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My Christmas – Charlotte Hepburn, Retail Manager

Harewood_ChristmasTableWe’re enjoying the festive moments of our colleagues at the Trust, here’s Charlotte, Retail Manager

What is your earliest Christmas memory?
My earliest Christmas memory is going round to my grandmas for Christmas dinner and the whole family sitting round the family on all different height chairs, this meant around 18-19 people (we are a big family) I remember sitting on my grandpa’s knee for the whole of Christmas day.

Do you have any specific Christmas traditions?
Growing up I had a pony and every Christmas we took him a special Christmas lunch down to the field consisting of sugar beet and beer.

Which period from history would you have liked to celebrate Christmas in?
I would have like to have celebrated Christmas in the Tudor time just to experience on of those feasts!

What’s the piece of music that gets you in the festive mood?
It has to be the Pogues, Fairytale of New York. It’s not Christmas until you have heard this song!

What’s the nicest gift that someone has offered you / you have given?
I think the best present I have ever received was Blackjack my first pony. He was from my Mum and Dad and I am still paying off the Christmas/birthday present debt!

We will remember…Trust Director Jane Marriott writes…

HarewoodHouseSeedsofHopeSeeds of Hope at Harewood this summer, reminded us that, whether you were home or fighting overseas, everyone was affected by the First World War. Our hope was to tell the story of those who stayed at home, contributing to the war effort by growing food and cultivating the land. The sense of community and mutual support came across strongly through the letters, diaries and stories we unearthed from that time.

There were moments of hope, as the soldiers recovered in the convalescence hospital sited in Harewood House, the opportunity women had to develop new skills as Women’s Land Army in the Walled Garden, and the Naval Award recognising Harewood’s gardeners’ contribution to the war effort. To reinforce this sense of hope and renewal, we purposefully chose to plant 1,269 sunflowers, representing all of those recovering at Harewood. Sunflowers even in decay, promise new life, as the seeds emerge when the flower dies, and can then be replanted.

We worked with an incredibly talented team; Lord Whitney, who treated the subject with such sensitivity and wonderful storytelling, that you could truly imagine the Bothy Boy’s daily toil, or Mr Leathley, the Head Gardener’s reluctant acceptance that his roses must give way to a productive garden.

Human resilience and the power to renew ourselves, even in the darkest of times, is what keeps us all going. I like to think that Harewood today can still add to this sense of peace and rejuvenation. We may only be 7 miles from Leeds city centre, but when you are here, it can feel as though you’ve completely escaped from the stresses of everyday life. Next time you visit, take a moment to gaze across the lake, watch the Red Kites swoop over the walled garden and walk through the trees of a landscape created by Capability Brown over two centuries ago.

We hope our contribution to the commemorations of the end of the First World War and the community spirit here, was a just, sobering, but also uplifting moment of reflection and insight for every generation of visitor. It seems fitting to end with part of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Futility’, which my 10-year old has been reading at school this week;

‘Move him into the sun –
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.’

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Creating Space and enjoying the changing season – Jane Marriott, Trust Director

CraetingSpaceBlogHsrewood_HouseYou may mourn the passing of the glorious summer weather, but autumn is definitely my favourite time of year. There is a special clarity of light across Harewood, as the leaves turn colour and people return, to enjoy long, lingering walks around the lake. This year we wanted to focus on that much used term ‘health and wellbeing’ and what that really means to us and how Harewood can play a part.

I suspect many of us are feeling the pace of life picking up again. My boys are back to school, my work diary is a complicated patchwork of meetings, events and talks. In the past 7 days alone, I’ve been to the opening of the Turner Prize, seen the extraordinary Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy (yes with Meghan Markle on her first solo engagement!) and am in the midst of the annual art frenzy that is the Frieze Art Fair. Next Monday I’ve been invited to see Rachel Whiteread’s specially commissioned piece in the beautiful Dalby Forest. What strikes me in all of this, is our constant need to create – to fashion works out of materials, to celebrate what others have created and take a moment to wonder at beautiful and sometimes challenging pieces.

That need to create, to renew ourselves and to stop the daily grind of life just for a moment is really powerful. Ironically in a time when we are more connected than ever, we often feel quite disconnected and feel the need to take time out.

I would love everyone to take a moment here at Harewood to appreciate that new crispness in the air, to relish wearing our favourite jumpers again and tuck into some heartier fare. Hot chocolates, cheese toastie and waffles have all crept on to our menus and I for one, will need to resist the need to eat, as though I am going into hibernation! I am rather useless at baking, but that doesn’t stop me appreciating the wonderful produce from our walled garden, turning into bakes, crumbles, stews and steaming soups to tempt us all…..taking time to make things, rather than just talking about it.

The next Autumn Glory Festival: Craft & Colour, takes place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October.

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Prolific Peas and Bountiful Beans

HarewoodHouse_FemaleGardeners Model Allotments and Shapely Peas

Britain had only 3 weeks’ worth of food supply left when the Women’s Land Army, a voluntary group, was formed in 1915 and it was to be a time that changed the role of women for good. The shift that took place 100 years ago will directly have influenced the fact that there are three full-time female gardeners in the Walled Garden today, and a team of wonderful and willing female garden volunteers.

As part of the Cultivation of Lands Order Act in 1917, which ordered farmers and land owners to plough up pastures and convert them into arable land to grow crops such as wheat, barley and potatoes, women were recruited in paid roles to take the place of men, who were fighting in their millions on the front line. By 1917 over 260,000 women were employed as labourers and farm hands.

