Harewood Estate New Year Circular

Wishing all Miladys Readers a Very Happy and Peaceful New Year!

Very much closer to home than Fountains Abbey is the Harewood Estate. Just a few miles north of Leeds off the A61, Harrogate Road. I often take a circular walk around the wider estate but not within the immediate site of the House and Gardens which are currently closed until late March 2017.


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Noble Prospects : Capability Brown and the Yorkshire Landscape

Can I really have been have jotting down notes about my travels and interspersing the notes with my photos for five years already? I’ve just been looking back at my post about Capability Brown at Harewood and am amazed to see that the date was October 2011. My first post was dated 20 August 2011. And I’m stunned to see that that was five years ago to the day! Well I never.


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Remembrance : Horsforth WW1 Trail

Trail leaflet

All round the country there are commemorations this year to honour those hundreds of thousands of men and women killed during the First World War. They range from the now very well-known, much-visited and publicised “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” [the ‘evolving installation marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat’] (here is what Lynne – alias Dovegreyreader – wrote about her visit to the Tower) to our very own local WW1 trail along the main thoroughfare of Horsforth near Leeds.

Trail Map

My neighbour and I followed the trail last Tuesday and on Saturday I visited the related Exhibition in the local church hall. Somehow even though I have lived here much longer than I ever lived in Norwich I don’t feel as attached to Horsforth as I do to the place where I grew up.

Horsforth Cenotaph

212 are named on the brass panels the men and one woman who died in the first world war . It cost £720 and was unveiled by The Lord of the Manor Montague Spencer-Stanhope on Saturday 11th March 1922. The lectern in front was built in 1953 to honour the men from Horsforth who died in World War II.

Horsforth Cemetery


Cemetery Board

However, the trail and boards are very well done and tell some very sad tales and, interestingly, one woman is commemorated which, I believe, was unusual for the time.

F;lorence Hogg

Nurse Florence Hogg

Serving as a nurse didn’t make a woman immune from the effects of war. Florence Hogg, who worked at Horsforth Laundry, died of the ‘flu that she caught at Berrington War Hospital in Shrewsbury from a soldier, wounded at the Front. The following month it killed her mother too. The ‘flu virus killed over 20 million in 1918 and 1919 – even more than died in the war itself.

Florence Hogg

Florence Hogg’s Commonwealth War Grave in Horsforth Cemetery

We know of six Horsforth men who were in the Gallipoli Campaign, three of whom were killed. Professional sailor, 25 year old Percival Rodgers was killed aboard a submarine that was torpedoed. Another regular, James Swailes, was shot in the head by a sniper. The third man from Horsforth who died was 39 year old, Harry Taylor, who emigrated to Australia in 1898 and served with the Australian army.

War Gallipoli

James Swailes

James Swailes killed in the Gallipoli Campaign

In addition to further information boards and displays of medals and other artefacts from the First World War at the Exhibition we were able to watch a half hour documentary programme recorded for TV and published on 1 Oct this year.

This documentary film travels around the Ypres (Ieper) area of Belgium looking at locations that Yorkshire troops were involved in. Geoff Druett is taken around by an official tour guide. They set-off in the square in front of Ypres Cloth Hall, go to Essex Farm and learn about John McCrae’s “In Flanders Field” poem; cross the Yser Canaal to the Yorkshire Trench. Across town they wander around Hill 60 and visit Tyne Cot. Back in Ypres, Geoff visits the English Memorial Church and the film ends with the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Music : “World War I In Poetry And Music” by David Moore, John McCormack, Robert Donat, Siegfried Sassoon

The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915  during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium

Two Art Talks

Last week I went to two art talks and very interesting they were too. One was an evening reception at The Mercer Gallery in Harrogate organised by the Art Fund. The other was ‘Tea with the Curator’ at Temple Newsam House near Leeds.


Self-portrait of Frank Holl as a young man [source]

Frank Holl : Emerging from the Shadows [Mercer Gallery, Harrogate 23 November 2013 to 30 March 2014]

‘Frank Holl (1845-1888) is one of the great painters of the Victorian period, notable for his tragic social realism as well as his penetrating portraits. Revered in his lifetime, he died young whilst at the height of his powers. His early death meant that he never fully received the acclaim that his work merited. This exhibition represents the first modern retrospective of this significant artist.’ 

I have been aware of Holl since the mid-1990s when one of my masters papers in Victorian Studies was on the subject of narrative paintings with a theme of poverty and the poor in Victorian England. The Holl picture we looked at was The Seamstresses now owned by The Royal Albert Museum in Exeter. It is on show at the Harrogate exhibition.


Seamstresses. Frank Holl. 1875. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter.

