The Harley Foundation The Harley Foundation is based at the ducal estate of Welbeck. Ivy, Duchess of Portland, set up the Foundation as a Charitable Trust in 1977, "to encourage creativity in all of us" and to ensure the continuation of specialist hand-skills in an age of mass production. She envisaged the Foundation helping artists to work by offering them affordable studio space in tranquil surroundings. The Foundation was granted a long lease for a section of the old kitchen garden at Welbeck, the Tan Gallop and the old estate gasworks. From this Harley have built on the Duchess’ vision and there are now three sets of artist’s studios at Welbeck with space for up to 30 artists and makers, the Harley Gallery and a vibrant programme of events and activities.
The Foundation's Mission Through its activities the Foundation seeks to improve public access to the visual arts and crafts and to facilitate the working practices of artists and craftspeople. At the Harley Gallery it provides exhibitions space for the work of contemporary artists and makers, as well as a craft shop for the sale of one-off and small-batch production pieces from craftspeple. The Foundation supports the work of individual artists and craftspeople through special schemes of support and the provision of subsidised workspaces.
Welbeck History Welbeck Abbey was founded in 1153, and by the time of its dissolution in 1538 it was the mother house of its order in England.
Bought by Richard Whalley, an administrator in the court of Henry VIII, it was then aquired by Gilbert Talbot in 1584. Gilbert was the son and heir of George, Earl of Shrewsbury , Bess of Hardwick's fourth husband.
Bess's youngest son, Sir Charles Cavendish, bought the Welbeck Estate from his good friend and step-brother in 1607. Since then the estate has continued to be handed down through the family.
Family members include Margaret Cavendish, second wife of the 1st Duke of Newcastle, who published plays, poems and books on natural philosophy, William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland, who was twice prime minister, and Lord John Cavendish-Bentinck-Scott, 5th Duke of Portland, the famous ‘burrowing duke.’
The 5th Duke spent his time and wealth at Welbeck building a new Welbeck Village above a maze of underground tunnels. The Gas Works, built about 1860, was built to light his underground structures and is now home to The Harley Gallery. The large circular features in the garden mark the foundations of original gasometers.
The Gallery is named after Edward, Lord Harley, who married Lady Henrietta Cavendish-Holles, the greatest heiress of her day. Lady Henrietta descended directly from Sir Charles Cavendish, thrid son of Bess of Hardwick.
Lord Harley was one of the greatest bibliophiles and collectors of his age.
Derek Adlam Director