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Visiting the Stately Homes of Yorkshire: Harewood House Gardens

Those who have an interest in the historical stately homes and gardens of the UK will perhaps already know that Yorkshire boasts the highest concentration of stately homes of anywhere in England. Harewood House is one such example, with offerings as rich and as and colourful as the house and gardens themselves.

Commissioned by Edwin Lascelles in the 18th century, Harewood house was originally founded and funded by money made by Lascelles; father in the West Indian sugar trade. Harewood House has remained in the Lascelles family ever since, an amount of time that spans over an impressive 250 years. The house is the family home of the Earl of the 8th Earl of Harewood, film producer David Henry George Lascelles, and his wife Patricia, Countess of Harewood.

The mansion itself is a sight to behold. The Georgian mansion sits amongst the idyllic Yorkshire landscape, overlooking a spectacularly landscaped view created by none other than sir Lancelot “Capability” Brown, arguably the most famous of all English landscape designers during the late 18th and 19th centuries. With over 100 acres of garden, Harewood House Gardens has one of the most diverse gardens anywhere, with varieties of plants sourced from all over the globe. Keen gardeners will definitely want to pay the gardens a visit, as Head Gardener Trevor Nicholson (Horticulture Week’s Head Gardener of the Year 2008) keeps a keen eye all of the gardens, including the Terrace, Himalayan, Lakeside, and Walled Gardens. The Terrace was built by Sir Charles Barry in the 1840s, and offers spectacular views of the Yorkshire countryside. The lower-level Parterre houses a row of stately fountains, while the upper level is home to the recently-opened Terrace tearooms. The Himalayan Garden boasts over 50 types of rhododendron, blue poppies, and the Harewood Stupa, a Buddhist monument built in 2004 by monks from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. The Lakeside garden covers an area spanning thirty two acres on either side of the picturesque lake, and is covered in woodlands boasting a variety of tree species. At the far side of the lake lies the Walled Garden; the oldest garden at Harewood whose original intent was to supply the Harewood kitchens with fresh fruit and vegetables.

Perhaps one of the most popular outdoor attractions at Harewood House is the Harewood Bird Garden, located directly opposite the Walled Garden. Guests can wander the various aviaries that house indigenous, endangered, and critically threatened birds in environments that mimic their natural habitats. Some of the highlights of the Harewood Bird Garden include the flamingo, owl, and penguin habitats. The penguin habitat in particular is a very unique attraction, housing a flock of 11 Humboldt penguins. Humboldt penguins are indigenous to Peru in South America, and the Harewood house penguin habitat has been adapted to resemble this environment. The habitat first opened in August of 1989, and to this day twenty-five years later, three of the original flock are still alive, well, and going strong. Guests who are over 10 years of age can also get an up-close and personal look at the penguins by assisting the keepers at feeding time. There is a £10 fee to do this, but guests that have participated in this activity come away with memories of the event that will last a lifetime.