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Megan Jones

Tender Opportunity – Conservation Contractor

Harewood House is in the distance on the left of the photo, with a large oak tree visible to the right. The sky is beautiful and dusky.

Harewood House Trust is undertaking a phased programme of conservation to the house’s historic fabric, which currently threatens the safety of the decorative schemes and art collections within. The project will repair windows and roof lanterns on the house, and masonry to the terrace masonry, which is causing water ingress and damage within. The project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

A tender opportunity has arisen for a contractor to undertake this work in 2023. Interested contractors will have experience of working on historic buildings and have a track record that demonstrates they work closely with clients and are sensitive to their requirements.

The Trust is also looking at several construction projects over the next few years.

Interested contractors are required to send an expression of interest in the first instance to dave@wdaprojects.co.uk.

Q&A with Senior Gardener India Sida-Murray

It’s #NationalGardeningWeek so we sat down with our Senior Gardener India Sida-Murray to chat all things gardens, from top tips to first memories. 

What’s your favourite garden at Harewood ?

My favourite part of the garden has got to the Walled Garden because I spend so much of my time there. There are so many parts of it to explore and every season brings a new delight to see. We have delicate snake’s-head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) coming up in the orchard at the moment and the new-season hop shoots are making an appearance. There’s radish going in the vegetable plots and wild flower seeds germinating in the meadow. It is teaming with spring growth and I cannot wait to see it all verdant and buzzing again.

What’s your favourite time of year in the gardens ?
That’s a difficult one for a gardener because every new season is my favourite. The excitement of spring with the waft of fresh green growth in the chilly morning air, which warms during the day to newly mown grass. The abundance of summer brings gluts to vegetables and luscious full buckets of flowers. The soil is teaming with activity and the garden is full of visitors. Late summer into Autumn has such a romantic feel here. We enjoy the last of the vibrant colours as the garden comes to a magnificent crescendo. The final flourish of glowing Autumn tones reflects over the lake as if it is on fire and the migrating birds dance upon it before their final flight. Winter, most surprisingly, is our busiest time as a team. We work hard to prepare the garden for the coming year and many hours are spent reflecting and plotting for the future. While the garden sleeps we are full of excitement and anticipation, in the hopes that our careful planning and ambitions for the next season come to fruition.

What’s the best gardening tip you’ve ever received ?
You can’t grow everything all at once. It is very tempting to order everything in the catalogue you want to grow and get overwhelmed. Choose a few new things each year so you can spend the time really looking and understanding your new plants, as well as feeling confident at the ones you have already mastered. This is how you develop your craft; observation, patience and practice.

What are your first memories of gardening?
My parents took us to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight every year when I was small. Queen Victoria had nine children and each one had their own vegetable plot and set of tools with their initials engraved. I also come from a big family and this was so thrilling to me as a child. I have fond memories of my mother lifting our big perambulator onto the horse and cart that took you down to Swiss Cottage and the children’s gardens there. I was lucky enough to eventually work at Osborne and the feeling of excitement and kinship never wore off.

What advice would you give to a new gardener?
Keep going. If seeds don’t germinate, sow again. If a plant is sulking in a particular spot, then move it. If the rabbits eat it all, try another tact. So much of being a gardener and in fact gardening itself is about promise. It’s making plans for future days, for a future you, for a future garden. Don’t be put off by failures, just keep going and eventually you will look back and be amazed by what you have accomplished.

Q&A with Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson

Trevor Nicholson, Head Gardener at Harewood House

It’s #NationalGardeningWeek so we sat down with our Head Gardener Trevor Nicholson to chat all things gardens, from top tips to first memories.

What’s your favourite garden at Harewood ?
That’s a difficult one! I love all the gardens at Harewood, the Terrace gardens with the magnificent Italian parterre, stunning flower borders, fountains, and the huge sub-tropical border; the Walled Garden with its fantastic productive kitchen garden, hops, orchard, meadow and lovely herbaceous borders; and of course, the amazing Himalayan Garden with the beautiful waterfall, gorge, rock garden and wonderful drifts of primulas, rhododendrons, trees and shrubs. Restoring and developing each of these gardens has been a huge part of my life over the past 30 years. If I had to pick a favourite then it would have to be the Himalayan Garden, because I love plants, mountains, and wild places, and it reminds me of all the incredible wild places I’ve explored in China and the Himalayas and the wonderful native plants I found there.