Just prior to the war, the Allotments Act was passed, with the aim of helping households on low incomes, living in the towns and cities, to supplement their food supply by growing their own fruit and vegetables. Harewood’s Walled Garden might have been a ‘model allotment’, showcasing to the many city-dwelling women how to make a success of their food growing. Experienced horticulturists in large gardens like Harewood were often on hand to demonstrate and the focus was very much on growing crops that were highly nutritious, calorific and relatively easy to grow.

RunnerBeanPaintedladyMind Your Peas and Beans

We’ve recreated elements of a model allotment in the Walled Garden as part of Seeds of Hope. Legumes (peas and beans) would have been an important part of the garden and remain so today, as they are incredibly versatile, being nutritious, tasty, easy to grow, and able to be eaten in many different forms; from freshly picked from the garden to dried and stored for later use in soups and stews during the winter.

In the right conditions (a wind free, sunny spot with soil rich in organic matter); sowing every two weeks; picking at least twice a week and the careful choice of early, main and late cropping varieties – growers could achieve a constant supply during the months of June to October.

Peas provide an excellent source of vitamin C – known to help increase our resistance to infection and aid the absorption of iron from leafy green vegetables. Beans provide a source of dietary fibre, necessary for keeping the digestive system in good working order.

Here in the Walled Garden we have been growing an interesting selection of some of the heritage varieties, one or two of which have some very unusual names indeed, such as ‘Nun’s Belly Button’ and ‘Lazy Housewife’!

We’ve enjoyed our exploration and discovery of peas and beans. The pea can be dried and preserved, but the bean is more versatile and a far superior crop. We have grown over a dozen heritage varieties of broad beans, French and runner beans this year, all of which we think would have probably been grown in allotments up and down the country during the First World War.

In terms of order, Broad beans would have been the first in the season to grace Britain’s dinner tables, with an early crop in June, French beans would follow, harvested as young pods, these are delicious simply topped and tailed and boiled briefly within an hour of being picked.

We have been growing ‘Blue Lake White Seeded’ a heritage climbing variety of French bean which is early maturing and produces string-less pods. It is a very decorative variety with beautiful white and yellow flowers. We started this off in the greenhouse back in May and planted out in early June once any risk of frost had gone. Another sowing was also done 3-4 weeks later, and we have been picking beans none stop for the last 2-3 months.

Probably Britain’s most favourite bean however, is the runner bean and the heritage varieties we have been growing are ‘Painted Lady‘ and ‘Scarlett Emperor’, both of which are still widely grown today, mainly due to their decorative nature. Also known as ‘Yorkshire and Lancashire’ and ‘Scarlet Runner’ due to its red and white bi-colour flowers, it is one of the oldest varieties of vegetable still available.

To show just how valuable and versatile a crop peas and beans are, here are some links to some of our favourite recipes, using them at various stages of maturity.

Here are just some of the recipes that have caught our eye…

Broad Bean and Spelt Risotto

Pan Roasted Chicken with Haricot Beans

Pea and Parsley Soup

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Christmas in September – Jane Marriott presents Harewood’s vision for Christmas

Is it really time to think about Christmas already? In my second year as Director here at Harewood, I’m just getting used to the fact that we have had to plan for Christmas 2018, since spring this year!

Harewood is a beautifully restored, historic house that we want to ensure stays alive and relevant. It is an educational charitable trust, but it is also a wonderful collection of social and cultural stories, shaped by the Lascelles family. Christmas is such an important and magical time of the year, to be shared with our families, and at Harewood we feel exactly the same. We want to extend that family welcome to all of our visitors.

Christmas at Harewood 1920sHarewood’s Christmas will be both a nostalgic and moving experience, encouraging visitors to delve a little deeper into our social history. Our theme and artistic director this year will ensure that Christmas at Harewood is imaginative, bold, beautiful and simply impossible to replicate anywhere else….

The decadent era of the 1920s and its more celebratory note is a natural continuation from Seeds of Hope, our exhibition in the Walled Garden and Bothy, which commemorates the end of the first World War, honouring the incredibly important work the gardeners did in supporting the war effort. This participatory and immersive work of imagination, rooted in historical fact and created by Lord Whitney, marks a poignant moment in history and led us to decide Christmas should end the year on a high.

Without giving away too many secrets, visitors will step back in time to imagine Christmas through the eyes of two little boys at the end of the decade; George and Gerald Lascelles. George was the current Earl’s father and both boys were the sons of the sixth Earl and Princess Mary. ‘Imagine it is Christmas Eve 1929, and George and Gerald are wildly excited about the day ahead. As they sleep their unconscious seeps into the rooms of the house, creating a magical dreamscape. Their miniature Pony & Trap is pulled by a Rocking Horse, a satyr from the Chippendale Pier Tables morphs into Santa and their Mother’s elegant wedding dress turns into a beautiful Christmas tree……’

It is important not to be too led by a historical recreation, but rather to be playful and nostalgic. We therefore approached Simon Costin to be our Artistic Director. He is an internationally respected art director who has collaborated with the likes of the late Alexander McQueen and Givenchy to create jaw-dropping catwalk designs. His work has also been included in many exhibitions and collections from the ICA in London to The Metropolitan Museum in New York. Simon is also great fun to work with and I am sure the staff and volunteers will enjoy every moment dressing the house from top to bottom!

I, for one, cannot wait to open our doors, this Christmas, and welcome everyone into the dream world of the 1920s at Harewood.