Jane Sellars, curator of the Mercer Gallery, introduced Holl and told us more about his life and travels and spoke about each of the, perhaps 30, paintings. It was interesting to note the themes of Holl’s narrative paintings on loan from prestigious galleries around the country, including The National Portrait Gallery – soldiers off to fight in Afghanistan, sweatshops, guilty bankers – all themes that appear in the news today. So not much has changed there. Jane pointed out the “Rembrandtesque” effect in many of these paintings.


No Tidings from the Sea. Frank Holl. 1870. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust. [source]

Even Queen Victoria bought one of his pictures No Tidings from the Sea (1870 and  in The Royal Collection). Later Holl gained commissions to paint portraits and his subjects included national figures like William Gladstone and W.S.Gilbert. The BBC ‘Your Paintings’ website shows 68 of his paintings. Jane quoted several times from his eldest daughter’s, Ada Mabel Reynolds,  1912 biography of her father. There is an accompanying book/catalogue to the show. Earlier last year the exhibition was shown at the newly refurbished Watts Gallery in Surrey. In Harrogate the pictures have been hung beautifully for ease of viewing and the lighting is excellent for all except maybe one glazed picture.

Last May on a visit to Highgate Cemetery I noticed his tomb and photographed it.

Frank Holl tomb

The Tomb of Frank Holl in Highgate Cemetery

I’m very pleased that Frank Holl is at last emerging from the shadows.

Rembrandt : etchings from the Collection of Leeds City Art Gallery [Temple Newsam House 19 November 2013 – 20 July 2014]

TNH side view

It’s very difficult to get a ‘front on’ view of Temple Newsam. The land drops away significantly from the front of the house and a wider angled camera lens is required to capture it closer up. The photo above is of the side view. Temple Newsam’s history goes back beyond the Domesday Book. Lord Darnley former husband of Mary Queen of Scots was born here in 1545.

Stable Block

The Stable Courtyard makes a much better view

So, last Thursday afternoon I made my way to Temple Newsam for Tea with the Curator of the Rembrandt Etchings Display.

This season’s Winter/Spring exhibition at Temple Newsam House offers the rare chance to see a selection of prints made by the greatest printmaker the world has ever seen – Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn (1606 – 1665). The exhibition will run for nine months and will consist of two displays; the first will examine Rembrandt’s portraits and figure studies and the second, will showcase a selection of Rembrandt’s biblical prints.

Rembrandt’s career as a printmaker ran parallel with his painting, but he rarely treated the same subject in both medium and only on a few occasions did he reproduce his paintings in print. Indeed for Rembrandt, print was a distinct art form which he pursued as actively as he did his painting; quickly learning the technical skills involved in etching Rembrandt virtually recreated this technique. His impact and contribution to printmaking is unprecedented and is so significant that it is still reflected in etchings produced today.

Rembrandt poster
Portraits and People, 19th November 2013 – 30th March 2014
Bringing together Rembrandt’s prints of people the first half to this exhibition will focus on his early experimental prints in which Rembrandt developed both his technique and his interest in showing emotion and thought through detailed observations of facial expressions. Highlights include a selection of Rembrandt’s iconic self-portraits, etchings of his mother and wife Saskia and a group of Rembrandt’s prints of beggars.


The Artist’s Mother [source]

Theodore, the curator, and I and four others assembled in the Dining Room for a friendly discussion and an opportunity to examine etching and engraving tools. The tool box and tools themselves that Theodore brought along had all been the property of Frank Brangwyn. Theodore explained the processes and their differences to us before taking us upstairs to the small but excellent display of Rembrandt etchings.

Frank Brangwyn's tools

Frank Brangwyn’s Etching Tools

The etchings themselves are small and exquisite and beautifully displayed. Magnifying glasses are supplied through which we could study the minute detail of each print.

Tes is served

Tea and cake and biscuits are served

On returning to the Dining Room for tea and cakes we had further opportunities to examine at close quarters etchings and tools and a brief slideshow of a 16th  century printmaking shop which reminded me of my visit last month to the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp.

The current etching display will be replaced next month by a further series from the 70 or so donated to the Art Gallery on the theme of Rembrandt and the Bible.

Art and Life 1920-1931: Studio Pottery

Until yesterday I thought a pot was a pot. What a difference a knowledgable speaker makes to the appreciation of art! In this case I’m talking about studio pottery and the pots on display at the Art and Life, 1920-1931 exhibition currently showing at Leeds City Art Gallery (but only until Sunday 12 January). The exhibition will then head down to Kettles Yard in Cambridge and thence to The Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London.

Art and Life 1

On some Thursdays throughout the year Leeds Art Gallery presents 30 minute free lunchtime talks. Yesterday the lunchtime talk was extended to 50 minutes and the visiting speaker, Dinah Winch from Gallery Oldham, told our small assembled group about the pots displayed in Art and Life. They were all made by William Staite Murray.

