JMW Turner: Harewood House
from the South-West
, 1798

Roger Fenton: The Terrace at Harewood House,

Jacob Epstein's Adam in the Entrance Hall,
designed by Robert Adam

The Picture Gallery in the 1960s, when the wooden'swags' were painted blue


Princess Mary's Sitting Room containing the State Bed and Chippendale's Diana and Minerva Commode, over which hangs Richard Conway's painting Mrs Scott and her Daughter.

Harewood House was built for Edwin Lascelles (1712-1795) between 1759 and 1771 on land he had inherited from his father Henry, who established the family’s fortune through merchant banking and sugar plantations in the West Indies.  An existing medieval house, Gawthorpe, stood on the estate but Edwin wanted something more befitting his status and commissioned a new one higher up the hill. Though the architect John Carr (1723–1807), the builder of many great Yorkshire houses, including Fairfax House in York, was responsible for the exterior and the layout of Harewood House the up-and-coming Robert Adam convinced Lascelles that he should ‘tickle up’ Carr’s plans. He designed and fitted out the interior with furniture by Chippendale, father and son, plasterwork by Joseph Rose and William Collins and painted panels by Angelica Kauffman and her husband Antonio Zucchi. The landscaping was by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Humphry Repton.

On Edwin’s death in 1795, with no direct male heir, the estate passed to his cousin Edward, the first Earl, who eventually also inherited estates at Plompton and Goldsborough as well as those in the West Indies. His son, also an Edward, who died before he could inherit, was a patron of J M W Turner and acquired Harewood’s Sevres collection.

Throughout their history, the Lascelles benefitted from financial windfalls that have been used to develop the house and its contents to make it what we see today.  In the 1830s, the 2nd Earl received compensation (£26,309 for 2,554 slaves on six plantations) awarded to slave-owners when slavery was abolished: the money facilitated the extension and modifications to Harewood carried out for his son by Charles Barry in the 1840s.  During the First World War, Viscount Henry Lascelles’ chance meeting with his great uncle, the eccentric Marquess of Clanricarde, resulted in the old man leaving him his extensive Irish estates, fortune and collection of important Italian and Flemish paintings that hang in the gallery today.  In 1922, Viscount Lascelles married Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary, in the first Royal Wedding ever held in public.

Leaflet for Harewood House, 1968

His death in 1947, after 20 years as the 6th Earl of Harewood, led to the sale of large parts of the estate to meet the payment of the heavy death duities (a factor that contributed to the break-up and destruction of many a stately home after the Second World War).  In order to make the estate viable, the 7th Earl, George Lascelles, became one of the first stately home owners to open his house and estate to the public.  He also pursued a distinguished career managing the Royal Opera House and English National Opera. The present Earl, David Lascelles, a film and television producer, inherited the title on the death of his father in 2011. Managed by a Trust since 1986, Harewood continues to attract visitors with its programme of exhibitions, concerts and events, its bird garden and adventure playground, and, of course, its magnificent house.


Christopher Christie The British Country House in the 18th Century, Manchester University Press, 2000.

Mark Girouard Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History, New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1978.

George Lascelles, Lord Harewood The Tongs and the Bones. The Memoirs of Lord Harewood, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1981.

Mary Mauchline Harewood House: One of the Treasure Houses of Britain, Tour & Explore Guides 1992.

Carol Kennedy Harewood: The Life and Times of an English Country House, London: Hutchinson, 1982.

Jim Maxon Harewood: Bronze Age to Broadband, Leicester: Matador, 2007.

Ivan Hall John Carr of York, Architect: a Pictorial Survey, Wakefield: Rickaro Books, 2013.

Edward Hyams Capability Brown and Humphry Repton, New York: Scribner, 1971.

David Hill Harewood Masterpieces: English Watercolours and Drawings, Harewood: Harewood House Trust, 1995.

Eileen Harris The Genius of Robert Adam: His Interiors, New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2001.

Harewood House
Harewood House YouTube channel
Wedding of the Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, 1922
Lord Harewood obituary
Lord Harewood obituary