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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.

Helen & Joe Got Married

MrandMrsCrabtreemarryatHarewwodFrom the end of this year, couples can again get married at Harewood, the first time in several years. Mr and Mrs Crabtree got married in 2014 and gave us an insight into their big day.

How did you meet?
We met at York Races through a mutual friend.

Why did you choose Harewood for your wedding?
We’d looked around a few venues but as soon as we were shown around Harewood we knew it was the venue for us. Beautiful house, stunning views and penguins to boot!

What was your wedding like?
From start to finish, the day was perfect. It was the hottest day of the year so we spent most of the day and night outside, either on the terrace or in the courtyard. It was a very relaxed day – exactly what we wanted – with a BBQ served to our guests in the sun and all our friends and family enjoying the live band in the evening.

Where did you do your first dance and what was the music?
Our first dance was in the Courtyard to Van Morrison’s ‘Crazy Love’ sung by our fab wedding band ‘The Players’.


What are your lasting highlights / memories of your wedding?
Joe – Helen walking down the aisle as our friend sang ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’
Helen – standing on the terrace after the ceremony with all our friends and family and just looking around feeling incredibly happy.

If you could do it all over again, would you…?
Absolutely – we wouldn’t change a thing.

The Harewood Wedding Showcase takes place on Sunday 30 September and present wedding opportunities and some exceptional partners and suppliers to couples looking to tie the know. To find out more visit online and follow us on social media @harewoodhouse


An Introduction to the Walled Garden at Harewood House

Heritage Fruit & Vegetables

Recognising the contribution gardeners and farmers made to the war effort

As part of the Seeds of Hope exhibition in the Walled Garden we have been growing an interesting selection of heritage fruits and vegetables that we researched and believe may have been grown here during the First World War.

Old seed catalogues and articles published in the 1918 Gardeners’ Chronicle, a monthly magazine for Head Gardeners, enabled us to develop planting plans and resources from a few of the specialist seed suppliers still growing these old varieties today, such as Thomas Etty, Garden Organic and Pernnard Plants.

In 1914 Britain imported over 60% of its total food supply. British farmers focused on the production of livestock for meat and dairy, a far more profitable and much less labour-intensive product than arable crops.

As the war progressed, the Government became so concerned that Britain may run out of food, in part due to the sustained bombing campaign, that they decided to take action and in February 1917 introduced rationing for the first time and launched a ‘Ploughing Up’ campaign. This ordered farmers to convert pastures into arable fields to produce vital crops such as wheat, oats and potatoes.

In November 1917 the Harewood Estate received its order and the 5th Countess of Harewood actively encouraged her own tenant farmers, gardeners and other local farmers to employ women on the land.

Over the next few months, we will share with you just some of the examples of what we believe would have been grown in the Walled Garden to provide food for the Harewood Estate’s staff, the soldiers convalescing in the auxiliary hospital in the house as well as for sale in the in the local village shops and markets.

With our Kale looking particularly vibrant in the garden this month, the first blog will highlight its virtues and varieties. Read more about Seeds of Hope.

Maria Mahon, Kitchen Gardener

The Story behind Seeds of Hope

5 questions with….Nicola Stephenson, Harewood House Trust Exhibitions Producer

What’s the story behind Seeds of Hope?

We wanted to find a way of marking the end of the First World War, in this the centenary year, and rather than dwelling on the well-reported horrors, when we thought about what was happening at Harewood in that period, we found so many interesting stories linked to life in and around the Estate, such as keeping the local population (and Navy) fed, the House as an auxiliary hospital and the work and activities people did to lift their spirits and keep going despite their personal worries about family and the war. It soon became clear that the Walled Garden and the gardener’s Bothy had a real story to tell.

How did the Seeds of Hope project develop?

The Walled Garden lies on the opposite side of the Lake and although our visitors have always had the opportunity to go there, not many people were. We felt they were missing the chance to see a very magical part of Harewood and that there was an opportunity to bring both outdoor and indoor spaces to life. For that we needed some real creativity.

We had been aware of Lord Whitney and their work in Leeds and beyond for some time. A collaboration of young creative directors, many of us had seen their highly acclaimed immersive work at Leeds Town Hall, The World Beneath the Woods, and we loved the approach of creating an immersive environment to tell a historical story and to bring this project to life, so that it could appeal to young and old. And what they have created has really transformed the space for the good.

Tell us more about the process of the collaboration?

Rebekah Lord and Amy Whitney make up the creative duo of Lord Whitney, in addition to a team of exceptionally talented artists, musicians and set designers, including Buffalo who created the soundscape. They first came to Harewood in the winter, when it was cold and the garden was empty and looking huge and the Bothy had not been converted – a daunting introduction! Over the following months they developed and presented their vision, through research and conversations with people such as Head Gardener Trevor and Rebecca Burton in our Collections department. A narrative began to emerge based on the historical research but telling the Seeds of Hope story through a number of characters. In addition, they developed a layout for the garden, stocked with heritage vegetables, goats and chickens, encouraging visitors to step back in time to a 100 years ago.

The visual and audio soundscapes (based on a song of the time called The World is Waiting for a Sunrise) were created for the Orchard and the old green houses, planted with 1,269 sunflowers, representing the number of soldiers treated in the hospital during the war. The music shows how sound can transform a space and has surpassed our imagination and that of our visitors.
As we uncovered more stories about the time, through callouts to the local community and through research, we could see Lord Whitney become completely absorbed with the stories, and whilst this is a work of fiction, it is very much based on historical fact.

What did you learn working in this way?

This has been a completely new challenge for the Trust, as it’s the first time we have worked across all the different collections in this way; Collections, Gardens, Farm and animal management and practical matters to do with accessibility. It has been a real collaboration with new experiences and responsibilities for everyone. And it’s a long and living exhibition, which means that there is constantly work to do to keep it looking fresh and appealing.

We’ve also learnt a great deal about our capabilities…there has been an exceptional level of team work and contribution from our volunteers in planting 12,000 Cosmos plants and hundreds of sunflowers in a heatwave.

What are your highlights?

  1. Standing in the orchard and listening to the music that seems to flow from the trees, it’s poignant and moving and yet very peaceful.
  2. Standing in Mr Leathley’s office, looking out of the window and seeing his collection of bird books and seeds drying out and the view that he had over his garden. The level of detail is lovely and you get a real sense of stepping back in time.
  3. Learning more about this period of history and how it relates to Harewood – the social history stories are fascinating.