Art and Life 2

These pots, which I would have given barely a glance to before, I now look at quite differently. A stripey vase and a rough brown dish became works of art before my very eyes. The pots matched with the paintings and many appear in Winifred Nicholson’s paintings demonstrating the ideal light in which to view them – natural sunlight through the window – not the artificial light from above the glass cases in the gallery.

Polyanthus and Cineraria

Nicholson’s Polyanthus and Cineraria [source]

The stripey vase entitled The Bather was very tall and striking. Photography was not allowed and I have been unable to find a suitable picture to reproduce here. Most of the pots (including The Bather) came from York City Art Gallery (which is undergoing a big refurbishment over the next couple of years) and a couple from Kettles Yard. I visited Kettles Yard in 2011. It is a lovely homely gallery full of art and craft of the Art and Life era.

In Kettles Yard

Inside Kettles Yard (Ben Nicholson’s Bertha (No.2) on the right)

Here is what the Exhibition Guide says about Murray and his pots :

William Staite Murray was one of the leading artists of his time. Murray eschewed any functionality for pots and viewed pottery as a fundamental abstract art lying between painting and sculpture. Inspired by the Chinese Sung dynasty pots that had begun to appear in London, his pots are emotionally expressive with imaginative titles, all of which appealed to the Nicholsons with whom he was friends and exhibited widely. Ben Nicholson keenly distributed pictures by Alfred Wallis amongst his friends, and sent one to Murray, noting that it reminded him of one of Murray’s pots. We can only muse as to the exact link as it is not known which picture by Wallis Ben sent. Winifred gives us an idea for she wrote of one of Murray’s pots as having “the elemental depth of the sea.” When Ben Nicholson saw Murray’s solo exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1931 he wrote “one big brown pot is one of the finest things I have ever seen.” Persian Garden was exhibited in the Lefevre exhibition, and widely seen as one of Murray’s masterpieces, it is probable this was the pot referred to by Nicholson. By the late 1920s remarkably Murray had a higher reputation than the Nicholsons. Arguably as good a potter as Bernard Leach, subsequently Murray’s reputation has suffered, perhaps partly because in 1939 he left England and with the outbreak of war settled abroad. Sadly he did not pot again.

I hope this brief introduction and excellent lecture will set me up for my visit later this month to the Matthew Darbyshire installation using the pottery collection of W.A.Ismay at The Hepworth in Wakefield.

Other bloggers have written about this wonderful exhibition here and here.

Built for Comfort not for Defence : Harewood Castle

Sunday 14th October was the 946th anniversary of The Battle of Hastings. Our guide Sally Lawless deemed it therefore a fitting date on which to embark on one of a series of new initiatives at the Harewood EstateThe Harewood Castle Tour.

Earlier in the year I’d picked up the leaflet ‘Medieval Harewood 2012 : step back in time … ‘  This outlined a series of events, workshops, tours, tours and walks. Of course, it was the walk that appealed to me. I’d seen some of the archaeological dig results at Gawthorpe Hall last October on my ‘Capability Brown’ walk and I decided earlier in the week to sign up to visit Harewood Castle today.

We all assembled in All Saints Church the Harewood Estate church which is now under the protection of the Churches Conservation Trust. Sally gave us a brief introduction to the church and the Harewood Estate in general. We were shown the important Alabaster Tombs – 6 pairs comprising some of the best surviving examples in England. All the figures represented had played a part in the history of the Castle.

Close up of an alabaster beadsman or professional mourner

Then our walk began, through the churchyard where many of the estate and household workers are now buried, and out down a track to the public footpath Church Lane. This is was the former turnpike road between Tadcaster and Otley. It cuts through what was formerly the northern pleasure grounds of the Estate.

Sunken  tracks like this criss-cross the Harewood Pleasure Grounds

Peering over the wall we were fascinated to see the various tunnels and trenches which passed under the road so that  the vicar could reach his church and the local inhabitants cross the Estate without being seen by the Lord and Lady and their family and guests.

The Ha-ha approach to the Castle

From Church Lane we entered the original Harewood village and proceeded down a deep walled public footpath to the Ha-ha which separated the Pleasure Grounds from the Deer Park –  where we could still see deer today.

Harewood Castle built into the hillside looks out over Wharfedale

The Castle itself now stands very near to the A61 main road between Leeds and Harrogate but despite its size and proximity it’s almost impossible to see it from the road. There has been some tree clearance in the area lately and the view across Wharfedale can be seen more clearly.

Castle with Turner watercolour from similar standpoints

After hearing more about the history of the castle, comparing Turner’s watercolour views with today’s view we were admitted into the ruin and able to inspect more closely the layout and remains of the Harewood Tower House.

