Harewood House, West Yorkshire

Like all such national treasures, and there are many, Harewood House in West Yorkshire has to earn its keep. The list of events and things to see and do has multiplied since I was there last. Craftmaking workshops and demonstrations are now part of the experience. You can practise calligraphy, learn to weave willow, or make wreaths with dried flowers., Rounded off nicely with afternoon tea, but none of this compulsory. You can still have a great day with just the basics. I wish I’d paused to visit the exhibition Harewood on Film because the house and extensive grounds have taken a starring role in many a drama. My chief purpose in being there, however, was to entertain an 8 year old. You can imagine that the adventure playground and petting zoo had prior claims on our attention.

Nevertheless, it was hard not to admire the beautiful gardens, though some of the statuary caused rolled eyes. The times were very different. The finest craftsmen of the day were employed when Edwin Lascelles started building his new home in 1759. Locally born architect John Carr, popular interior designer Robert Adam, renowned furniture maker Thomas Chippendale, and landscape gardener extraordinaire, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, all combined their expertise to magnificent effect in creating Harewood.

After scrambling and tumbling in the playground, we set off to explore the grounds, following the edge of the lake to the Himalayan Garden. The plants were waist high and above. Huge gunnera rippled in waves down to the stream, which you could cross by means of stepping stones. The garden must be stunning in May-June, when the rhododendrons are in bloom. Stopping to pay homage to the Stupa, we climbed back to the top of the gorge, and spent a happy 10 minutes sending leaves plummeting down the cascades to join the stream, far below. Simple pleasures.

Some of the trees were amazing in girth. One or two were home to fairies. And another, potentially good for climbing. We arrived at the Walled Garden ready for a hot drink. Not the warmest of days and we were consigned to outdoor picnic tables, but the cheese and ham panini hit the spot for the youngster and my cherry bakewell slice was divine. There wasn’t even a crumb left to photograph! Healthy looking plants marched across the lawns in an orderly fashion while the borders harboured some beautiful specimens. We were a bit disappointed to find that the promised boat ride across the lake wasn’t operating, but he’s young and fit and we were back round the lake in no time.

Flamingos stood to attention on one leg, while the aviary showcased birds of every size and description. The penguin pool wasn’t so easy to capture on camera, but I did manage a kookaburra and a snowy owl. And a shaggy goat story! The house was open by this time, and I was anxious for a bit of warmth. And we certainly received a warm reception. The staff were knowledgeable and happy to chat, and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the opulence and sheer wealth on display. Ill gotten gains, and definitely over the top by today’s standards, but beautiful.

Back in the fresh air a glimmer of sunshine persuaded us to take the North Park walk to All Saints Church. An exhibition of stained glassware by Chris Day referenced the slave trade, which contributed to Lascelles enormous wealth.

Exiting through a secret tunnel brought us to a maze filled with willow creatures in a woodland play area, and the adventure was over. A good day’s entertainment, I thought, and only a bus ride from Leeds City Centre.

I haven’t yet finalised my Christmas plans, but I could be tempted by Upon a Christmas Wish. I might even wish for a little snow to enhance the experience. But not yet awhile!

51 thoughts on “Harewood House, West Yorkshire

  1. Another lovely post reminding me of my past Jo! Harewood House was about 20 minutes up the road from our house and we would often go there for walks and to see the Bird Garden (not sure if that is still there or not) or maybe it is now part of the Himalayan garden area? Talking of ill gotten gains my late mum was always very dismissive of the Lascelles family due to their slave trade involvment – it was certainly something I was made very aware of growing up. I think that’s why we didn’t seem to go into the hosue even though it was open to the public and spent most of our time outdoors. Still a lovely day out though πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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    • I think I was only ever in the house once before, Rosemay. We had a full day there and the adventure playground was good and the bird garden still there and full of all kinds of exotic birds. It was the coolest day of our visit and I was happy to be indoors a while.

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  2. Wow, Jo, this post was superb! Well written with pleasant descriptions, movement, and a gentle nod to history and the current times and the slave controversies of today. I loved following along on your walk with your grandson, I always love Jo’s Walks. The spirit of exploration, the vigor, and the cake and tea at the end. And the photos were also a joy. Great to see your adorable grandson in the tree, and all the finery of Harewood House. I appreciated your link about HH and swung by Wikipedia to learn more, also a pleasure. Thanks for sharing this link to your new site, I am absolutely delighted you’re on board with the new site.

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  3. Just now catching up with you after my recent holiday up in the Lakes. Thanks for the link to this new blog, it’s looking good so far but I can’t see a way of following you to get email notifications of new posts. Reader is a no-no for me as there’s too much going on in there and I can’t be doing with it so I’ve bookmarked you in my favourites list and will check every day as I do with other blogs. Keep up the good work, and I may very well send you a walk or two once I’ve sorted out my many holiday shots πŸ™‚

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    • Thanks for following me here, Eunice. Hope you had a good holiday? I can’t seem to sort the follow issue either, possibly because this is still linked to Restlessjo and I no longer subscribe to that. I’ve never had a problem with the Reader because all the people in there are people I want to follow, but whatever works for you. I’m just happy you stopped by.

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  4. what a grand place, Jo! and i’m glad that you two had a wonderful time! love all your photos, the intricately designed ceilings, beautiful garden, the birds and the lake. thanks for taking us along. truly enjoyed every minute of it! cheers πŸ™‚

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  5. SO lovely to have you back, Jo, but I’m still not getting any sort of notifications about new posts. Sigh. I tried following again right now, so we’ll see what happens. What a wonderful place! Thanks for sharing.

    janet

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  6. Looks like both of you had an excellent time here. The house looks lovely, although not ignoring the ill-gotten gains issue (which must apply to most of the country’s grand houses) but the grounds seem to be the real stars, with so much to appeal to both adult and child πŸ˜ƒ

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  7. Harewod is my neck of the woods, just ten minutes away… traffic permitting.
    I drove past twice yesterday, I gave my eldest daughter, Victoria, a lift to her lunch date with friends in Boston Spa.

    An annual family ticket to Harewood is so worth it. My children and grandchildren all spend/spent their school holidays with endless visits. We used to take school trips every summer, though I always wondered why we did that seeing as most of our children already went there regularly.

    Victoria and I have done Christmas at Harewood since they started doing them, unfortunately,due to Covid last year’s event was cancelled. Christmas at Harewood has always been a thrill for us and I would recommend it to everyone.

    Your photographs are lovely, makes me hanker after another visit and I’m so glad you enjoyed yours.

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    • We regularly passed it on our visits to James from the north east, but I think I’ve only ever visited once before. We arrived by bus and felt like the poor relatives walking up that drive, but a hefty discount with the bus ticket more than compensated. We did Christmas at Chatsworth and at Castle Howard and both were fabulous in their own way. Not sure if we’ll be in the UK this Christmas but it’s not looking likely right now. Many thanks for your company, Sue!

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  8. Despite living a lot nearer to Harewood than you, it’s years since I’ve been inside – or indeed done more than tramp its grounds – there’s always tomorrow when I’m so near, isn’t there, so thanks for this. In fact I’m walking at nearby Eccup on Tuesday, finishing at the parkland. Keep your Yorkshire travels coming!

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