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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.

Harewood House Trust welcomes the creation of the ‘Heirs of Slavery’ group

Harewood House Trust welcomes the creation of the Heirs of Slavery group, which includes David Lascelles, the Earl of Harewood, and other people whose ancestors profited from transatlantic slavery.

Harewood House Trust is an independent educational charitable trust established in 1986.  The Trust works to maintain and develop Harewood House, Gardens and Grounds, the historic home of the Lascelles family, for the public’s benefit. The charity, which is also an accredited museum, uses all the funds raised from visitor admission to keep the site open, to engage with Harewood’s local communities and to run a diverse programme of exhibitions and events, which are enjoyed by over 250,000 people every year. Given that Harewood House was built using profits from the Transatlantic trade in enslaved people, this programme has for a long time strived to open up conversations about this history and its ongoing impact around the world. Harewood House Trust welcomes the Heirs of Slavery’s statement and hopes that the group’s creation will continue to progress these conversations.

Since the charity’s creation, Harewood House Trust has maintained links with the Lascelles family. This has included generous donations from the family and working collaboratively with them on several projects. Harewood House Trust is grateful for their support of the charity’s projects and looks forward to further collaborations in future. The Trust will continue its work to be open about Harewood’s history; to make Harewood a welcoming, inclusive place for all; and to raise awareness of the local, national and global movements that seek restorative justice for enslaved people and their descendants.

These projects include:

  • The Trust’s Open History series highlights the site’s past with the exhibition Bertie Robinson: The Footman from St Vincent and Black History walks with Leeds-based Heritage Corner.
  • In the Missing Portraits series, the Trust is creating exhibitions to accompany portraits of Black sitters, commissioned by the Earl and Countess of Harewood to diversify the House’s historic art collection. The first portrait is of Leeds community activist and founder of Leeds Carnival Arthur France and the second will be of the actor and writer David Harewood, whose ancestors were enslaved on Lascelles plantations.
  • In 2007 Harewood hosted a wide range of events to commemorate the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. The highlight was performances of Carnival Messiah in a big top near Harewood House. Carnival Messiah is inspired by the music of Handel’s Messiah, performed Caribbean Carnival style and featuring Carnival performers from Britain and from Trinidad.

A full list of Harewood House Trust’s projects that engage with the site’s history can be found here.


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.

Harewood Statement – A Harewood for the next generation

– Harewood announces closure of Bird Garden
– A woodland garden will take its place, bringing historic walks back into existence
– Trust looks to its long-term future, with a focus on programming, its audience
and the environment.

In 2021, Harewood quietly marked 250 years since the completion of Harewood House being built. This stunning Palladian home, built by John Carr of York with interiors by Robert Adam, and landscapes by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, has seen incredible changes during its lifetime. Since 1986 the care of Harewood has been entrusted to a charity, Harewood House Trust, with a board of Trustees and an administration tasked with ensuring its long-term future and providing a place for the public benefit.

The last few years have been especially difficult, particularly in light of Covid-19, and as we enter 2023 we are all acutely aware of the financial pressures that we face.

Harewood is not immune to these difficulties and in spite of having a record-breaking year with visitor numbers, the Charity remains reliant on the support of the Lascelles family, its Members and visitors, Arts Council England and others in order to offer a great experience whilst balancing conservation needs of the site, with ever greater pressure on our resources.

As the Trust looks to its long-term future it has to consider what Harewood will look like in 5, 10, 25 years’ time from now and beyond, to ensure we stay relevant and able to remain open for everyone to enjoy.

Harewood’s Bird Garden is now over 50 years old and, as visitors have pointed out to us consistently over the past few years, the birds’ environment is not on a par with more up-to-date zoos. At Harewood’s last zoo inspection, the team were praised for their excellent care and the health of the birds, but sadly they identified many problems with the site’s physical infrastructure that the charity cannot sustain.

Over the last six months we have been researching options for the charity going forwards, however, with a need for a £4 million investment to just the Bird Garden alone, the Trust has had to make the incredibly difficult decision to close this part of the Harewood experience. The Trust simply cannot make the Bird Garden the place that we, and you, all want it to be.

