Detail of a portrait of Ivy, Duchess of Portland

Our History

Learn about Ivy, Duchess of Portland, and discover how she started the Harley Foundation to ‘encourage creativity in all of us’.

On 11th September 1978, Ivy Duchess of Portland signed a trust deed establishing and endowing the Harley Foundation as an educational charity with the object of supporting the practice of the arts and crafts.

Her husband the 7th Duke of Portland had died on 21st March the previous year; from him Duchess Ivy had received a legacy of some personal property. She then considered how part of that inheritance might benefit other people. Aged 90, the Duchess knew her life hung by a thread, that there would be much to do, but little time…

King Charles III at the Harley Gallery in 2002


The Harley Foundation has since become a distinguished part of a distinctive British movement in support of the crafts which began as a reaction against the worst effects of industrialisation and destruction of the countryside. Such work continues to be as necessary today as during the later years of King George III’s reign when activists first began their campaigns for reform. Crafts may no longer be at the centre of our lives as they once were, but our instinctive drive to make things and our admiration for the hand-made remains with us.

Craft, Welbeck and Harley — a little history by Derek Adlam.

Derek Adlam came to Welbeck in 1982 and was the first maker to take up one of the newly built artists’ studio spaces. A gifted clavichord and harpsichord maker, he took on the role of Consultant to the Harley Foundation in 1986.

This is an excerpt from his own account of the development of the Harley Foundation arts charity and a wider reflection on the history and development of the arts and crafts at Welbeck and in the UK.

‘This is far too good not to do’.

William Parente – Trustee and Grandson of Ivy, Duchess of Portland