Harewood Castle

Harewood Castle

Harewood Castle is a 19th-century country house in Harewood, West Yorkshire, England. The house was commissioned by Earl Fitzwilliam to serve as an ornamental residence for his mother, who had recently inherited the nearby Wentworth Woodhouse estate.

Built between 1843-8, it was designed by Charles Barry in a neoclassical style and retains much of its original decoration. It has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building and occupies an important position on the skyline on account of its elevated situation surrounded by woodlands and close to the M1 motorway.

In 1807, Henry Pelham-Clinton, son and heir of the 5th Duke of Newcastle, died from injuries received after falling from his horse while riding in London. His death brought to an end a centuries-old link between the Fitzwilliam family and their historic seat at Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham. The family had been responsible for erecting a mansion on the site during the 17th century but in 1775 they moved to Derbyshire. In 1841, when he was 76 years old, Henry Pelham Clinton’s great nephew William Fitzwilliam inherited his title and estates. He decided to move back to Yorkshire and commissioned the architect Charles Barry for the design of a new mansion.

Barry was commissioned in 1842 to design a new mansion. The building that was built, completed between 1843 and 1848, cost £317,047 (equivalent to £28,250,000 in 2015). Viscount Milton Keynes remains the present occupant of Harewood House.

The architect responsible for the building was Charles Barry who enlarged a small house for William Fitzwilliam’s use as an occasional home and designed a magnificent castle that would serve as a reminder of Wentworth Woodhouse. Work started in 1843; there were 1,100 workmen employed and six years elapsed before completion.

The two main wings have identical elevations and are linked by a semicircular domed vestibule. The principal rooms are contained in the two right wings. The curved double-flight staircase is lit by a cupola. The fireplaces have richly decorated moulded marble surrounds on an ashlar ground.

Barry’s assistant, William Railton, designed the interiors which included plasterwork by Vincent Massey and woodcarving by Thomas Earp of Darfield. The house was built from stone from nearby Barnsley and heather used for internal and external wall decoration came from the Wentworth estate.

A 3-ton bell hangs in the center of the main entrance hall. Made and hung by John Warner & Sons at their Bellfoundry in Clerkenwell, London it was positioned on a specially constructed timber floor which allowed it to be swung. In 1857 it was reported that “The ringing of this bell is considered lucky and anyone who can ring twice on one throw will have his wish granted.” There is a fine example of an Imperial Crown Coat of Arms over the front door. It is constructed from oak and was carved at Wentworth Woodhouse by Samuel Newberry.

The main building has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade I listed building, which is defined as “a building of outstanding architectural or historic interest”. The gatehouse and bridge across the dry moat are also Grade I listed. The stable block and the 18th-century park wall and entrances are listed Grade II*.

Overlooking the south front is a large terrace garden containing a statue of Lord Milton Keynes by Philip Jackson. The statue was unveiled on 10 April 2010. In 2010, part of the art collection was displayed in an exhibition at Christie’s in London where several pictures sold at prices between £15,000 – £230,000 for a family portrait by Thomas Gainsborough.

The house was remodelled in the mid 19th century by William Burn and included Art Deco style features. These were removed in the 1970s but a number of rooms retain their original decoration. In recent years, a large number of paintings have been added to the house’s collection, particularly portraits by Gainsborough and Reynolds, as well as notable works by Reynolds’ pupil Joshua Reynolds and his son Sir Joshua Reynolds. The dining room contains a portrait of Queen Victoria painted at Harewood shortly after her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. The library is decorated with trompe l’oeil bookcases painted on the wall and ceilings decorated with gilt cherubs holding books on gold stands inspired by those at Wilton House.

In the Green Drawing Room, there is a large painting by Daniel Maclise depicting “The Judgement of Paris” which depicts the three Fates measuring out the thread of life. After this room, there is a corridor with trompe l’oeil windows overlooking a rotunda in front of the house. This leads to a number of reception rooms on the ground floor, each with its own decoration and fireplace.

The Entrance Hall has walls hung with pictures and large scagliola columns supporting an elaborate coffered roof decorated in blue with gold stars on a white ground designed by Richard Westmacott. In the Green Dining Room, the fireplace is decorated with painted eagles and dolphins.

The bedrooms all have their own fireplaces and other decoration. There is a billiard room with onyx features inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain. The house contains five original bathrooms (including two in the White Drawing Room). The basement of the house contains kitchen offices, wine cellars and other service rooms.

In 2004 a 1,000-year lease of Hamilton Palace was sold by Charles, Duke of Hamilton to Wentworth Estates, on behalf of its then owner John Taylor. This was at an undisclosed price but it is believed to have been between £4m and £6m.
The structure was built in the 1730s for the family of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and the first Earl of Aldborough. It is one of only two houses in Europe to have been built entirely out of Palazzo Corner soffit bricks (flat bricks with a bevelled outer face, and sanded internal side). The other house is Roos Hall near Selby.

Hamilton Palace has been open to visitors since 2003. In 2004 a £17m visitor centre was opened with a gallery and events space which included an exhibition about the history of Hamilton Palace.

The palace is a member-owned museum run by Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust on behalf of its members.

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Amy Green

Hi, my name is Amy and I am a UK based teacher and blogger. I spent most of my childhood summers exploring castles of England and Wales, and most of my adulthood teaching humanities in Secondary schools. I love visiting and learning about Norman and Medieval Castles.

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