I actually really enjoyed the new Emma movie, but I’d need to watch it more times to write a post about it (the fabrics alone are incredible!), but I am going to be talking about a different movie this month: Downton Abbey. I did not know that the movie had filmed at Harewood before I went last year, but as I started reading more about it I was pleased to see they’d filmed scenes there. Mary, the Princess Royal (daughter of King George V and Queen Mary) features in the film along with her parents, and she was married to Viscount Lascelles (who was later Earl of Harewood), so it’s natural that the movie would film in a place she actually lived.

You can see some of the architectural marks she left upon the house, such as her dressing-room, which includes her cipher:

M made in ceiling plaster

wider view of plaster ceiling

It’s a pretty room, although of a later architectural period than I’m generally interested in. The lapis lazuli inlaid fireplace is particularly beautiful:

dress in front of fireplace

As you can tell, however, the view of the best feature of the room is blocked by a giant dress, for unfortunately I when I visited they were putting on an exhibition of crafts. While I’m all for them doing things like this, and I might even have enjoyed seeing the crafts had they been exhibited elsewhere (at Nostell, exhibits were kept in the lower level in old service rooms that had not been restored), when they’re interrupting the design and architecture of the rooms, they’re just annoying.

I’d come to the house because it was another Robert Adam / Thomas Chippendale collaboration, and frankly to put local craftspeoples’ work up against the masterpieces of these two who were the pinnacle of an entire era, executed by master craftsmen, just made a lot of the modern stuff look crass and poorly executed. I think that’s why I started focusing on details of the Georgian-era craftsmanship even more than I usually do; when I went back through my photos I found tons and tons of details. So I thought I would share even more photos than I usually do, with less commentary, although I will pop in with some occasional bits on the most noteworthy items.

fireplace and plasterwork

plasterwork ceiling

games table in library

plasterwork and painting above fireplace

plaster ceiling

marble carving on fireplace

bust in niche above door

These library steps were by Chippendale.

plaster ceiling

doorknob with gilded decoration

gilded four-poster bed
The Chinese wallpaper in this bedroom was originally hung in another room, then cut down and stored away for almost 200 years before it was installed in this room. The bed was by Chippendale.

gilded mirror and wallpaper

curtains and wallpaper

This clothes press was also by Chippendale.


plaster ceiling

gilded mirror

ruched curtain


Unfortunately they’ve put a temporary coverlet on the magnificent Chippendale state bed…it’s actually a rather interesting modern-style toile but the way they displayed it isn’t doing either the fabric or the bed justice.

gilded mirror

plasterwork ceiling

Chippendale commode

gilded Ionic column

closed shutters
You don’t often see Georgian shutters closed on these tours, so I snagged a photo!


plasterwork ceiling
I haven’t been commenting on each of the Robert Adam ceilings but they are truly each works of art. Amazing detail.

plasterwork detail

I encountered a couple of these: doors in the library with fake books on them so they allow an uninterrupted line of “books”.

view of gardens through a window

Harewood has three libraries, with this one being the largest. Most of the Georgian features were replaced in the Victorian era by Sir Charles Barry, although the Adam ceiling remains. As the abundance of libraries shows, even beyond the need to store books, they became much more social centers of the house in the 19th century.

plaster decoration above fireplace

chandelier and ceiling

plasterwork ceiling

plasterwork detail

yellow drawing room
Here you can see a fantastic original carpet. Just kidding. The craft exhibit strikes again.

lamp stands and commode

plaster ceiling

ceiling and above door detail

door detail
One thing that really strikes me in going through these photos is how differently they mixed colors in that era. They’re not combos you’d commonly see today.

decorative detail

decorative shutter


cinnamon drawing room


curtain holder

table and chair

plasterwork ceiling

plasterwork detail

fireplace detail

decoration above door

I was really disappointed they had put giant shelves up in the middle of the gallery so that it interrupted the view of the room. But it is still an amazing room!

demilune table

fireplace with caryatids


window with columns

gilt table

plasterwork ceiling

plasterwork detail

The dining room was probably the most substantially altered by Barry (in the 1840s) and has an almost neo-Jacobean ceiling plaster.

dining room table

intricate plasterwork

I love this sideboard and wine cellar!

drawing room

plaster ceiling with painted circles



ceiling painting

That carpet! How I wish there weren’t little ballet shoes all over it!

We’re heading below stairs, now, to the servants’ quarters…

cantlievered staircase


This was the servants’ hall.




kitchen table



This is the still room, which is not one you commonly get to see in these country houses.



china cabinets

This is the steward’s room, and the quality of the room features and furnishings indicates his status within the household, although he is still on the service level.

That’s all for the inside of the house: I hope you enjoyed this close look at some amazing Georgian-era craftsmanship. But of course there is an outside as well, and it’s really lovely.

house exterior

house exterior and shrubberies

If you have seen the Downton Abbey movie you may recall from the exterior shots that it’s incredibly well-situated, with a terrace behind the house and then the landscaped grounds beyond. Be warned, there’s some prominent statue nudity, although it’s not super defined.

back of house with steps leading to terrace

steps down to terrace

landscaped garden with shrubberies

back of house with landscaped garden

garden with shrubbery

Beyond the formal terrace garden is landscape done by Capability Brown and later additions were made by Humphrey Repton, so this house has truly seen the work of FOUR of the greatest artists of the Georgian era!

informal landscape


I really loved the mix of formal and informal. The formal terrace came later, in the Victorian era, but I can’t imagine the house without it.

That’s all for this month’s post, but I’ll be back with another Robert Adam house next month, so we’re not done with my architectural tours just yet!


18 Responses to Harewood

  1. Oh, delightful. Thank you for sharing this amazing trip that I doubt I will ever be able to take at my age. I feel like I’ve been on vacation. It’s raining here today and I was so enjoying that amazing terrace. You are right, what would the house be without it? I want that table with the umbrella. Such a scenery. I can’t imagine being able to look out and having a scene like that every day… and every season. Wow! I appreciate you taking the time to do these wonderful tours. Thank you and blessings.

  2. Wow! Your photos of Harewood House are incredible. There’s so much to see and study, and details to linger over. I wonder if there is any symbolism or meaning behind some of the medallion and fresco designs; they’re really beautiful. Thank you for sharing your photos.

    • Yes the detail in these houses is so incredible! A lot of the designs are based on neoclassical architectural symbols. I can’t remember all of them but the acanthus leaf is common. Thanks for your comment, Nancy, glad to hear you enjoyed the post!

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