Found on the northern outskirts of Leeds, Harewood House remains one of the city’s most historic and recognisable buildings. This 18th century structure is surrounded by some of the best countryside West Yorkshire has to offer, including 100 acres of gardens that attract thousands of visitors every year.
Construction work began at Harewood House in 1759, after being ordered by Edwin Lascelles, a Barbadian-born landowner. He had gained most of his wealth from his father, who had amassed a fortune in West India. Henry Lascelles left his son £408,747, which would equate to around £52 million in today’s money.
Edwin Lascelles soon got to work on spending his fortune, and tasked architects Robert Adam and John Carr with designing a lavish property. His brief was to create a home that would give him nothing short of the best – and that’s certainly what he got!
Robert Adam was well known as a fashionable interior designer of his day, and York-born architect John Carr was also deemed to be one of the best in the business. Furniture maker Thomas Chippendale and landscape gardener Lancelot Brown – or Capability Brown as he is often known – were also involved in making Harewood House the masterpiece it is today.
Harewood House is home to a host of unique and opulent rooms, many of which are still in use to this very day. From the gallery with its ornate ceiling to the tall bookcases of the Spanish library, this is a property that is as timeless as it is elegant.
Although the exterior of Harewood House is undoubtedly striking, there are also some quite interesting features that aren’t easily seen by the naked eye. The Old Kitchen, for example, has a roof that is shaped in the same way as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.
Close to Harewood House is All Saints Church, which also comes with its own unique history. Not only has the church served the Earls of Harewood for many centuries, but it has offered historical insight into the entire estate. When a roof replacement was carried out in the 18th century, an inscription was found carved into one of the beams, which read “we adore and praise thee thou holy Jesus, because thou hast redeemed us by thy Holy Cross, 1116”.
Although Edwin Lascelles was the first Baron of Harewood, there have been many more generations after him. Descendants still live in the property today, and the estate plays an important role for local people in the surrounding area.
Over recent years, Harewood House has played host to pop concerts and provided the backdrop to various films and TV shows. In fact, the estate has been the primary location for filming ITV soap Emmerdale. A purpose-built outdoor set has been constructed for the show and is not accessible to the public.
Visitors head to the house and gardens in their droves year after year to see what is one of Britain’s finest examples of 18th century architecture.