Harewood House Seeks Family Connections For History Research

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 08 September 2008
A black and white old photograph of men harvesting

Image - Bringing in the harvest. Harewood House is visible through the trees. Courtesy Harewood House

Harewood House near Leeds is seeking out people who have family connections to this Yorkshire estate.

While the Lascelles family took up residence in 1771 and continue to live there, curators at Harewood are looking for people whose ancestors were employed in the house, grounds and on the farmland.

The range of employment on the Harewood estate was, like that found at other country houses, very wide. Jobs included butlers and housemaids, farmers and foresters as well as mole-catchers and gamekeepers. In later years, people were employed as electricians and chauffeurs, reflecting the changing lives and roles of those needed to keep such estates running smoothly.

Mick Stanley, Head of Collections, Learning and Access at Harewood House said: “Since Harewood was built, hundreds of people will have worked both in the house and on the estate. We have located the identities of a number of them through old wages books and other documentation and through word of mouth from their relatives contacting us or visiting Harewood."

As well as seeking family connections, the curators at Harewood are looking for images and old photographs of the people who worked at and around the Palladian country house.

A black and white old photograph of a team of firefighters

Recognise any relatives? Curators urge people to get in touch if they have Harewood house connections. Courtesy Harewood House

This search for old memories of working life at Harewood is part of a wider venture called Work and Play. The outcome of this project is a series of exhibitions exploring the lives linked to Yorkshire country estates, beyond the wealthy families who occupied these sumptuous country houses.

The other partners in Work and Play are Brodsworth Hall, Burton Constable and Temple Newsham.

While Work and Play exhibitions have already been shown at these three houses, the Harewood research continues throughout 2008.

Along with Harewood House, the other houses collaborating in Work and Play are members of the Yorkshire Country House Partnership (YCHP). This alliance was set up by the University of York to assist research into these important places. As well as the four Work and Play houses, YCHP also includes Castle Howard, Nostell Priory and Lotherton Hall.

The importance to Yorkshire of the historical research being performed at these houses is reflected in the fact that by the end of the 19th century, over half of the county of Yorkshire was incorporated into such estates. Their associated houses, farms, grounds and villages provided employment and accommodation for thousands of people.

Anyone with memories, connections, photographs or other interesting information or documents about the lives of people who worked at the Harewood House estate should write to Work and Play, c/o The House Manager, Harewood House, Harewood, Leeds, LS17 9LG. Alternatively send an email to curator@harewood.org or telephone 0113 218 1010.

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