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World Book Day – Sharing Stories from Harewood’s Libraries

This World Book Day, we wanted to share some stories from the books that call the libraries at Harewood their home. There are more than 10,000 books held within the 3 libraries – Main, Spanish and Old Library- at Harewood, collected by every generation of the Lascelles family and covering a range of different genres. From Classic Literature to Zoology, the libraries aren’t short of a story to tell ! 

 

Classic Literature – Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray, 1869.

Vanity Fair is a novel by the English author William Makepeace Thackeray. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, the story follows the inter-linked lives of two women – the quick-witted Becky Sharp and the naïve Emmy Sedley – who both attempt to make their way in British society.

The novel’s title, Vanity Fair, references a fictional town named ‘Vanity’ in John Bunyon’s Pilgrim’s Process, which hosted a never-ending fair representing the sin of materialistic attachment. Thackeray’s narrative is framed as a puppet show taking place at this fair.

Vanity Fair’s subtitle, A Novel without a Hero, reflects the novel’s flawed characters and its satirisation of British society.

Vanity Fair book on bookcase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanity Fair was first published between 1847-1848 as a 19 volume serial – a popular method of publishing novels at the time. It was also illustrated with Thackeray’s own drawings.

The book was the first to be published under Thackeray’s real name, the author often choosing to use comic pseudonyms, such as George Savage Fitz-Boodle and Michael Angelo Titmarsh.

There are a number of Thackeray’s works in the libraries at Harewood, suggesting he was a popular author with the Lascelles family. This two-volume edition of Vanity Fair, published by Smith, Elder &Co. in 1869, belonged to the 5th Earl of Harewood.

 

Art and Design – The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, Thomas Chippendale, 1755.

The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, published in 1754 by the Yorkshire-born cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale, was the first comprehensive catalogue dedicated to the design and production of furniture. It contained 160 engraved designs for a range of household furniture in a variety of styles. It enabled clients to order straight from the book or mix and match ideas to create something new.

The Director had widespread appeal and was an instant success. Not only did the book launch Chippendale’s professional reputation and generate trade, but it also played a key role in securing Chippendale’s design legacy around the world, with copies reaching as far as Russia and America.

Harewood’s copy of the Director is a 2nd edition, published in 1755. It contains the bookplate of the 1st Earl of Harewood, though it’s possible it may have belonged to Edwin Lascelles, builder of Harewood House and patron of Chippendale’s most lucrative commission.
This copy was re-bound in the 20th century by the high-end book binding firm Riviere & Sons, decorated with tooled and gilt decoration on the spine.

 

Horticulture and Landscape Design – Botany for Ladies, Jane Loudon, 1842

Botany for Ladies was written by Jane Loudon, an English author who was a pioneer of both popular gardening manuals and science fiction.

Loudon’s first book, The Mummy, published anonymously in 1827, was a fictional account of living in Britain in the 22nd century and explored ideas around future technology. It caught the attention of John Claudius Loudon, a leading horticultural writer, whom Jane went on to marry.

After her marriage, Jane became fascinated with her husband’s field of horticulture, helping him with his research and publications. She realised that the highly technical language used in gardening manuals of the day was off-putting to women who might not have been taught much, if any, science as part of their education, and set about writing her own.

Becoming known as the ‘Mrs Beeton of the garden world’, Jane produced books that were precise and correct in content, written in an anecdotal style that was easy to follow.  The opening remark in Botany for Ladies (1842) reads: ‘The following pages are intended to enable my readers to acquire knowledge of Botany with as little trouble to themselves as possible.’

Her popular books helped thousands of women across the country to learn more about, and enjoy, gardening as a hobby. Jane was a self-taught artist and illustrated her own books.

There are a number of Jane Loudon’s gardening manuals in the libraries at Harewood, alongside works by her husband, though not, unfortunately, The Mummy.

 

Ornithology and Zoology – British Zoology, Thomas Pennant, 1776.

Thomas Pennant was a Welsh naturalist and travel writer. British Zoology was one of his first publications, forming a comprehensive study of animals across the British Isles.

It contained information on quadrupeds, birds, reptiles and fish, and was accompanied by over 100 colour illustrations. The work also included an appendix analysing and notating bird song.

British Zoology was first published in two volumes between 1766 and 1767 in folio form. Due to the inclusion of many expensive large-scale illustrations, the book was not a commercial success, however it was well received by fellow naturalists and earned Pennant a position as a fellow of the Royal Society.

 

Harewood’s copy of British Zoology is a later 4th edition, in a smaller ‘quarto’ format, which would have been less expensive to produce. It is still, however, very well illustrated with engravings. Thomas Pennant travelled around Britain with the artist Moses Griffiths, whose sketches were often used to accompany his observations.

