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Parents’ Guide: Our Challenging History

Trigger warning: 

This page focuses on the challenging history of Harewood House and the Lascelles family. It includes information about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and discusses the systematic exploitation of enslaved people. 

This information is based on how we teach KS2 children in our school sessions about Harewood and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. We hope you find it useful in talking to young people about the estate’s history.


Harewood House has been the home of the Lascelles family for 250 years. The money that was used to build the House was made in the Caribbean, where the family made a great fortune through the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the production of sugar.


What was the Transatlantic Slave Trade? 

The Transatlantic Slave Trade was the system in which African people were taken from their homeland to work as enslaved workers in North and South America and the Caribbean.


Triangular Trade Route

The Transatlantic Slave Trade was part of the Triangular Trade Route.

A map of the world showing the route of the transatlantic slave trade in red.

British enslavers travelled in ships to each part of the route. Along the way, they picked up valuable items and enslaved people and they were traded and used to make money.


What is a plantation?

When enslaved people arrived from Africa in the Americas and the Caribbean, they were forced to work on plantations.

A plantation is a farm that grows lots of the same crop that can be sold for lots of money. Enslaved workers worked on plantations that grew sugar, cotton, coffee, tobacco and cacao (chocolate). These items would be shipped over to Britain and sold for a profit.


The Lascelles Family 

The Lascelles family owned and managed sugar plantations in the Caribbean.

On the Lascelles’ plantations, enslaved people were forced to grow, harvest and make sugar from sugar cane. The sugar made by the enslaved workers made the Lascelles family lots of money when it was sent over to Britain.

The Lascelles family were also involved in selling and transporting sugar and invested their money in slave ships.


Why don’t we say ‘slave’ any more? 

We use the words enslaved person/people because this shows that slavery was forced onto that person and it was not a choice. It also helps us to remember them as human beings, rather than as only a ‘slave.’


Adults can also learn more here about how we engage with Harewood’s troubled past.