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A night at the movies: Downton Abbey première

Walking down a red carpet will always be thrilling, but even more so last night at the Downton Abbey world première of the film in Leicester Square.

With the Earl and Countess of Harewood, I waited with bated breath to see Harewood on the big screen and it didn’t disappoint. From beautiful sweeping shots of the house outside, to gorgeous drawing room scenes with Princess Mary (6th Countess of Harewood), and the final ball scene with such glamorous costumes … The grandeur of Harewood was captured by moonlight for a final romantic scene, demonstrating just how beautiful Harewood is.

As a charity, filming always provides such a vital income stream, in order to keep the house and collections open. But it is also a juggling act as I am determined to try and keep as much of the house and grounds open to the public whilst filming commences. It does pay off though, as glimpses of Maggie Smith walking back to the Base unit of over a hundred people in our main car park, give visitors an unexpected treat!

You may notice that throughout the film, the characters pronounce ‘Har-wood’ as it would have been known at that time. Today we are all one ‘Hare-wood’ whether it is the village, house or family. The truth is also skewed for fiction as you see the relationship between the 6th Earl and Princess Mary unfold … it makes for a good storyline, but in reality we know there was actually a great deal of affection between these two. In over 170 boxes of Princess Mary’s personal letters, objects and diaries, which Harewood House Trust is now responsible for, the Earl refers to himself as Princess Mary’s little ‘owl’ (she loved these birds) and she was his little ‘canary’. We’ll be giving all of our visitors a very special glimpse into this personal archive in an exhibition in the house this autumn.

It’s a hard job of course (!) as we spent a rather glamorous few hours at the after-party chatting to actors Jim Carter (Carson) Kate Phillips (Princess Mary), to the Director and Producer and of course to writer Julian Fellowes. They all praised Harewood for its beauty and how well we managed the filming. The lavish scale and opulence of the film far outstrips the TV series.

As Julian Fellowes said, it has been ten years since the beginning of Downton and none of them could have predicted where it would lead. America is next as they all get on the plane next week to New York. In the meantime we’ve invited Kate Phillips back to Harewood to delve into her character’s life – Princess Mary, sister to two kings and a fascinating, thoughtful Countess of Harewood.

Photography © 2019 Focus Features LLC

Getting Hands-on at Harewood

Ever wanted to try your hand at weaving, or get the opportunity to have a go at blacksmithing for yourself…?

Over the past few years, Harewood has been gradually establishing its workshop programme, working with exceptional individuals who are leaders in their fields, to create some really interesting and one-off workshops here at Harewood.

From yoga on the Terrace last year, to a full programme of events this spring and summer that complement Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, the general theme in the House and across the whole site.

Our workshops are tailored to small groups, are not readily available anywhere else in the vicinity and are enhanced by access to behind the scenes in the House and the new exhibition. And there are refreshments, often lunch. This season the workshops are led by artists and makers from Useful/Beautiful.

PAPER SCULPTING WITH ANDY SINGLETON – 11 May
Wakefield-based paper artist Andy Singleton is acclaimed for his paper sculptures, two of which can be seen hanging in the Library. Participants will explore the potential of paper cutting and get to create their own unique sculptural forms.

FRAME WEAVING WORKSHOP FROM WASTE WITH MARIA SIGMA – 18 May
Driven by a ‘zero waste’ approach to textile design, Maria Sigma has become a rising star in the world of weaving. Take your discarded but still loved textiles, including t-shirts and pillow cases, and make them into something new…

WORKING WITH FINE BONE CHINA: A WORKSHOP WITH REIKO KANEKO – 1 June
Reiko Kaneko was born and raised in Japan, and the cultural heritage of her upbringing plays a formative part in her ceramics. Join Reiko for an introduction to the whole process of making, decorating and glazing fine bone china.

INTRODUCTION TO BLACKSMITHING WITH LESZEK SIKON – 8 June, 2 workshops
The perfect Father’s Day gift – an exclusive opportunity to work with artisan blacksmith Leszek Sikon for an introduction to blacksmithing, learning basic blacksmithing techniques, making a bottle opener, key leaf chain or Viking style utility knife.

CAST GLASS JEWELLERY WITH EFFIE BURNS – 14 July
Effie creates miniature landscapes of glass objects cast from vegetables. Join Whitby-based artist Effie for an intimate workshop to learn the craft of cast glass jewellery making. This workshop gives a rare chance to work in miniature and create your own cast glass jewellery.

CREATIVE PLAY: UNLIMITED SOURCE OF NEW IDEAS WITH JULI BOLANOS-DURMAN – 21 July
Join vibrant artist Juli Bolaños-Durman for an innovative and creative day, exploring play and its links to creativity. Costa Rican-born, Edinburgh-based Juli works with found glass and other objects, playfully creating fascinating characters and pieces.

USEFUL/BEAUTIFUL TWILIGHT TOURS
18 April / 9 May / 13 June / 18 July
6.30-8.30pm
Join us for an exclusive out of hours tour of Harewood’s acclaimed new exhibition, Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters.

Full details of the programme of events and workshops can be found on biennial.harewood.org

5 questions with Lisa Ward bringing Classic Ibiza to Harewood

Classic Ibiza at Harewood House, Leeds, YorkshireAhead of a busy summer season of events at Harewood, we spent some time with Lisa Ward, Director of Revival Productions and one of the main organisers of Classic Ibiza outdoor events.

What was the inspiration around Classic Ibiza?
I got into house music when I was at university in Manchester in the late ‘80s and then worked for a company that organised classical concerts at stately homes across the country. The inspiration for Classic Ibiza came from marrying my love of dance music with my experience of putting on more traditional concerts to produce something fresh and exciting.