Pennant was also a travel-writer and made notes about numerous tours taken across Britain, one of which included a visit to Harewood. Although he saw promise in Harewood’s landscape, the House was not to his taste, which was ‘fitted up with a profusion of expense and ornamental gilding…calculated for parade more than comfort’.

 

History and Geography – A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, Captain James Cook and Captain James King, 1784

Published five years after his death, A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean gave an official account of Captain James Cook’s third and last voyage to the Pacific between 1776-1779.

On this voyage, it had been Cook’s mission to discover a shorter sea route for trade between Britain and the Pacific. It’s true purpose however, was concealed under the guise of returning the Polynesian, Omai, back to the island Raiatea, who had travelled with Cook to England two years. Omai had been presented to British society and even had his portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

As a Captain of the Royal Navy, Cook spent a total of 12 years exploring the Pacific on three separate voyages. He is credited with making the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian islands, as well as the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. Cook was killed in Hawaii in 1779 after attempting to kidnap the local ruler, Kalaniʻōpuʻu.

This book, based on Cook’s own journals, was so popular that the first edition sold out within three days. It contains several engraved plates and maps, illustrating the type of terrain encountered on his voyage as well as local individuals and animals.

 

The books within Harewood’s libraries are cared for by an independent charity. Whilst the house was forced to remain closed to visitors during the pandemic, our work to conserve these treasured objects never stopped. By Adopting a Book today you can help support the work of our Collections Care team, ensuring these books, and the many more items in our care, can continue to be shared when we are allowed to re-open, for the long-term benefit of the public.

The Harewood Bees

In this month’s guest blog, Harewood Food and Drink Project take us through the important role that bees have to play in our ecosystem and creating a regenerative environment at Harewood, as well as introducing us to Beekeeper Martyn, who keeps bees on the Estate and produces Harewood honey, which features in many a HF&DP dish.

Why are bees important?

We have a number of schemes in place to encourage a strong presence of bees, which helps to create a healthy, rich ecosystem encouraging biodiversity and a balanced habitat where a wide range of species can thrive alongside one another. Creating incredible food experiences that work in harmony, or to the benefit of, the local environment, has always been one of the key cornerstones of HF & DP.

Bees play a vital role in our food chain, as they pollinate a significant proportion of the food crops that we consume. Many of our everyday favourite food and drink items rely on pollination by bees, including many ingredients that can be found on site at Harewood; tomatoes, strawberries, figs, blackberries, mulberries and raspberries to name a few, all rely on bee’s activity. Other global everyday favourites include avocados, coffee, chocolate, grapes, i.e. wine.

The Harewood Bees  

A couple of years ago we were approached by Martyn, after he’d attended one of our events. He asked if he could keep his hives on Estate land. In exchange, a couple of times a year, he’d drop a box of honey jars off to the estate office for us to use as we wish, usually around 50 jars. For HF & DP there’s nothing that inspires us more than meeting those who are masters of their craft. Martyn’s knowledge, dedication, care and love for his hives acts as a reminder of why we love what we do and how inspiring our surroundings are.

We sell the honey with 100% of proceeds being put towards buying wild flower seeds which we plant close to the hives. Planting a variety of bee friendly wild flowers helps to improve the health of the bee colony, enhances the flavour and yield of the honey and helps to create a richer, more balanced and biodiverse ecosystem here at Harewood.

We have a number of other schemes in place across the estate to encourage a thriving bee population; through the preservation of orchards, planting of 25 hectares of flower rich margins on our arable farms and we’ve adopted a 3-year hedge cutting regime to maximise flowers and blossom.

The Taste of Harewood

Since we set up HF & DP, we’ve been trying to answer the question “What does Harewood taste like?”. It’s possible that Martyn’s honey is the purest representation that we’ve found yet, or indeed, probably ever will.

A honey bee hive requires several hectares of flower rich habitat for it to thrive. The location of Martyn’s hives means that the bee colony will gather pollen from all over Harewood’s landscape, from a wide range of flowers, before returning to the hives.

When Martyn harvests his honey, we end up with 100% pure honey. This means that absolutely nothing is added, exactly as nature intended.

Each batch, even each hive, will have its own unique flavour, never to be replicated, dependent upon what’s flowering and in season and what crops are growing nearby. If you’re one of the lucky few who manage to get a jar, let us know what flavour profiles you can pick out, tell us, what does Harewood taste like?

Whenever a new batch of honey arrives, Josh and our kitchen team will eagerly start writing menus and dishes using Harewood honey, inspired by it’s incredible flavour and provenance.

A big thank you to Martyn for allowing us to tell his story and to Claire McClean for the photos.

