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My Christmas – Edward Appleyard, Head of Marketing & Communications

Harewood_House_ChristmasBlogContinuing our behind the scenes series of those working at Harewood House Trust, here’s an insight into the festive season for Christmas-lover Edward.

What is your earliest Christmas memory?
Christmas 1988. My sister opening her big present which was a pram disguised as best as any one could disguise a pram in metres of wrapping paper. I really believed Father Christmas had been!

Do you have a Christmas tradition?
I’ve recently taken on my Mum’s baton of Christmas Cake Baker… I don’t do mine the same way she does hers, but doing it at all feels like we’re carrying on with family traditions. And all my Christmas dinner skills have been passed down from her too! I like to go to Nine Lessons and Carols, which really kicks off Christmas for me (which, FYI, is from about the week before at the earliest until after the 12 days!!).

And no, Yorkshire puddings are NOT an acceptable Christmas dinner accompaniment. No, no, no.

Is there a period of history you would have liked to spend Christmas in?
Well that depends on whether I was rich, middle class or just poor at the time! But I’d probably like to be an adult at the time of my Christmases as a child.

What music gets you in a festive mood?
Hmmmmm #guiltypleasures
Aside from the aforementioned carolling, my most played Christmas tracks (whilst doing another of my favourite past times, wrapping presents!) on iTunes are probably Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses), Step into Christmas (Elton), This Christmas (Mary J Blige) and ultimate Christmas karaoke track goes to…

Once Upon a Christmas Song by Peter Kay (as Geraldine) and Gary Barlow!! (I know… appalling choices).

What’s the nicest gift you have been bought?
I’ve been very lucky, there have been many…

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My Christmas – Nick Dowling, Bird Garden Manager

NickBirdGardenBlog1.What is your earliest Christmas memory?

My earliest Christmas memory was looking at the presents under the tree and wondering which one was mine. My cousin (who could read) told me that a red lumpy oblong shaped one had my name on it and from then until Christmas Day I would pick it up and try to guess what it was. It felt like months until I was actually allowed to open it! I can remember the scent of the wrapping paper, but I can’t actually remember what the present actually was!

Another early memory was helping my Granddad put real candles onto the real Christmas tree and then lighting them. All the candles were top heavy and wonky in their holders- even then I remembered thinking what a fire hazard it was.

2. Do you have any specific Christmas traditions?

The tree goes up on 1st of December and that’s when I get the Christmas CD out for the drive to work. We aim to watch Elf, Home Alone 1 & 2, Love Actually and TV Christmas specials such as Gavin & Stacey and the Office. We also do Elf on the Shelf for our little boy and try to create more elaborate situations as Christmas Eve gets closer. On Christmas Day we normally go to see family for lunch.

During my career I have worked Christmas Day a lot of the time, as of course the birds will still be relying on us for their Christmas dinner of seeds, fruit, vegetables, mealworms, nuts, fish, meat and pellets among other things. It’s always a nice atmosphere at work as we have lots of Christmas goodies in our mess room and we have the run of Harewood to ourselves, apart from the security team of course!

3. Which period from history would you have liked to celebrate Christmas in?

I would have liked to celebrate Christmas in the Dickensian period, although it probably wouldn’t have been as fun as it looked on The Muppets!
I also would have liked to have been a bit older in the 1980’s so I could remember it better- it was a great era for Christmas songs and the presents always seemed cooler.

4. What’s the piece of music that gets you in the festive mood?

Usually its ‘Don’t Let The Bells End’ by The Darkness, although when we were frantically cleaning the Bird Garden kitchen at 7pm recently, prior to an upcoming Zoo licensing inspection, Shakin’ Stevens came on the radio which was the first Christmas song I’d heard this year and that gave me a bit of a boost as I mopped the floor.

5. What’s the nicest gift that someone has offered you / you have given?

The nicest gift I have given was a marriage proposal and the nicest gift I have received was being accepted….. or a book on pheasants, partridges and grouse!

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Christmas TV Programme Filmed at Harewood

MaryBerryShowtimeChristmas just got an extra sparkle as we reveal ‘Mary Berry’s Country House at Christmas’ was filmed here. The one-hour programme, which will air on BBC Two in December, is one of the highlights of the BBC’s Christmas season.

It features stories from across Harewood, including tales from the House and gardens and the focus of this year’s 1929 Christmas Eve story. The traditions from past and present are woven together with scenes of Mary cooking in the copper-pan adorned Below Stairs kitchen, with recipes including traditional Twelfth Cake and Yorkshire Pie.

The crew filmed for two weeks at the beginning of November when Harewood was closed to the public. Stories expected to be featured across the episode range from the Walled Garden to the Private Apartments and incorporate some of the talented and generous Harewood volunteers spending time with Mary whilst they make wreaths for the House and decorate gingerbread that will play a role in the setting for visitors.

David Lascelles, Earl of Harewood and Chair of the Board of Trustees, also took Mary on a wider tour of the Harewood Estate, bringing the family’s history to life.

Jane Marriott, Harewood House Trust Director, said;
“We had two wonderful weeks with Mary Berry and the crew, whilst they explored the many stories at Harewood. Christmas in the 1920s, is one of these unique stories, which we have brought to life, in an enchanting and magical way, created especially for us by Simon Costin. Continuing our ambition to work with the best Artistic Directors in this country, we are delighted to now have the opportunity to broadcast this nationwide and to share the traditions of Christmas at Harewood, through the eyes of two little boys in the 1920s, celebrated in Mary Berry’s programme.”

Follow Harewood on social media to keep up to date with the latest stories and transmission date for the programme.


My Christmas – General Manager, Natalie Holmes


Here’s the very marvellous Natalie Holmes, talking about Christmas. Natalie’s role encompasses many areas of Harewood, including running the outlets of the kiosk and the Horse Box, and presenting this year’s festive treats.

1.What is your earliest Christmas memory?

Waking up on Christmas Day aged about four and running downstairs to find presents that were as high as the windowsill. We were always allowed to open one present before my Nana and Grandad arrived. Me and my two brothers would always sit as close as we could to the tree to see if we could see which presents were ours.

2. Do you have any specific Christmas traditions?

Breakfast Pie. Made by my Dad on Christmas Eve to eat on Christmas morning. It’s a full English Breakfast….in a pie!

3. Which period from history would you have liked to celebrate Christmas in?

I’d go back to the 80’s

4. What’s the piece of music that gets you in the festive mood?

Elton John, Step into Christmas

5. What’s the nicest gift that someone has offered you / you have given?

Every year my boyfriend’s mum makes us a hamper, the theme varies every year. It’s the present I spend most time unwrapping every item to see what it is….. anything food-related keeps me happy.

Keep up to date on more stories from Harewood, by following us on social media… @harewoodhouse