Over the next six months or so, the birds – many of which are exotic or endangered – will be re-homed at places better equipped long-term to ensure they continue to have comfortable and enriched lives and to ensure their life-long care. The closure date of the Bird Garden will be published later in the year once these dates become clear.

In its place, we will create a new woodland garden, making it an environment where native wildlife can thrive. You will be able to observe woodland and water birds, red kites, otters and more. It also provides us with an opportunity to recreate some historic walks, part of which is expanding the South Park walk that opened in 2021.

Harewood’s Farm Experience will remain but we will look at the opportunities to improve the area surrounding Harewood’s Courtyard to provide a better visitor experience and open up some incredibly beautiful views of the site.
We realise that many of Harewood’s visitors love the Bird Garden and have children who love it too. It has been an incredibly difficult conclusion to reach but it is the most responsible and ethical decision to make, to ensure the health and care of these beautiful creatures, but also to ensure Harewood can stand the test of time and be here for as long as it has stood already.

Emily Shard, chair of Harewood House Trust, comments:

‘It is with huge sadness that the Trustees have reached the conclusion that the Bird Garden must close. Harewood and the Lascelles family have long been committed to the care and conservation of wildlife and nature, but the wellbeing of the birds is paramount. The investment needed to create a modern zoo and maintain this each year is too much for the Trust to afford.

We therefore realise that we must make this change and focus on the long-term ambition of this wonderful place, and on the opportunities that Harewood has to support our environment, represent the people and the communities that live in this area today, and to continue to develop Harewood, to serve its best purpose into the future.’

Harewood’s winter season begins once again this weekend when we will be open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until our full all-week opening from Friday 17 March. We will also be open throughout Leeds half term week, Monday 13 to Sunday 19 February.

We will be announcing 2023’s programme of exhibitions and activities in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, thank you to all our Members, visitors, volunteers and supporters for your continued support and your understanding.
Harewood looks forward to welcoming you throughout the next year and beyond, and will continue to update visitors as the Birds go to new homes.

Harewood House … in gingerbread form

Currently situated centre stage in the Old Kitchen is a most beautiful Gingerbread Harewood House, made and iced by one of our Garden Volunteers Klara. For this blog, we sit down with Klara and ask her about volunteering at Harewood and how her interest in gingerbread began.

When did you make and ice your first gingerbread?
I grew up in Hungary. Since I was a child, making gingerbread has been a part of my life. It is a Christmas tradition in our country to make and decorate gingerbread cookies, we call “mézeskalacs”.

How did you learn your craft?
At first, I learned my craft from my mother. Later, I developed my own style and various recipes, including gluten free, diary free and vegan. Over the years I adjusted my collections to meet the country-specific trend where I had been living. However, I have never lost my own style that makes my work unique and recognizable. I have a quality-oriented mindset, that comes from my background as a chemical engineer working in quality management and also as a certificated botanical artist.

How did you hear about volunteering at Harewood ?
I moved to Yorkshire in 2021 and I was looking for a volunteer gardening opportunity and I saw an advertisement for a Volunteer Open Afternoon in the Walled Garden when I first visited Harewood.

What is it you enjoy most about volunteering with the garden team?

The Garden team (staff and volunteers) are all very friendly and welcoming. We learn so much from the professional gardeners.

We work in a very warm environment, in beautiful surroundings, where everyone is very enthusiastic about our work and at the end of the day, when we see the results of our efforts, we feel very proud.

How did you start to make the Harewood gingerbread House ?
I researched the floorplan, took many photos and then simplified the House, retaining its main characteristics. In total, it took about 2 weeks to complete the project.

What icing do you find most satisfying or do you enjoy doing most?
I like the simple traditional designs, but my favourite is creating gingerbreads where I can use my own imagination and design. It is most satisfying when I see the magic of a plain gingerbread transformed through my icing. I especially like doing 3D creations such as houses, Easter eggs, boxes, etc.

What would you like to do in the future?
I hope that I will have more opportunities in the UK to introduce my gingerbread artwork to more people and share my love of this beautiful craft.


Klara’s Gingerbread on Facebook