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University of Leeds

Harewood House Trust Awarded Exchange Funding to Research Harewood Electricity Story

Capability Brown designed gardens at Harewood House

Harewood House Trust is today announcing the successful application of a Collaborative Research Award from The Exchange, a network developed to nurture collaboration between academics and creative SMEs. Working with the University of Leeds as an academic partner, the £5000 funding will support research into the fascinating and little known story about how Harewood House adopted electricity.

Princess Mary, 6th Countess of Harewood, was instrumental in electrifying Harewood House. A rich archive exists which will provide the basis for the research. From this archive, held at Harewood and the West Yorkshire Archive Service, the research aims to discover the important role Princess Mary played in electrifying Harewood and what the wider role of women was in adopting electric lighting in country houses. Further research will be done into early discussions (1901) about the possible use of hydroelectricity at Harewood.

The results will feed into a drama workshop for family audiences which will take place on the 21st August at Harewood, and will inform new training for guides and volunteers. The existing lighting display, which is located Below Stairs, will be re-interpreted as part of this work.

At the University of Leeds, a workshop will be held for pupils from IntoUniversity as part of their summer programme. IntoUniversity offers an innovative programme of activities that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, inspiring them to achieve and in particular to aspire to university study.

Harewood House Trust looks forward to working with Dr Michael Kay, the researcher who will be carrying out the research, and supporting the development of dramatic performances reflecting this fascinating aspect of Harewood’s history.

Dr. Michael Kay said, “This project gives us the exciting opportunity to tell a new story about electricity at Harewood, through new archival research and interpretative materials.  Working with actors will allow us to bring to life the people involved in this story, which will be fun and engaging for young audiences.”

This summer look out for the following events:

  • 11 August – IntoUniversity workshop at the University of Leeds
  • 21 August – Dramatic Performance, Electrifying Harewood House, with related Below Stairs activities
  • 11 September – Heritage Open Days drama workshop at the University of Leeds, with museum object handling and craft activity

The project titled Electrifying the Country House – Harewood’s electricity story, will commence on 20th June 2016.