Following the path in a loop around the castle (it’s not open to the general public) we retraced our steps to the church where the tour finished.

Harewood Castle is technically not a castle but a fortified manse, a converted manor house. A ‘licence to crenellate’ (to fortify) was granted to William De Aldeburgh in the mid-14th century. Two families, the Redmaynes and the Rythers, whose tombs are in Harewood church, shared occupation during the 15th and 16th centuries. It was abandoned in the early 17th century and its stone and ornamental masonry plundered for use in other buildings nearby. By the late 18th century it was a picturesque ruin, painted by Turner, Varley, De Wint, Cotman and Buckler. It remained in that condition until 2004 when stabilisation work was carried out with financial support from English Heritage and matched funding from the Harewood Estate.”

The View over Wharfedale

“The Gleaming Figure whom Providence has brought to us in Times when the Present is Hard and the Future Veiled” (Winston Churchill) : Images of Our Queen in Leeds

This weekend we will celebrate sixty years of our Queen’s reign. I have no particular plans and in fact I will be working on Saturday and on Monday. But yesterday and today I visited two complementary exhibitions of photographs of Her Majesty currently on display in Leeds.

Marcus Adams, Royal Photographer at Harewood House

Currently showing at Harewood House just eight miles north of Leeds is an exhibition of photographs by Marcus Adams. MA was already in his fifties when he started taking Royal photographs of the young Princess Elizabeth and her sister the Princess Margaret and her Mother Queen Elizabeth. The pictures are beautiful in their simplicity and I noted a very pertinent quotation by Adams from The Listener magazine “The essential of a perfect picture is its simplicity”. (9 Feb. 1939). He has no truck with furniture and clutter – the children themselves are sufficient subjects in his photographs. Most of the pictures are of Elizabeth as a young Princess plus much later pictures of her two older children Charles and Anne. These later charming photos were taken when Adams was in his eighties.

Leeds City Museum

Currently showing at Leeds City Museum is a collection of photographs by Sir Cecil Beaton. The exhibition comes to Leeds from the Victoria and Albert Museum and it would be nice to think that this partnership will continue and that we may have further V&A curated exhibitions in here in Leeds in future.

The pictures here really complement the Adams pictures of The Queen. The tradition began in 1939 when Queen Elizabeth the wife of King George VI invited CB to take her and her daughters’ photographs. Several of the earliest pictures taken during the 1940s show the Princess Elizabeth in fairy like dresses and with romantic backdrops such as those seen in the masterpiece paintings of Gainsborough and Fragonard. Many of the gowns designed by Norman Hartnell. By contrast I particularly loved the picture of the fifteen year old Princess as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards.

There’s a much more modern look to the later Beaton photographs of the Queen with her two youngest sons. They are modern images with simple white backgrounds.

Cecil Beaton was appointed official portrait photographer for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. The display includes several of these and includes family groups of the Gloucesters and Kents and you can take a break and sit down to watch the silent loop of the ceremony itself.

Have a happy Jubilee Weekend and God Save the Queen!

“I am just going outside and may be some time”: a very gallant gentleman.

Captain Lawrence Oates

Yesterday I heard on the national BBC Radio 4 news that there was to be the unveiling of a plaque in memory of Captain Lawrence Oates in Meanwood Park in Leeds.

Lawrence Oates Memorial

My interest was piqued as many years ago I visited Selborne in Hampshire where the Lawrence Oates Museum is located in the attic area of Gilbert White’s The Wakes.

More recently, of course, I had read Cherry’s ‘The worst journey in the world’ and visited the Polar Research Institute in Cambridge and attended the Antarctica talks in January at The Leeds Library.

As I work in the library on Saturdays I was unable to attend the unveiling but I went along today – parking nearby at Waitrose – and visited the park to view, along with many other visitors, the plaque and information boards.

Lawrence Oates’ connection with the Meanwood area of Leeds has long been commemorated by a stone plaque on the gatepost of Holy Trinity church and there’s a brass plaque in the Leeds Parish Church, which I have yet to see.

From the Oates Collection website :

Captain Lawrence Oates (1880 – 1912) 
Captain Lawrence Oates is best remembered as the brave Antarctic hero who was chosen to be part of Captain Robert Scott’s team to undertake the epic journey of discovery to the South Pole 1911-12. The ill-fated expedition turned into a race for the pole when the explorers learnt of the presence of the Norwegian team led by Admundsen. Scott’s team suffered inadequate food supplies, severe weather conditions and failing health so Oates sacrificed his life in the hope of saving his comrades, leaving the tent in a terrible blizzard with the famous last words “I am just going outside and may be some time.” His body has never been found.”