What’s your favourite time of year in the gardens ?
Springtime, especially April and May when all the amazing rhododendrons come into flower around the beautiful lakeside, and when so many trees are flowering then. I love the fresh green of young oak leaves and seeing the oak apples starting to blush; and of course, who doesn’t adore the swathes of bluebells in the woods at Harewood? Spring is also when we sow our seeds and get plants in the ground too, so it’s an incredibly busy time for all gardeners.

What’s the best gardening tip you’ve ever received?
Gosh! There are so many. If I hadn’t taken sound advice from so many wonderful people, I wouldn’t be where I am now. We follow ‘no-dig’ practices in the Walled Garden now, but we used to sow vegetable seed directly onto the ground in carefully prepared seed drills. The soil at Harewood contains tiny clay particles, so after it rained the soil would develop a thin crust on top as it dried called a ‘cap’ which can stunt or distort seedlings as they try to push through the crust. To avoid problems from the soil ‘capping’ over the seedlings, my old tutor advised me to lightly cover the seeds in the drills with sieved potting compost mixed with sand. No capping. No distortion. Genius!

What are your first memories of gardening?
My dad was a gardener and so was his. Being from the north, gardening was big in our family, but not the posh, showy kind of gardening, it was allotment gardening, the proper kind where growing food in whatever space you had was the absolute norm throughout my formative years. We cooked and ate all the vegetables we grew and composted all the green waste. All our neighbours did it. We lived in a row of old railway workers’ cottages next to a disused railway, where the embankments had been turned into allotments by the locals for growing food. Weeding – between rows of leeks or onions or carrots – was just what you were expected to do as a kid. In the holidays we used to visit local gardens and parks. I can’t remember a time when gardening wasn’t part of my life.

What advice would you give to a new gardener?
My advice would definitely be to join a network of gardeners, such as the Professional Gardeners’ Guild or the Walled Kitchen Gardens Network, or your regional Gardens Trust etc. You will not only find genuinely kind and helpful people, but you will also have the opportunity of joining organised visits all over the country to some fantastic gardens and behind-the-scenes tours of some amazing projects. You’ll learn from seasoned professionals who are more than willing to share their advice. Follow your interests too, there are some wonderful plant societies out there, which are run by very knowledgeable people.


Rachel Crewes, CEO outside on the Terrace at Harewood

Rachel Crewes, CEO. Photo credit Tom Arber.


Harewood House Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Rachel Crewes as their new CEO.

With over twenty years’ experience working across the wider arts, heritage and museum sector, Rachel has gained wide-ranging and diverse experience, giving her an invaluable insight into the industry’s opportunities and challenges. With recent experience in senior leadership in commercial roles at Harewood, the Hepworth Wakefield and the Science Museum Group, she has been working as Interim Co-Director at Harewood since the beginning of 2023.

Rachel joined Harewood House Trust in 2018 to help re-imagine the concept of the country house in the 21st century and grow earned income to help sustain the work of the Trust. As Commercial Director, she headed up the organisation’s trading income, increasing income by over 50% across several areas, from major outdoor events, venue hire, retail, filming, catering and commercial engagement. As part of Harewood’s executive team, she has made a significant contribution to the charity’s bold artistic programme and vision for engaging with Harewood’s diverse communities.

Prior to Harewood, Rachel held the roles of Head of Business Development at The Hepworth Wakefield (Museum of the Year 2017); Head of Events + Catering for the Science Museum Group (North); Commercial General Manager and Development Officer, at the Millennium Project, Magna Science Adventure Centre.

On her appointment, Rachel Crewes, CEO said:

‘I’m honoured to have been chosen to be the new Chief Executive at Harewood House Trust, and to lead the organisation through its next chapter. I have thoroughly enjoyed the last five years heading up the successful commercial arm of the organisation. I now look forward to the irresistible opportunity of not only running such as beautiful historic house and gardens and welcoming 300,000 visitors a year, but also the unique chance to re-imagine what makes it relevant in the 21st century.