Josh Whitehead’s Honeycomb Recipe

Honeycomb is a great addition to many different puddings, giving sweetness and crunchy texture. Break it up and use to garnish ice cream, cake or chocolate. It’s also delicious half dipped in melted chocolate and left to set as a homemade Crunchie bar!

Ingredients

  • 320g Caster Sugar
  • 130g Honey (Ideally Harewood Honey, but a good quality runny or wildflower honey will also be fine)
  • 360g Glucose Syrup
  • 80g Water
  • 50g Bicarbonate of Soda, Sifted

Begin by adding all of the ingredients, bar the bicarb, in to a heavy based tall saucepan with the honey, water and glucose on the base of the pan.

Lightly grease a metal container and put to one side.

Heat the mixture on a low heat, gently stirring with a whisk until combined, then increase to medium high. Cook the mixture until it reaches 148 degrees on a food thermometer.

Take of the heat and vigorously whisk in the bicarbonate of soda for two seconds to mix well, then, being very careful as the mixture will be very hot, pour into the greased container and leave to set. At this point it’s very important not to aggravate the honeycomb as it can collapse, leave it to set at room temperature for one hour, not shaking or moving the tray.

Now you have the perfect addition to enhance any dessert !

 

 

The doors may be closed, but the work continues in the House…

Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes whilst the house is closed?

Winter is one of the busiest times of the year for the collections team. Every year when the house is closed to the public we undertake much of our annual deep clean. This year is no exception, as despite only being able to open the house for a short period in 2020, the collections and the house itself still require essential checking and cleaning. As an Accredited Museum with a designated collection we need to constantly monitor for any signs of damage or deterioration.

Each room is cleaned from top to bottom using conservation brushes and special vacuum cleaners; we even have our own scaffold tower so we can reach the ceilings. The collections care team are specially trained to use these and while they are cleaning they check for any signs of deterioration or pest activity. Some areas such as ceilings and curtain pelmets are done on a rolling programme as they don’t get as dusty as the areas lower down and we don’t want to cause damage by over-cleaning. We begin with the East Side of the house before Christmas and once the decorations come down it’s time to start in the rooms on the West Side.

 

The before and after… a half-cleaned mirror !

Each object in the room is also checked and cleaned using specialist equipment. Usually we would undertake this work with the help of a team of skilled volunteers but in order to ensure we are working within Covid guidelines we have had to stand them down this year and the staff are keeping socially distant.

This year we’ve also been undertaking an inventory audit and making sure that all the objects are marked with their own unique number. Each mark is made in a specific way so it doesn’t damage the object. It’s best to do this type of work at the same time as the cleaning so we only handle the object once, reducing the risk of accidental damage.

Here we have been cleaning a pelmet so have taken the opportunity to sew on a label at the same time.

During the lockdown we also need to be on site to keep an eye out for any leaks, monitor the environment and to regularly check for pests throughout the house including the attics.

There are a number insects which would enjoy munching their way through the collections if we let them, woodworm and carpet beetle are the most widespread across museums and historic houses. They like organic materials, particularly wood and textiles which make up most of the collections.

Introduction to The Harewood Food & Drink Project

Since March 2020, our friends the Harewood Food and Drink Project have been running the Courtyard and Terrace Cafés, serving up delicious seasonal and local food. Food is synonymous with Harewood House, a place where a fully working Walled Garden has provided fresh produce to the local community and further afield for hundreds of years, including during two wartimes. In this first blog of a new series, Director Eddy Lascelles takes us through the ethos of HFDP, their work at Harewood House and what you can expect from future blogs from Eddy, Executive Chef Josh Whitehead, and other members of the HFDP team – look out for highlights of the season, foodie facts, cooking tips, recipes and more. 

 

Harewood’s Highland Cattle and Cyril the pig. Photo by Claire McClean

Harewood Food and Drink Project at Harewood House

Harewood Food and Drink Project works closely with Harewood House Trust’s Head Gardener, Trevor Nicholson, and his Walled Garden team, ensuring that we use as much of what’s grown on site as possible. By working closely together, we create circular economies where possible, ensuring that we’re minimising the environmental impact of what you eat when you’re on site. For example, composting raw food waste and repurposing other waste items to enrich the health of the soil, improve Harewood’s habitat and create better growing conditions.  Working with Trevor and his team is one of the great joys of our job. His knowledge and passion can’t help but inspire you. Knowing the thought, skill and work that goes in to growing our fruit and vegetables, is the greatest motivation our team of chefs could have to make sure we do these beautiful products justice when they reach your plates.

The Harewood Walled Garden

It is our commitment to use produce sourced from Harewood wherever possible, this means fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices from the Walled Garden, meat from Harewood’s livestock, wild foods that are foraged on the Estate, and wild game as well. What we can’t source internally, we work with select local independent artisan suppliers who share our ethos on how food & drink should be done.

