Once home of The Yorkshire Princess…
The family seat of the Earl and Countess of Harewood, this Georgian mansion house was built in the mid-18th century for the wealthy trader Edwin Lascelles using money that his father had made from owning tens of sugar plantations and thousands of slaves across the West Indies. Harewood House has been home to the Lascelles family ever since, reflecting the changing tastes and styles of the past 250 years.
Employing the finest craftsmen of the time, Harewood was designed by pre-eminent architects John Carr and Robert Adam. Adam was one of the most fashionable architects and interior designers in Georgian England. His innovative style of neo-classicism (‘Style of the Brothers Adam’) favoured a lighter, more decorative aesthetic. Local-born Thomas Chippendale designed much of the furniture at Harewood; his greatest masterpiece is the Diana and Minerva commode that now stands in the State Bedroom. In the 1840s, Sir Charles Barry (architect of the Palace of Westminster) remodelled much of the House, and created the formal terraces and parterres.
Harewood was home to Princess Mary, HRH The Princess Royal, from 1929 until her death in 1965. The only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, The Princess married Viscount Lascelles in 1922. Together, they introduced many modern amenities to the House. Her love of Yorkshire and the affection that the people of Yorkshire felt for her, means that she will always be remembered as ‘The Yorkshire Princess’.
At the age of twenty two, JMW Turner came to Harewood as a young artist and left a legacy of watercolours that remain in the collection today. The ‘painter of light’ was not the only artist associated with the House, however, Thomas Girtin, a friend of Turner’s, John Varley, John Piper and Roger Fenton all stayed at Harewood over the years. Masterpieces by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence and Richmond are on display throughout the House, as well as a fine collection of Svres china. The Terrace Gallery, a dedicated exhibition space for contemporary art, has exhibited works by a wide range of artists, including Antony Gormley, Sir Sidney Nolan, Andy Goldsworthy, David Hockney, Andy Warhol and Dame Elizabeth Frink. In 2011, Sir Jacob Epstein’s Adam was restored to its former glory in Harewood’s entrance hall. This double sense of the historic and the contemporary make Harewood not only a rich tapestry of England’s history, but a fabric that is forever being reworked with new yarns.