Step Into the Past at Harewood

“We are what we make.” This is the theme we encountered today when we pulled up to Harewood House known as Yorkshire’s most vibrant home. Not sure what this was about, we soon learned the exhibition celebrates 26 makers and how their craft can play in culture, identity, and society. In every room, a different craft was featured. For example, the craft of doing woodwork around the floors and ceilings was introduced with the story of the craftsman along with what being a maker means to them. Other crafts included the art of weaving rugs, designing textiles, decorating tiles, and even the art of making ballet slippers and each craft was carefully described in the artist’s own words,

While most heritage homes celebrate the wealthy family who lives in the home, this home told the stories of those who worked below the main floors. We heard recorded stories from cooks, housemaids, and cleaners.

Outside the grand house is a garden terrace designed with shrubs trimmed into geometric pyramids. Flower beds are meticulously maintained along with pools with statues.

What was perhaps most enchanting were the activities for children, A small farm animal exhibit allowed children to watch, but not pet, goats, alpacas, and exotic birds. Children were also directed to a mini beast trail where they could capture a bug, sketch it in the art area, and release it back into nature.

Just down the hill from the house is a small lake with a tiny ferry only big enough for 12 people. Pulled by chains, it picks up passengers every 6 minutes. On the other side of the lake we found a delightful walled in pleasure garden with 36 speakers disguised as bird houses, placed throughout the garden. As you move about, mystical music plays along with sounds of nature. I am not sure it was a place for 4 year olds to play a rousing game of hide and seek as we saw, but it was very relaxing to be there.

Tonight we decided to find a restaurant serving fish and chips. It was delicious and came served with mushy peas. We talked about our day at Harewood. I think what was most extraordinary for me was I left knowing more about all the people who helped make that house a home rather than the people who actually lived there. That made it a really special experience for me.

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