What makes Classic Ibiza such a different experience to other outdoor events?
It’s the full Classic Ibiza package. Firstly, you’ve got the juxtaposition of listening to some truly iconic house tracks, performed by a 32-piece orchestra, in the beautiful grounds of Harewood House. Secondly, it’s the community feeling that permeates all our concerts. This comes from how our amazing artists interact with the audience and the energy they give back. Unlike many other outdoor concerts, we also allow our audience to bring their own food and drink on site, which we find adds to the feel-good vibe.

What is your role?
As Director of Revival Productions, organisers of Classic Ibiza, my role encompasses everything from planning and promotion, to being a general dog’s body on site. As they say, variety is the spice of life!

What three things do you love about your job?
The first would definitely be doing something that brings so much joy to so many people. I get a massive kick from going back-stage at our shows and seeing a sea of smiling faces looking back at me. Secondly, would be working with some amazingly talented musicians. The Urban Soul Orchestra have performed with some of the greats of dance music, including Groove Armada and Nightmares on Wax. I never thought I’d get that opportunity. Finally, working with friends and family. I’m great friends with Katharine Brindley who heads up Revival Productions with me and my family are also involved in the shows. We are a pretty tight-knit bunch!

Is there anything exciting you can reveal about this year’s event at Harewood House?
Ooh, that would be telling… What I can say is that we will be performing eleven new tracks this year and one of them will definitely burn the house down. Not literally, I hasten to add! At Easter, people can also vote for their favourite tunes to be added to the set – check out our Facebook page nearer the time for further information on this.

Maybe not as exciting, but equally as important, we have also put a series of measures in place at this year’s show to ensure that we are prepared for any challenges that the weather might throw at us. You can find out more by reading this short article.

To book tickets for Classic Ibiza this July, go online.

Easy as Rhubarb Pie!

Rhubarb in the Walled GardenMaria Mahon, kitchen gardener in Harewood’s Walled Garden gives an insight into this easy to grow and long lasting crop – rhubarb.

It’s that time of year when rhubarb is starting to grow and those delicious crimson stems can be seen gradually emerging from the soil, stretching and unfurling their young green leaves as if waking up from a long winter sleep. Allotment holders and vegetable gardeners alike will be looking forward to all the scrumptious culinary ways in which to use this famous Yorkshire delicacy.

During the Victorian era and right through to the end of the 2nd World War, rhubarb became very popular as growers discovered how to achieve an early crop of deep pink, tender stems through a technique known as forcing. Forcing involves tricking the plants into thinking spring has arrived. Planting them in dark heated sheds during the winter months, the plant searches for light and as it does so, the stems become thinner and less fibrous than those grown out in the field.

Growers in Yorkshire led the way when it came to growing rhubarb, and most folk have heard of the Rhubarb Triangle (Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield). However, during the 1950s demand for rhubarb went into decline as more exotic fruits became readily available from overseas.

So, how easy is it to grow rhubarb? Very easy is the answer.

Rhubarb requires very little maintenance other than an application of a general purpose fertiliser around the crowns once the harvesting season is over and an annual dressing with well-rotted compost or manure in January or February.

It needs a sunny spot with well-drained soil and so long as it is kept well watered, will provide delicious stalks ready for harvesting every 6-8 weeks during spring and summer, depending on the variety.

The easiest way to introduce rhubarb is to plant crowns and we were very generously donated some crowns from RV Rogers nursery at Pickering. Whilst November is the ideal time to plant crowns, they can still be planted right up until early spring if the ground isn‘t frozen.

Rhubarb is a vegetable rather than a fruit and a lot of people mistakenly think that the colour of the stalk indicates its ripeness. In fact, it is quite the contrary, the more time the stalk spends growing before it is picked, the tougher and more fibrous the stalk gets as it photosynthesises, so it is good to pick the stalks regularly.

We’ve a good crop on display now in the Walled Garden and hope to see some fine samples on the Courtyard Café menu in the next week or so, any perhaps for sale in the Courtyard shop.

Mother’s Day Weekend

Mothers Day Afternoon Tea It’s the next major family celebration on the calendar and there are some lovely treats to discover and share at Harewood this year.

Across the weekend there’s a Makers’ Market in The Courtyard and live music from Leeds-based band Hope & Social, who will have just finished their month-long writing and recording residency in the Volunteer Bookshop at Terrace Cottage, in the grounds of Harewood House.

Wander around the house and discover the 26 exhibitors featured in Useful/Beautiful: Why Craft Matters, take a springtime walk around the grounds and see our gardens in bloom, and for a real treat, book a Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea in our Billiard Room, a location that many enjoyed over Christmas.

What’s On:
– See the brand new Useful/Beautiful exhibition in the State Floor and Below Stairs of the House
– Visit the Courtyard for our Spring Makers’ Market and for a range of artisan food, craft, gifts and contemporary wares
– Make your own sketchbooks with our Family Bookbinding Workshop in the Steward’s Room
– Visit the Maker’s Cabin and explore our range of family activities and trails to guide you around the House and grounds
– Take park in a magical springtime adventure with our Theatrical Outdoor Trail which will take you on a journey around the Harewood’s gardens (Saturday only)
– See the wonderful Hope & Social perform at Harewood – join in with some musical workshops and watch a live performance in the Courtyard (Sunday only)

Relax and enjoy a blissful afternoon together over a glass of fizz and an assortment of delicate finger sandwiches, homemade cakes and a freshly baked scone with Strawberries, Homemade Jam and Clotted Cream, plus, of course your choice of Tea or Coffee.

Book Afternoon Tea

Adult £55
Child £25

Includes Harewood Entry and a floral gift for Mums to take home.

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