Sophie Lascelles has given up her day job as a physiotherapist to run retreats at Harewood. Catherine Scott meets her.
When her husband suggested they give up their life in London to set up food and drink project in Yorkshire, Sophie Lascelles didn’t think twice.
“My husband has such passion for the project that it is infectious,” says Sophie of her husband, Eddy Lascelles who set up the Harewood Food and Drink Project with his brother Ben two years ago.
“We had been travelling and really wondering what we wanted to do with our lives. When Eddy suggested returning to the family home of Harewood I was more than happy to support him.”
And support him she has. At first Sophie, a muscular skeletal physiotherapist continued her own career in Bradford.
At the same time she was helping Eddy, who she has been with since she was 21, establish the unique Harewood Food and Drink Project.
Eddy was born and brought up in Bath and worked for awhile in London in recruitment, but the estate is in his blood. His father is the current Lord Harewood and they would spend holidays visiting the estate when he was little.
The original intention hadn’t necessarily been to base the business in and around Harewood, but when the couple rented a cottage on the estate after selling their London flat, the idea started to evolve.
Sophie seems to have inherited her husband’s passion for Harewood and Yorkshire, although she hails from Bournemouth.
“We used to come up to Yorkshire and would visit Harewood,” says Sophie.
“It is a very special place and it was clear why my husband was so passionate about it,
“I was helping in the office, I’d go out foraging mulberries for the Harewood Graystone Gin, you name it I did it.”
But as the project, which champions Harewood Estate produce and collaborates with local producers as well as holding pop-up ‘secret’ dining events across the state, took off, Sophie was spending more time on it.
As Eddy and Ben’s plans for the estate flourished, Sophie decided to give up her day job to concentrate on developing her role on the estate.
Last year they renovated seven cottages on the estate which are now holiday cottages, giving visitors the chance to stay on a 4,000-acre Yorkshire country estate.
Three more properties will join the portfolio later this year.
The development of the holiday cottages, some with views over Harewood House and its historic lake, gave yoga-loving Sophie an idea.
“There is so much more emphasis on wellbeing these days. I love yoga and I started to think with the opening of the cottages why not offer holistic retreats, and later this year we plan to launch Treatment Rooms@Harewood, whereby people can have treatments in their cottages and even attend classes. You won’t need to be a resident to attend them.”
The first yoga and meditation retreat is from April 5 to 7.
This event will be exploring yoga and meditation with free time to walk around Harewood House and Bird Gardens or enjoy a relaxing treatment, delivered by expert therapists in the comfort of a wood fire-lit room.
There will be outdoor activities including mindfulness walks within the private grounds of the estate.
The food is provided by Harewood Food and Drink Project whose resident chef, Josh Whitehead, has created a bespoke, healthy, low-fat, yet indulgent menu using the best from Harewood’s seasonal larder.
Day tickets: Starting from £80 and weekend tickets starting from £375 (two people sharing) or £600 for single guest for whole weekend, depending on rooms available.
The yoga sessions are taken by yoga instructor Fiona Edwards and the meditation is led by Amanda Joy from Harrogate.
“I was a reflexology client of Amanda’s and we got talking,” says Sophie.
“We seemed to have a lot of things in common and when I explained my idea she was really excited by it and keen to get on board.
“Like the Harewood Food and Drink project, the retreat and treatment rooms will be inspired by the seasons,” explains Sophie.
Treatment will include things such as Indian head massage, reflexology and aroma facials.
All the essential oils are being created for the retreat and treatment rooms by Boston Spa Chapter Organics, which are also provided to visitors to the holiday cottages.
“Like Harewood Food and Drink Project we really want to collaborate with other local producers and businesses,” says Sophie.
“I am very excited and nervous. There’s such a lot of potential.”
The cottages are already receiving bookings, including for wedding parties.
“We can offer treatments to the bride and her party and they can then can get married on the estate and stay at the cottages.”
The estate is also working closely with the Harewood House Trust, which runs the country house, which could see more collaboration on events.
“We do feel a huge sense of responsibility,” says Sophie, who lives in a house on the edge of the estate with her husband Eddy.
“Harewood is a very important place and loved by so many people. You need to make sure that whatever you do on the estate you do it right and in keeping with everything else is going on here.”
For more information on Harewood Holiday Cottages and next month’s restreat visit
harewoodholidays.com or call 0113 532 3190 or email email@example.com