I’m confident that with the help of our exceptional staff, trustees and supporters, we are well placed to face the many opportunities ahead and I relish the chance of continuing to make Harewood ever dynamic and resilient. I’m committed to further developing this incredible charity to be widely recognised as a leading cultural centre that meaningfully serves its community. With some very exciting developments in the pipeline and continued commitment to innovative programming, there couldn’t be a better time to be at the helm.’

Emily Shard, Chair of Harewood House Trust comments:

‘Throughout the rigorous application process, Rachel impressed the selection panel with her integrity, dedication, and knowledge of Harewood. There is no doubt that she will hit the ground running to ensure that our ambitions are raised, the challenges acknowledged and that the superpowers of our amazing Harewood House Trust team continue to be harnessed as we look forward and build on our success.

Competition for the role was significant and the Trustee panel are delighted to be able to offer the job to a candidate that understands, and has the skills to deliver, the vision and values we share for Harewood.  With Rachel at the helm, we have the wonderful, and unusual, combination of continuity and change to lead Harewood House Trust into the future.’

Harewood Trustee and member of the selection panel Andrea Nixon MBE adds:

‘The panel were impressed at Rachel’s breadth and depth of experience in a very competitive field and above all for her passion for Harewood and what we stand for. We are very confident she will lead us to the next exciting stage for the charity.’

Harewood continues its bold programming for 2023, with new exhibition Reframing Reynolds in March and Missing Portraits: David Harewood in September, a brand-new family-friendly programme and a number of large-scale events for everyone to enjoy across the year.


David Harewood, photo credit The Harper Edit

Harewood House announces a new commission in the Missing Portraits series, with a portrait of actor and writer David Harewood OBE.

6 March 2023, Leeds. This year, Harewood House continues its Open History programme with a newly commissioned portrait of actor David Harewood OBE. The portrait is part of the Missing Portraits series which launched in 2022 and addresses the lack of diverse representation within Harewood’s historic art collection. The specially commissioned portrait will be accompanied by an exhibition exploring David Harewood’s life and celebrating his career, including his role as an ambassador for mental health awareness and racial equality.

The Missing Portraits series seeks to redress the balance of portraits in the house by depicting contemporary sitters of African-Caribbean heritage who have connections to Harewood and the Lascelles family. Born in 1965 to Barbadian parents who arrived in Britain in 1957, David Harewood was raised in Birmingham and began his career as a film and stage actor in 1990. The actor is descended from individuals who were enslaved in the 18th-century on a Caribbean sugar plantation owned by the 2nd Earl of Harewood.

David Harewood has had a long relationship with Harewood House. In 2021, David visited the House as part of a Channel 5 series 1000 Years a Slave, in which he met with David Lascelles, 8th Earl of Harewood, to discuss both his and the House’s historic roots. The portrait, inspired by the formal style of 18th and 19th portraiture, will be displayed as part of the permanent collection and is produced by Leeds-based photographer and filmmaker Ashley Karrell.

In alliance with David Harewood’s campaigns around social justice and mental health, Harewood House is developing a wider programme towards building confidence and resilience in young people from diverse backgrounds across Leeds. Harewood House will be hosting an in-conversation event where David Harewood will discuss his recent book Maybe I Don’t Belong Here: A Memoir of Race, Identity, Breakdown and Recovery, published in 2021.

David Harewood OBE comments:

“To have my portrait presented at Harewood House brings on many complex emotions. It is a day that is well overdue for me and my ancestors, a day that sees their efforts and hard work finally acknowledged. I am pleased that we have reached a point when this can happen and I hope it might encourage positive change elsewhere.”

David Lascelles and Diane Howse, Earl and Countess of Harewood, comment:

“We’re delighted that David has agreed to be the second sitter in the Missing Portraits series. His links to Harewood are self-evident and we agree on the importance of sharing our histories, however uncomfortable this might first appear. Being honest about the past is the only way to start to address the prejudices of the present and help build a better future.”

