HAREWOOD has closed completely just two days after opening its grounds and gardens for the new season.

The estate re-opened on Saturday - although the house itself remained closed - and its was hoped that social distancing would be possible across the 120 acres of open space.

But a message on the stately home’s website on Monday said: “Harewood is closed.”

Trust Director Jane Marriott said: “In light of rapid developments and communication around COVID-19 and the need to encourage everyone to embrace social distancing, Harewood has taken the difficult decision to fully close its site.

“We are so happy that some of you have been able to join us for our opening weekend of 2020. Whilst there is ample space for people to enjoy, it has become increasingly clear that we will find it hard to maintain the Government’s requirement of social distancing, and as the national messaging has moved to asking everyone to stay at home, this is the advice that we want all of our staff, volunteers and our wider community to uphold in order to ensure all our health and wellbeing.

“Harewood is a charity and your support over the next few months will be invaluable.

We are sorry for the disappointment to our valued Members and Visitors. Our Members will receive an automatic three-month extension to their Membership. This will be under constant review depending on how long we may need to stay closed. We ask that Members who are due to renew their Membership will continue to support us, if you are in a position to do so.

“All online ticket holders (booked from now until 1 June) will be contacted from Monday 23 March and you will be offered the opportunity to postpone your visit. If you cannot visit, we would greatly appreciate if you would consider donating the amount of your ticket. With Gift Aid on top, this represents an extra 25 per cent to the charity, at no extra cost to you. And of course if you would rather receive a refund, we completely understand.

“Please be assured that we will not rest whilst we are closed, and we will bring a slice of Harewood to you during this time. As an accredited museum, licensed zoo and award-winning garden, we have an abundance of stories to share across our beautiful collections and landscapes, and this we will be doing through an engaging online programme, on our website and social media.”

She added: “Please take care of yourselves, thank you for your understanding at this difficult time, and we look forward to welcoming you back to Harewood.”