On Monday I took an early train north to York, left my suitcase at the hotel, and headed off to Harewood (which can be pronounced either hairwood or hahrwood, depending on the person with whom you are speaking).
My overall reaction to Harewood is… Robert Adam! I don’t know how the man got around to accomplishing so much in England’s great houses in one lifetime, but from now on I will judge all of the ones I visit by the quality of their Robert Adam touches (or lack of it).
Oh yes, I suppose I should mention the excellent work by Charles Barry and the Chippendale furniture too. Utterly fabulous!
In later years, Harewood was the home of Queen Elizabeth’s aunt, the Princess Mary, after she married the sixth Earl of Harewood, Henry Lascelles, who served in the First World War.
Castle Howard was originally built in 1700 by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who was a younger son of the Duke of Norfolk. Yes, Catherine Howard, unfortunate fifth wife of Henry VIII, was of the same family, but she predated the house. John Vanbrugh, the architect, was also the architect for Blenheim Palace, which is spectacular in itself.
The 4th and 5th earls traveled widely on the continent and were great collectors. The current earl lives at another house, and this one is owned by a private trust, headed by Carlisle family members.
Castle Howard is well-known for being the setting of the popular Brideshead Revisited television series.
The 6th countess was the eldest daughter of the 5th Duke of Devonshire and his wife Georgiana. She became the mother of 12 children, and you can see her bedroom in the photos.
One of my favorite books of all time is Jane Eyre, and I loved Wuthering Heights as well. So visiting the parsonage where the Brontë family lived with their vicar father was a significant milestone. Very different from the magnificent houses I’ve been visiting on this trip! Startling to hear that nearly half of all children born at this time died before the age of six, and poor Rev. Brontë saw his wife and all his children die before he did.
The Foundling Museum
If you ever wondered what happened to England’s abandoned children, this museum tells the sobering story of the Foundling Hospital, Britain’s first home for abandoned children. Mothers who left their children there also left tokens (buttons, jewelry, coins, or whatever they had) to identify their children in case their circumstances changed and they could claim them someday. Unfortunately, most of the children were never claimed. At the ages of 9-14, children were sent away to be apprentices or servants. It wasn’t an ideal situation, but at least the children were fed and clothed and educated up to a point, which was certainly better than being left to die in the streets, which was a common practice in some areas. Sadly, much of society shunned the offspring of prostitutes or unmarried couples and really didn’t consider it a great loss if they died.
Another focus of the museum is the founder, Thomas Coram, as well as supporters William Hogarth and George Frideric Handel and a large collection of paintings donated to the hospital that were used to entice potential contributors to come to the hospital.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Beautiful and impressive. Admiral Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington are buried in the crypt.
Spent a day walking around York and shopping. Did the Richard III Experience and Squidgeworth got put in jail for a short time, but he smiled all the way through it. Nothing gets him down, not even getting shut up in that tiny cell.
Sadly, less than a week remains before Squidgeworth and I fly back across the pond.
So much to see, so little time!