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Lindsey Porter

Reasons to be excited about food and drink at Harewood

Harewood_House_FoodandDrinkFood is synonymous with Harewood House, a place where a fully working Walled Garden has provided fresh produce to estate residents and workers, the local community and those further afield for hundreds of years, including during two wartimes.

As part of Harewood House Trust’s broader commitment to the environment and sustainability, including looking at food production, transport and seasonality, a new food and drink offering was due to be presented to visitors this season. A full offering will now be on hold until the green light is given to reopen and operate in a greater capacity alongside recommended guidelines.

The new caterer in the Courtyard Café and the Terrace Tearoom is the Harewood Food & Drink Project, a company that has been engaging diners with their innovative events and commitment to sourcing the very best of local produce since they were set up in 2016. HF & DP was established to promote, showcase and celebrate the heritage of food and drink production in and around Harewood, they’re committed to using seasonal produce grown, reared and foraged on the estate, alongside working with the best of local suppliers. We felt it was important to partner with a caterer who shares and promotes similar philosophies to us, understanding the provenance of food and the impact of food miles.

Here’s the vision for food and drink at Harewood, built around the 5 S’s:
Simple – Simple dishes cooked to perfection

Seasonal – Using ingredients when they are at their absolute best

Sustainable – Champions of  the field to fork, plot to plate and zero miles philosophy, much of what diners will enjoy will be sourced from the Harewood estate and Walled Garden.

Sourced Locally – Working with the very best of local producers and suppliers

Specials – Ever changing seasonal specials board

Harewood_House_food

Photo Clare McClean

Harewood Food & Drink Project has received widespread acclaim for their dining experiences and events over recent years, and also own and run the popular Muddy Boots Café in Harewood Village. Once fully open again, their Executive Chef Josh Whitehead will oversee the menu at the Courtyard and Terrace Tearoom. He was crowned “Best Chef in Yorkshire” at the Yorkshire Post Oliver Awards earlier this year and is a former semi-finalist in 2016 MasterChef: The Professionals.

Innovative collaborations have included a number of bespoke beers with award-winning Leeds brewers Northern Monk, using hops from the Walled Garden; and Whittaker’s Gin Harewood Greystone Gin, made from the hand-picked mulberries from the 150-year old tree growing alongside the Harewood lake, and elderberries foraged from across the estate.

“We are really excited to be working with Harewood Food and Drink Project to deliver our brand-new food offer at Harewood. Earlier this year we underwent a competitive tender process to select a new partner and HF&DP really impressed us in terms of their commitment to menu innovation, quality, provenance and sustainability. We have already been working with them to deliver private events in the house and Courtyard, the most impressive of which was our Christmas Magic by Moonlight dinner, an enchanting candle-lit, long table dinner hosted amongst the Renaissance Masters in the Gallery.

“During our closed season, our Courtyard Café and Terrace Tearoom have undergone a refurbishment, working with Leeds botanical studio, The Plant Room, and we look forward to opening them alongside some delicious new menus to our Members and visitors as soon as it’s safe to do so.”
Rachel Crewes, Head of Trading

To find out more about food and drink at Harewood.

Orpheus – the story of a statue

As May is Share-a-Story month, here’s a story about one of the most photographed sculptures at Harewood, Orpheus, the magnificent bronze sculpture by German-born British artist Astrid Zydower, installed on the Terrace at Harewood in 1985.

Inspired by the figure from classical mythology, his story is one of both enchantment and tragedy.

According to legend, Orpheus was the son of Calliope, the muse of epic poetry. He perfected the art of music, taught how to play the lyre by Apollo and known for his love for his wife Eurydice and his journey to the underworld to rescue her from death. He is said to have used his musical prowess to persuade Hades to release Eurydice, granted only on the condition that Orpheus walk out of the underworld without looking back. Emerging from the kingdom of the dead, Orpheus turned back to check on his wife, only to see Eurydice vanish before him.

Today, Orpheus stands on the former site of a large Victorian fountain installed by the architect Sir Charles Barry as part of the original design of the Terrace. The fountain was lost in 1976 due to frost damage, and it was up to the 7th Earl and Countess to decide how to replace it:

“When our Victorian fountain fell down, literally overnight, we thought at once of Astrid and spent many hours discussing with her and with Dicky [Richard Buckle] what we should put in its place. We wanted a musical subject, we thought, but it was not easy to think of the right one…we saw her maquette for the figure she was making for Lincoln Kirstein and realised that this was exactly right. We wrote to Lincoln to ask his permission and received an enthusiastic “Yes!”.

On 14 May 1985 Orpheus took his place on the Terrace at Harewood where he was unveiled by actress and friend of the 7th Earl and Countess of Harewood, Penelope Keith.

