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Lindsey Porter

Archiving the collection of linen at Harewood

Linen at Harewood House

Linen at Harewood House

Over the years as a working family home, Harewood House and its inhabitants amassed a significant collection of table and bed linen, used to dress both public and private spaces for occasions of every kind.

Over the past three months, a project to document and re-house this collection, which consists of table cloths, placemats, napkins, bed sheets and pillowcases, from the humble to the highly decorative, has taken place.

Trust volunteers Avril and John have worked methodically to create an inventory that describes in detail the fabric and patterns of the mainly white and ivory linens, measuring each item and highlighting any identifying marks such as the family crest or the Garter Knights coat of arms, some of which date back to the 1930s. Once listed and photographed, each piece was then carefully packed and wrapped in Tyvek (a lightweight, water resistant yet breathable material) to prevent dust or pest infiltration. Finally, each bundle and box was labelled and its storage location recorded.

“We’ve had a fascinating time working on this project,” said Avril, who has been volunteering with Harewood House Trust for many years. “It was interesting to note the patterns and to see that decoration was quite seasonal, maybe with flowers and fruit for one time of the year and other foliage for different times of the year. Some of the tablecloths stretch over fifty metres.”

Rebecca Burton, Assistant Curator and Archivist, added: “During the documentation process, the volunteers discovered beautifully embroidered and hand-finished items that resonate particularly well with our current exhibition Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, particularly the contemporary work on display in Princess Mary’s Dressing Room by the studio Jenny King Embroidery. Some particularly beautiful placements decorated with Irish embroidery (the technique employed by Jenny King) discovered during the project are currently on display in that room.”

A communication from the 6th Earl to Princess Mary in January 1922 says;

“I hear very privately that N. Ireland is to give us linen [for a wedding present] and have asked whether it should be embroidered or not. They have been told not. I am glad as it is a bore to wake up with a coronet impressed on one’s cheek!”

Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters continues in the House until 1 September 2019.

Nurturing students through volunteering

Whilst we celebrated National Volunteer Week last week, one of the most positive stories to come out of this year is that for the first time we welcomed four students from the University of Leeds, who then went on to gain full time employment at Harewood.

Students Lucy, Rachel, Emma and Hannah all came to Harewood for different reasons. They are now fully employed members of the Visitor Experience team for the season and we are delighted to have them on board and with such knowledge of Harewood already.

Lucy Bowley studied Fine Art at the University of Leeds. She joined us after a university trip to Harewood. She started as a Room Steward.
“I volunteered in the house. I loved chatting to visitors from around the world and sharing the interesting facts about each room. I’m now a Visitor Experience Team Member.”

Rachel Tonks was on her third year of studying Fine Art with History of Art, when she started as a volunteer. She explains that being a volunteer at Harewood House was a good way for her to join her interest for Country Houses and Heritage with her job, while learning more about it.
“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to learn in detail about the house and it felt good to be a part of giving visitors an experience of Harewood that was meaningful and interactive.”

Emma Hunt Shelley is a Classics student who came as a volunteer Room Steward over Christmas.
“I would encourage everyone to volunteer because I really feel that it gave me a once in a lifetime opportunity to work in a place like Harewood and continues to do so every day that I go into work!”

Hannah Lee Hargreaves was in her last year at the University of Leeds when she attended a volunteer open day at Harewood.
“I fell in love with the place, and became a volunteer Room Steward over the Christmas period, allowing me to learn more about the history of the house and the estate. “

These students are a good example of how being a volunteer can lead to a job. We are continually looking for new faces to join our team, you can find out more information online

Re-imagining Rugs – a short film

Together with the Crafts Council, we co-produced a series of short films about our current exhibition, Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters. Here’s the second in the series.

Rugs made from hand-dyed locally sourced wool, surplus from the carpet trade, dyed with natural matter from Harewood, oh and created by an artisan local rug maker…

For the first Harewood Biennial, designer Max Lamb – known for his experimental and imaginative use of materials – gathered 50kg of vegetation from around Harewood. The random surface patterns and unusual shapes contrast with the classical lines of the Yellow Drawing Room, originally design by Robert Adam.

Tell us what you think of this short film…

 

From budgets to birds, shadowing volunteers during National Volunteer Week

This week saw National Volunteer Week celebrated far and wide at Harewood House Trust, as we aimed to showcase many of our diverse and vibrant volunteers each day, both online and across the House and gardens.

As part of the celebrations, a number of staff from the administrative offices chose to donate their time to shadow a volunteer and learn more about a different department, whilst making new friends of course.

From Director of Finance, Martin Horbury, chopping up fruit for the birds in the Bird Garden, to other Executive team members Hannah Obee and Edward Appleyard driving the shuttlebus, it was an engaging and enjoyable week for those who took part.

Comments included; “There were over 50 different varieties of meal preparations for the birds in the morning, each bird getting their special diet, and it was so impressive to see the team reel off exactly what each bird was having by sight. I’d have happily eaten some of those dishes, if it wasn’t for the mealworms.”

“I particularly like the contrast between the modern and old art which gives a great ambiance to the House.” 

With a Volunteer Open Day to recruit potential new volunteers also, it has been a high energy and great tribute to Harewood’s army of volunteers this National Volunteer Week.

If you are interested to find out more volunteer@harewood.org

Volunteer Margaret – Room Guide

As part of National Volunteer Week, we’re celebrating the many interesting and valuable characters who contribute to making Harewood the place that it is….

Why do I volunteer?

I volunteer because I enjoy meeting people.

What brought me to it?

After being retired a while I wanted to do something different and enjoyed Historical Houses.

What did I do?

Financial Controller

What three things do I enjoy?

Meeting different types of people
By sharing the history of the house and its contents hopefully making it more enjoyable for visitors
The friendship of staff and other volunteers.

What do I love most about Harewood?

What I love most in the house are the ceilings and its contents.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact volunteer@harewood.org