Leeds is a city which is rich in history and packed full of interesting places to visit. One of the most versatile of these is provided in the gorgeous house and fabulous gardens of Harewood House. If you are looking for somewhere to take the family during the school holidays then a visit to Harewood estate is highly recommended for a great day out.
Harewood House tour
Harewood House is a stately home only 15 minutes drive from Leeds. It was built in the mid-18th Century and boasts Robert Adam interiors, Chippendale furniture and gardens designed by Capability Brown. Don’t be fooled, however, into thinking that you can only enjoy Harewood if you are a history lover: there is more than enough going on there to provide a great experience for anyone who cares to visit.
Harewood house bird garden
There are, for example, over 100 acres of gardens in which you can picnic, play and feel generally as if you belong in a 1920s world where afternoon tea and boating after lunch were par for the course. Best of all (in my humble opinion) is the bird garden, which includes such exotic delights as parrots, flamingos and even penguins.
Over one third of the 90+ species of bird living at Harewood are threatened or endangered, so as a nice little philanthropic aside you can adopt a bird whilst visiting and help with their vital conservation. You can also get involved with feeding the penguins at certain times throughout the year.
Playground area for children
For children, Harewood is home to one of the best adventure playgrounds in Yorkshire. It includes a 20m zip wire, aerial walkways and climbing nets: kids of all ages will find something here to enjoy. The playground in its entirety, including a picnic area, covers more then 3 acres of ground.
There are numerous trails and walks through the grounds, all of them offering stunning examples of horticultural architecture. The Terrace gardens provide fantastic views over the countryside and also contain the Terrace Tearooms, with both indoor and outdoor seating so you can enjoy a cuppa whatever the weather.
Lakeside walks and picnics
There is also a beautiful lakeside walk, with glades that are especially rewarding in springtime, and woods that I would recommend visiting in the autumn, when the sumptuous reds and gold’s of the leaves are reflected in the lake. Situated within the grounds to the north of the house you can find All Saints Church. This beautiful building dates back to the 15th Century and is home to one of the largest collection of alabaster tombs in any English churchyard outside a cathedral. For more ideas for walks in the country in and around Leeds, be sure to check out our things to do in Leeds guide where you will find all sorts of suggestions and information.
One of the great things about Harewood is the amount that has been done to bring the place to life for a modern audience as well as keeping its historic integrity very much intact: ‘Art at Harewood’ is a programme of temporary exhibitions which take place throughout the house and grounds each season, making it possible to find something new despite numerous visits.
Impressive Harewood House
Moving into the house itself, you can see the beautifully decorated rooms complete with Chippendale furniture and a tea service that once belonged to Marie-Antoinette. You can’t fail to be impressed by its, well, impressiveness, but if you are anything like me the knowledge that the house was commissioned by Edwin Lascelles with money made from the sugar (and therefore slave) trade may dim its grandeur somewhat.
Harewood House events
As if all of the above wasn’t enough, you will also find events at Harewood throughout the year such as vintage car rallies, red kite walks, family story telling and open air concerts: check out their website to see what’s coming up. I have been to Harewood House many times since moving to Leeds, and each visit has provided a different experience that I remember with pleasure. I thoroughly recommend that you go and check Harewood House out for yourself.
If you would like additional ideas for things to do in Leeds, why not take a look at more of the attractions and events in our other Leeds guides.