Harewood’s Orpheus plays homage to his character’s musical talents, seen with a tamed leopard resting on his outstretched arms. Rather poetically, Orpheus also looks out onto a landscape designed by ‘Capability’ Brown, who literally moved rocks, rivers and trees to create it. Harewood_House_OrpheusPhoto

Today, Orpheus provides an impressive focal point for visitors who enjoy the stunning vista from the Library in the House across the Terrace. He is not only a reflection of the personal interests and musical knowledge and skill of the 7th Earl and Countess – a sophisticated statement about the individuals who once lived here – but also a 20th century nod towards the neo-classical decoration that adorns much of the House, where the pantheon of Greco-Roman gods and goddesses oversee everything.

Stay connected with Harewood on @HarewoodHouse on Instagram and Facebook.

A Family Love Affair with Birds, by Ben Lascelles

Harewood_House_Trust_BirdsWith a degree in Environmental Management and Economics, Ben Lascelles is the son of the current Earl of Harewood and manages the Harewood Estate, whilst playing an active role in contributing to the Charity’s Bird Garden management.

1. What’s your background and connection to Harewood Bird Garden?
I manage the Harewood Estate, the land surrounding the charitable Trust, and am Chair of the Harewood Bird Garden Advisory Group.
I’ve always loved the outdoors and birding is a great excuse to get outside and observe the world around us. As kids we’d spend a lot of time outside, climbing, swimming, having picnics and exploring. I think my first proper bird experience was visiting the famous RSPB reserve of Minsmere in Suffolk, close to where my grandmother lived for some years.

I had a year off before studying Environmental Management and Economics at York University, heading to Nepal and working as a guide in a safari lodge. This is where I really got into wildlife photography.

2. Where have your bird studies taken you?
The nature of my studies has enabled me to travel all over the world and work on some incredibly varied and far reaching projects. This has included time on a remote mountain range in Southern Tanzania, which had a lot of unusual and rare species of birds, a year working in Mauritius, contributing to a project to study the Pink Pigeon, a species we kept for many years in the Harewood bird garden, several years in the most famous rare bird migration spot in the UK, the Scilly Isles and then a project with the Smithsonian Institute in Panama, Central America.

I’ve also studied topics closer to home such as projects on Drax Power Station, Dalby Forest and Pocklington Canal, but these international visits have expanded my knowledge about the importance of conservation, what interventions work in different locations and given me a passion to share this knowledge and these incredible bird species where I can.

HarewoodHouse_Trust_birds2

3. What do you know of your family’s love for birds?
My grandparents had a strong interest in and love of birds when they established the Harewood Bird Garden in 1970. I was also aware that my father had an interest via film work he undertook on various research trips in the 70s. However, the family connection reaches much further back. Harewood was home to an 18th Century menagerie and Charles Canning received an award for the introduction of Himalayan pheasants into England. Later my grandfather was President of the World Pheasant Association for many years.

Gerald Lascelles, son of the 4th Earl, was a competent falconer from an early age. He wrote several pioneering books on falconry and land management and was a land manager in the New Forest for many years. When moving back to Yorkshire some years ago, I enjoyed learning about Princess Mary’s interest in birds and of her ornamental owl collection. I thought I’d built up quite a good selection of owl figurines over the years, put to shame by her Faberge Owl!

Ben Lascelles, Harewood Estate (3)

4. Why is an understanding of birds and bird conservation important/enriching?
In our globalised world, it’s more important than ever that we’re aware of the impacts our choices can have on the environment and the species within it. Consumer choice drives so much of our politics and economics that making informed decisions about what we buy is a key part of sustainability and conservation. Until recent years, we haven’t always been aware of the impacts we have or the choices we can make.
Birds are great indicators of what’s going on in the world around us and how their numbers fluctuate can inform us around how sustainable different practices are.

And in this fast-paced world, taking time out to just sit and observe is a great release for stress and anxiety. Mindfulness and wellbeing are easily associated with watching birds.

5. As Chair of the Bird Advisory Group at Harewood House, what role do you play?
I was asked to set up and chair the Advisory Group around five years ago. The group provides advice and recommendations to the Harewood Trustees for all matters relating to the Bird Garden. I’m keen to better make the connection between conservation works here at the charity and on the estate with those going on abroad.

The mantra of “think global, act local” is a good one. The group is a forum for assessing and adopting best practice in the Bird Garden across a range of topics such as ethics, fundraising for the charity, project development and collection planning. With my background in science, I’m trying to bring some data driven rigour to our recommendations and help make connections to conservation projects round the world, which is where the Bird Garden has a role to play, in connecting young people.

6. What’s significant about Harewood’s bird collection and role?
50 years is a long time for a small collection such as ours to keep running. We’ve always had excellent care of the birds in our collection and over the years some notable successes in breeding in captivity. This is a critical step before reintroduction schemes can take place.
In recent years we’ve scaled the collection back somewhat to allow us to focus our efforts on key areas where there is a connection to Harewood, including South America, the Himalayas, parrots and our native wildlife.

The Harewood Bird Garden plays an important role in raising awareness for the plight of some of these endangered species, through the appreciation gained through seeing them and learning about them from the keepers and from a visit to Harewood.

To learn more about how you can play your role in supporting the Bird Garden Appeal, read more here.

