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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.