxes, instead of cigarettes the men found a pencil, with a case made to look like a bullet, a pack of sweets, and, again, the Royal family Christmas card and picture of Princess Mary.

Indian troops, again, got something different. They received a box with a packet of sugar candy, one packet of cigarettes, if their religion allowed, and a small box of spices. Unlike native British troops Indian Ghurkhas were given an allowance, as opposed to rations, so they could buy their own food. These Indian Ghurkhas could use their spices to cook dishes from India which would normally be unavailable when fighting in Europe.

Another special gift box was made up for nurses serving in frontline hospitals. These still contained the Christmas card and Princess Mary picture, which featured in all variations of the box, but contained chocolate, as opposed to sweets and cigarettes.

Type of Gift Box What Was Included?
Standard smokers 1914 (inc. Ghurkhas) Christmas card, Princess Mary picture,Lighter (sometimes replaced by alt. small present), Pipe, One ounce of Tobacco, Twenty monogrammed Cigarettes.
Standard non-smokers 1914 Christmas Card, Princess Mary Picture, Bullet casing pencil, Acid tablets, Khaki writing case.
Sikh gift box 1914 Christmas Card, Princess Mary Picture, Sugar candy, Box of Spices.
Bhistis 1914 Christmas Card, Princess Mary picture, Tin box of spices.
Other Indian Troops 1914 Christmas Card, Princess Mary Picture, Sugar candy, Packed of Cigarettes, Box of spices.
Nurses 1914 Christmas Card, Princess Mary Picture, Chocolate.
Universal box 1915-1918 New Year’s Card, Pencil.

Manufacture and Distribution

The production and distributing of the Gift Box was a huge task. All industries were under strain during the First World War. Tobacco was becoming harder to come by and more of a luxury, and all metal was being pumped into the armaments industry to make weapons.

It was difficult to obtain the necessary resources to create Princess Mary’s Gift Boxes. The boxes were to be made of brass, a material hard to come by due to its usefulness in weapon and munitions productions. Special sheets of brass had to be ordered in from the USA which took a long time to arrive eventually halting production.

Another twist in this tale comes from an unlikely source; the sinking of the US ship the Lusitania. This famous ship was sailing from the USA to England before it was hit by a German torpedo and sunk on 7th May 1915 just off the Irish coast. This tragedy involved a huge loss of human life, with all 1,195 passengers on board losing their lives. Also lost was a large quantity of brass that was to be made into Princess Mary gift boxes.

Despite these problems the gift boxes were still a success. By Christmas 1914  355,716 gifts had reached members of the British Expeditionary force, 66,168 gift boxes had reached men at home on sick leave, 4,600 had gone to the French Mission, fighting alongside British soldiers in France, and 1,390 boxes had reached nursing staff in the army. This meant that over 426,724 gift boxes had been made and distributed in just two months. Over the next four years another two million boxes would be delivered to people involved in Britain’s war effort.


These boxes were designed to create a feeling of unity under the British Royal Family and to boost morale among those facing front line fighting. Princess Mary received many letters of thanks from serving troops expressing their gratitude at the thoughtful generosity of the young Princess and from the British nation.

Harewood has WW1 stories

The box occasionally had a more specific impact on individuals too. One Private Maynard, who fought in WW1 wrote to the Princess Royal whilst she lived at Harewood to inform her that her gift box had saved his life! Whilst serving, Private Maynard was shot in the chest. The bullet was deflected by the gift box which he was carrying in his pocket at the time.

The Story Continues

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War, and to say a heartfelt thank you to the thousands of brave troops currently serving in the armed forces, this December, Fortnum & Mason is sending beautiful, limited-edition Christmas tins to all British servicemen and women on active duty throughout the world. The tins are filled with bespoke, miniature playing cards and a luxury milk chocolate bar.

WW1 Gift Box replica

Called ‘Tommy’s Tin’, after Tommy Atkins, the colloquial term for a common soldier in the British army, Fortnum’s 2014 tins are virtually identical to those sent to the troops by Princess Mary  during World War One. They come in the same brushed-gold colour, with the same hinging, and are heavily embossed just like the originals. A few discrete alterations indicate that this tin is a 21st century creation. The Fortnum’s replica includes the badges for the Army, Navy and Air Force, whilst on either side of the head of Britannia, the central design feature, are the letters ‘F’ and ‘M’.

You can see the original Gift Boxes and the 2014 editions at an exhibition at Harewood from 3rd April 2015.

Drama, Intrigue and Obsession

Harewood House launches new exhibition in 2014As part of the Yorkshire Festival, Harewood is launching a sensational new display throughout the House this Easter. In Pursuit of the Exquisite: Royal Sèvres, from Versailles to Harewood features the delicate and highly prized Sèvres porcelain collected by Edward ‘Beau’ Lascelles.  These extraordinary pieces survived the downfall of their original owners, the tumult of the French Revolution and the difficult journey from Versailles to Harewood.

This exquisite porcelain was obsessively collected by aristocratic and royal patrons, including the ill-fated King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.  After their executions, works from the Royal Palaces at Versailles were sold, and many of the finest pieces found their way to England. Edward, Viscount Lascelles (1764 – 1814) was one of several British collectors who acquired works along with the fashionable Prince Regent, later King George IV.

Known as ‘Beau’, Edward was among London’s most avid collectors. He had an eye for beautiful objects and a bank balance to support his expensive taste. 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of his death and In Pursuit of the Exquisite is a fitting tribute to a great collector of Sèvres and an early patron of British watercolourists, including JMW Turner and Thomas Girtin whose work is also now on display in the House.

Anna Dewsnap, Head of House and Collections said, “We are delighted that the distinguished Sèvres scholar Dame Rosalind Savill has worked with Harewood to curate this wonderful exhibition. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the House.”

Lady Harewood said, “Harewood’s world renowned collection of Sevres has never before been displayed in it’s entirety.  These exquisite pieces celebrate the extraordinary skill and achievement of the many individuals who have worked for Sevres over the past 200 years.  With over a 100 pieces on display In Pursuit of the Exquisite is not to be missed.”

Alongside the Sèvres exhibition, work from three contemporary artists make connections between the past and present. In the Terrace Gallery, Dan Scott explores the poignant life of Queen Marie Antoinette through video and sound, creating new works which examine the idea of objects as silent witnesses. Below Stairs in the China Cupboards, Michelle Taylor and Livia Marin delicately transform everyday china into unique artworks.