New Bird Game to Download and Play

Harewood_House_PeckingOrderBirdGameIn the countdown to what would have been the Half Term Holidays The Pecking Order is an activity pack of 56 playful bird statistic, free to download online.

The colourful cards represent the 56 different species of birds in the Harewood Bird Garden and the ‘Top Trumps’ style game has been created to celebrate the 50th anniversary this year – just one of many online initiatives to entertain families and children, stay connected whilst they cannot be at Harewood, and also to raise awareness for the Bird Appeal.

Nick Dowling, Bird Garden Manager, said; “We’re really excited to be sharing our bird collection with the public in such a year. Birds have been a part of Harewood’s heritage dating as far back as the 4th Earl in the 19th century and when the 7th Earl George Lascelles and his wife Patricia set up the Harewood Bird Garden in 1970, it was not only to provide an opportunity for people to see some incredible species up close, it was with the hope that visitors would learn about and care for the conservation of the birds, something that remains at the core of the charity’s work today.”

The majority of Harewood’s 300+ birds are endangered in the wild, with several species critically endangered and some believed to be extinct.

Playing an active role in 17 international breeding projects, Harewood is also a holding venue for confiscated birds from the illegal customs trade and a rehabilitation facility for injured Red Kites.

Whilst the gates are closed to the House and visitor attraction, work behind the scenes to care for the birds must continue in spite of no visitor income, which is the reason why the Trust has an ambition to raise £35,000 at this time – the amount it costs to take care of our birds for 12 weeks.

Four cards will be available to download daily from Sunday 17 May. These will be uploaded to the Harewood website and shared across social media @HarewoodHouse on Facebook and Instagram. The ‘wow’ factor is scored across size, weight, intelligence, lifespan and risk of extinction.

A weekend of birthday celebrations will go ahead as planned on the last weekend of the Half Term, 30 & 31 May, but with activities online. These include creative sessions with Aardman Animations model maker Jim Parkyn and Leeds-based bird illustrator, Matt Sewell, in addition to a virtual party online.

With just six weeks to go, the Bird Appeal is calling out for those passionate about birds and engaged in the work Harewood is doing to support if they can.

VE Day – A Double Celebration for Harewood

Harewood_House_VE_day75 years ago today, the Allied Nations celebrated Victory in Europe Day, signaling the end of the Second World War.

For the village of Harewood, VE day was a double celebration, as it celebrated the return of George Viscount Lascelles, future 7th Earl of Harewood, arriving home following his imprisonment as a Prisoner of War. The village welcomed him back to Harewood with flags and ‘welcome home’ bunting. A newspaper reported the scene:

“The sun came out for his homecoming. The chestnuts were in flower. Every cottage window had it’s Union Jack; small ones fluttered from crannies in the stone walls. Children, some carrying prayer books as well as flags, began to hop about outside the gates almost an hour before Lord Lascelles and the Princess Royal were due…Eight year old Susanna FitzRoy (Queen Mary’s god-daughter) sat her pony like a little queen and threw her velvet red riding cap in the air when the car passed…. Estate workers and tenantry, many of whom had known [George] since he was a child and whom shared his parents’ anxiety, were delighted to hear him repeat that he felt very well…. It was a fitting climax to Harewood’s VE day”

George joined the Grenadier Guards in 1942 at the age of 19. On the battlefields of Italy he was shot and wounded on 18th June 1944 and captured by the Nazis. He was imprisoned in Oflag IV-C, better known as Colditz Castle, alongside other “Prominentes” or ‘celebrities’ as Hitler tagged them – all prisoners with illustrious Allied connections, that were earmarked as powerful bargaining chips.

In March 1945, Hitler signed George’s death warrant and SS commander Gottlob Berger was ordered to execute the Prominente. But realising the war was lost, Berger failed to carry out the sentence and released his prisoners to the Swiss.

In his memoirs, The Tongs and the Bones (1981), George writes about his experiences as a Prisoner of War, which involved a thwarted escape attempt, and describes the moment he was told of his release:

“General Berger told us that he thought the war was within a day or two of coming to its end; he disbelieved in keeping prisoners pointlessly, although it was his duty to tell us that he had received orders to shoot us. He was going to disobey those orders because he thought them futile and indeed criminal, and had made arrangements to hand us over to the Swiss, who were coming immediately to take us through the German lines and deliver us into Allied hands…Leaving in the mid-afternoon of the 4 May with a feeling of total exhilaration – like a child going to its first party – we somehow assumed we should go fast and be in Allied hands in a couple of hours. But it was not like that…. We motored on through the night until at first light the German troops by the side of the road told him they thought there were no more Germans in front. We put a Swiss flag on the front of the car and drove very slowly into no-man’s land…For perhaps a few miles we saw absolutely nothing. We were going very slowly and eventually we arrived at the American front line, with no fuss, and that was that.”

Watch this short conversation with Assistant Curator, Rebecca Burton, to see a different side to Harewood during wartime.