Missing Portraits is part of Open History, an ongoing commitment to promoting and celebrating equality, diversity and inclusion, and to combating racism. Harewood’s programme engages Harewood’s audiences by tackling urgent contemporary issues, working with artists to encourage understanding, celebrate diversity and explore Harewood’s colonial past. The first portrait in this series was of Dr Arthur France OBE, founder of Leeds West Indian Carnival. This was displayed in a special exhibition at Harewood, before becoming part of the House’s permanent collection. Harewood House partnered with Intelligence2 to host an in-person conversation exploring the power of portraiture in representing Britain’s history. Panellists Dr Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, journalist Moya Lothian-McLean, artist Thomas J Price, and David Lascelles discussed the importance of portraiture and its power in representing Britain’s complex history. The conversation was chaired by chaired by author Yassmin Abdel-Magied. To listen to a recording of the event, please click here.


Notes to editors:
For further press information on Harewood, please contact:
Brunswick Arts | Imogen Walford & Tom Smeeton
Harewood@brunswickgroup.com | + 44 (0)7467 650396

Harewood Open History aims to open-up stories about our heritage, celebrating people of colour who have deep-rooted links to Harewood. The series is part of an effort to better reflect and understand the history of Harewood, which was built upon the vast fortune made by Henry Lascelles through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Harewood acknowledges the roots of its wealth and seeks to address the historic lack of diversity within its art collection. In support of these aims, Harewood works with artists from diverse backgrounds in order that we can use our past and its platform now to talk and open-up conversation about inclusion, representation and equality in society today.

Harewood House Trust is an independent educational charity that constantly re-imagines what makes a historic house and its landscape relevant in the 21st century, by provoking different perspectives and conversations on its history, landscape and collections, as a place that can enrich all our lives, responsible for conserving it for the future. The Trust and the Lascelles family have been at the forefront of acknowledging the estate’s colonial past for over 25 years. This commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and to combating racism, remains stronger than ever and is central to the Trust’s programming aims, as well as to its staff and volunteers, and working with the communities in and around Leeds.

David Harewood OBE is an actor, director, author and activist. With a career spanning almost 35 years, David has performed on stage in some of the most prestigious theatres and across TV and Film, including award-winning TV series and films Homeland, Blood Diamond, The Night Manager, and appearing as Othello at the National Theatre. David has become a driving force for systematic and cultural change, exploring important and difficult subjects within his documentaries, such as ‘David Harewood: Psychosis and Me’, ‘Could Britian Ever Have a Black Prime Minister’, and ‘Why is Covid Killing People of Colour?’. David has worked with global charity UNICEF and helped raise awareness as well as millions of pounds for many charities, organisations and individuals across our collective global communities. King Charles III awarded David an OBE in his first New Year Honours of 2023 for his services to drama and charity.

David Lascelles and Diane House, Earl and Countess of Harewood, are committed to speaking openly and honestly about the historic source of the wealth that built Harewood and to encouraging relationships with a range of artists to explore, challenge and discuss its legacy. Artists they have previously worked with include Geraldine Connor and her ground-breaking theatrical spectacular Carnival Messiah, sculptors Sokari Douglas Camp and Thomas J Price, glass artist Chris Day and Sonia Boyce, winner of the Golden Lion prize at the 2022 Venice Biennale.

Ashley Karrell is an award-winning director, photographer, film and theatre-maker with a career spanning 20 years. He has produced a broad spectrum of work that includes visual art, commercial and experimental video productions and mass participation pieces. Karrell graduated from the Northern Film School in 2005 and is now the director of the production company Panoptical and Expression Of You CIC, where he delivers large and small-scale productions at public exhibitions, events and festivals, and pursues work, which explores ideas of community, is socially engaging and internationally-minded. His name is well known for the film and documentary of Geraldine Connor’s epic masterpiece Carnival Messiah, which debuted at the Leeds International Film Festival 2017. Its West Indies premier was at the Film Festival in Trinidad in September 2018, where it won the People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary. MISSING PORTRAITS: David Harewood OBE