We took over the running of the Courtyard Café and Terrace Tearoom on behalf of Harewood House Trust in March this year and we base our approach around ‘the Five S’s’, which underpin our approach to food and what you can expect during your visit to Harewood House:

  • Simple
  • Seasonal
  • Sustainable
  • Sourced Locally
  • Specials

 

One of our seasonal Walled Garden Soups of the day. Photo by Claire McClean.

 

Seasonal Eating & Preservation

In a time when people have a heightened awareness of the impact of what we eat, how it is produced and how it is transported, we’re on a mission to show people that great food and drink can be done with a clear conscience.

Seasonal eating” has become a much-overused phrase in the food and drink world, so why is it so important?

By eating what is in season means you’re having it when it’s at it’s very best, it’s freshest. There are a number of benefits to this; Fresher food has greater nutritional value, it tends to support local farmers and the local economy, it’s transported less distance so has an environmental benefit, and, possibly most important of all, it tastes better.

Seasonal eating is not only about eating what’s currently in season, it’s also about preserving the seasons.

When there’s a glut of something there’s a number of traditional techniques that can be used to prolong the usable season of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and meats as well as altering and enhancing their flavour profiles. These include drying, curing, smoking, pickling and fermenting, and some more expert techniques such as clamping, ageing in bees wax and dry ageing.

 

Wild Mushrooms from Harewood. Photo by Claire McClean.

 

 At this time of year preservation techniques are particularly valuable when there’s not much growing in the gardens, other than the odd hardy brassica and root vegetable. In the past, the ability to store and preserve food over the fallow, cold winter months was literally a matter of life and death. It ensured supplies of food with enough nutritional value to keep you going until the more productive Spring time came around.

These techniques have become synonymous with contemporary cuisine as they can change and enhance flavour profiles and help to bring dishes together. Scandinavian and Japanese cuisine are both pioneers of these techniques, we put them in to use here at Harewood. Next time you’re able to visit the inside of the Courtyard Café, see the shelf behind the coffee machine. This is “Josh’s Fermentation Station”, and whilst it looks like the experimentation of a mad scientist, it will all taste delicious and be used on our menus throughout the year.

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Winter and Beyond. Sustainability in Harewood’s Gardens.

Photo credit Trevor Nicholson

Harewood’s Head Gardener Trevor Nicholson takes us through new processes and methods being implemented across the Gardens, as Harewood looks to the future and more sustainable ways of caring for its Gardens and Grounds. 

As autumn gives way to winter, the Grounds and Gardens teams have been very busy, ably assisted by our loyal and enthusiastic band of volunteers. For the grounds team this means the removal of a huge quantity of fallen leaves from Harewood’s verdant lawns. The collected leaf litter is a valuable source of leaf mould for the gardens.

Having made the decision a few months earlier to change the way we grow our vegetables in the Walled Garden to something approaching the ‘no-dig’ system, every leaf – in fact, every scrap of green garden waste – has become significantly more precious to us as a renewable source of organic matter to be re-purposed as a growing medium.

Although we’ve been making compost for many years, the real difference is in the way we now apply it – and why. Call it what you will: ‘no dig’, ‘no till’, ‘reduced tillage’ etc, there are numerous labels; but they all mean pretty much the same thing: put away the spade and stop turning over and chopping up the garden soil year after year!

Photo credit Trevor Nicholson

Regularly digging over and breaking up the soil impacts on the soil ecosystem by disturbing complex ‘food webs’ – interrelations between a multitude of soil organisms and mycorrhizal fungi, which live symbiotically with plants. Leaving the soil undisturbed and placing organic matter onto the surface not only prevents stored carbon from the soil being released into the atmosphere through digging, it also provides optimum conditions to enable the community of soil organisms to flourish.

The beneficial effect of these soil organisms includes increasing the fertility of the soil and improving its structure. One of the most important environmental benefits of adopting this method of surface ‘mulching’ is the retention of soil moisture, which not only saves water, but also reduces soil erosion and helps prevent the silting up of rivers and drainage systems.

Another added benefit to the gardener of applying organic matter to the soil as a surface ‘mulch’ is the control of weeds. This method need not be confined to the vegetable garden. We are experimenting in some areas of the Himalayan Garden with the use of waste cardboard re-purposed as a biodegradable ground cover, which is being placed between plants and topped off with sieved leaf mould.

The composting of our green garden waste and the recycling of biodegradable materials really underpins much of what we are doing in the gardens – now and in the future – as we set our focus on working in ever more sustainable ways and having environmentally considered methods at the forefront of our  thinking.