Glamour, pianos and French finesse: Museums at Night at Harewood House in Leeds

By Ben Miller | 15 May 2014

Near Leeds, Harewood House reaches back to its mid-18th century roots for a magnificent Museums at Night Thursday

A photo of the outside of a huge mansion on landscaped green grounds
The terrace at Harewood House will welcome visitors this Museums at Night© Paul Barker / Harewood House Trust
Decadence, glamour and romance reside within Harewood House, a Georgian mansion with John Carr-designed architecture, Robert Adam interiors, Thomas Chippendale furnishings and a Capability Brown landscapes.

In the old kitchen, where Danny Beecham, the Chef in the Private Household of Patricia, the Countess of Harewood intertwines his ingredients, the table alone is more than 250 years old.

A photo of the beautiful inside of a drawing room inside an art-strewn Georgian house
The Steinway Grand Piano will echo from The Music Room© Paul Barker / Harewood House Trust
“It’s seen a lot,” says Learning Co-ordinator Zoë White, looking forward to demonstrations by the chef in a Museums at Night special with a French twist at the spectacular Leeds setting.

“You can see all the knife marks on the table. It’s really fascinating.

“Danny is the chef in the private household. He’s cooked all kinds of dinners here for VIPs.

“He’s been looking at the Encyclopaedia of Practical Cookery and coming at it from a French perspective.

“I’m actually just typing up his recipes as we speak with all the different things that he’s making.”

Legend has it that one of the concoctions visitor will see being prepared, Chicken Marango, was first made when Napoleon’s chef cooked it before a battle with Austrian forces in 1800. They’re also well stocked with wine and cheese, which you can enjoy as the sun goes down on the terrace.

“One of the big things that we don’t usually get to do is play the piano,” says White, describing the mighty Steinway Grand Piano in the Music Room.

A photo of two purple-coloured flowers against a yellow wall inside a Georgian mansion
In Pursuit of the Exquisite: Royal Sèvres from Versailles to Harewood, the House's major current exhibition© Jonathan Turner / Harewood House Trust
“So that’s going to be lovely because you can hear it all through the house – there are perfect acoustics for it.”

The House’s new exhibition, on the beautiful Sèvres first made in Versailles in 1740, will also be open, accompanied by talks from the experts who know most about it.

“It’s the other side of the French theme – an exhibition of all our French porcelain, looking at its journey, really, that it’s made from the French court when the sèvre factory was started.

“There’s the turbulent history of the pieces, how they came across to England, how they survived the French Revolution. There are some really exquisite pieces in that.”

Downstairs, three contemporary artists give a modern take on a set of works which continue to be produced to this day. Merging history with artistic finesse, this country house’s night owes much to Gallic greatness.

  • is at Harewood House on May 15 2014. Tickets £8/£5 (£6/£4 in advance). Book online or telephone 0113 218 1000.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of various blue pieces of china inside a case within a georgian drawing room
© Jonathan Turner / Harewood House Trust
A photo of the drawing room of a Georgian mansion with various paintings around it
© Jonathan Turner / Harewood House Trust
A close up photo of various types of porcelain sculpture within a georgian house
© Jonathan Turner / Harewood House Trust
A photo of elaborate chairs and candelabras within a georgian house drawing room
© Paul Barker / Harewood House Trust
A close-up photo of an ornate red and yellow chair within a georgian mansion
© Paul Barker / Harewood House Trust
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