I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Monday 13th August

clip_image002Culture today!  We drove over to Harewood (pronounced Hairwood) to visit Harewood (pronounced Harwood!) House.  I really enjoyed the visit as there was quite a lot to see.  Firstly we went for a coffee in the courtyard which used to be the stables.  We then walked through the Bird Garden where there is an excellent collection of rare and exotic birds from around the world.  My favourite was the Grey Crowned Crane – I don’t think I have ever seen a bird look like such a work of art.  The bird’s natural habitat is in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although it nests in somewhat wetter habitats which is just as well as this one is living in Yorkshire!  It is the national bird of Uganda aclip_image004nd features in the country's flag and coat of arms.  After the birds we walked round the lake and through the Himalayan Garden with its paths through a gorge, a waterfall and a bridge across the beck, it is somewhere for all garden-lovers to visit, with primulas, orchids, cobra lilies, blue poppies and more than 50 kinds of rhododendron. The garden is also home to the Harewood Stupa, a Buddhist monument built in 2004 by monks from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The Stupa is the only one of its kind in the UK.  We also walked up to the Walled Garden which is still a working kitchen garden growing a wide variety of both heritage and modern varieties of fruit and vegetables.  Apparently the 4th Earl of Harewood kept a pet hippopotamus in the Lake!

clip_image006The house itself is wonderful – one of the best stately homes I have ever been to.  Magnificent ceilings and most of the furniture was made by Thomas Chippendale who came from the local town of Otley.  Point of interest here - Chippendale used cream cheese to achieve the colour effects in some of his most famous pieces of furniture!  Edwin Lascelles commissioned the building of Harewood House in the mid-18th century with money his father Henry had made in the West Indian sugar trade. It has been home to the Lascelles family ever since, reflecting the changing tastes and styles of the past 250 years.   The Earldom of Harewood was created in 1812 for Edward Lascelles and the current Earl, David, is the 8th Earl having succeeded his father in July 2011.  In 1922 the 6th Earl, Henry, married Princess Mary who was the third child and only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary and they went to live at Harewood in 1929.  Princess Mary was instrumental in the restoration of the house after it had deteriorated during the time of the 5th Earl.

clip_image008In the entrance hall stands Sir Joseph Epstein’s magnificent sculpture, Adam, which was carved from a single piece of Derbyshire alabaster in 1939.  The blatant and unashamed depiction of primal energy and sexuality attracted much press coverage, shock and outrage when the work was first exhibited in the late 1930s. It continues to divide opinion amongst Harewood’s visitors today.  When the sculpture was done it was seen as being extremely risqué and as such has journeyed from peepshows to Louis Tussaud’s warehouse in Blackpool, to the Edinburgh International Festival, before arriving at Harewood House.  Apparently the sculpture weighs 1½ tons and had to go to London last year for restoration which required a considerable feat of engineering, requiring an A-frame, winch and trackway, as well as scaffolding and cranes. 

We wandered around the terrace and admired the beautiful view over the lake and I have to admit that I was rather sad to have to leave such a lovely and welcoming place.

Waterfall at Harewood House
Harrogate was next on the agenda though we didn’t really have time to do it justice.  We admired the lovely houses as we drove into the town and managed to park right outside Betty’s Tea Rooms where you need to take out a mortgage to have afternoon tea!  We had a quick wander round the centre.  The flowers on every corner and in the parks are so colourful and vibrant they made the whole place come alive – I wish we had had time to visit the award winning Valley Gardens.  We walked around the Montpellier Quarter and admired the lovely little shops and buildings.  I was amazed at how many good quality gents outfitters there were – obviously Harrogate men are extremely well dressed!  We left the town and did some food shopping and then drove back towards Mary H but stopped at the Cross Keys at East Marton for dinner (East Marton being where Penny and Jim left us last Monday).

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