Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited’s Yorkshire Gem

Set in the rolling countryside of North Yorkshire, magnificent Castle Howard’s roots date back to the 18th century. Here’s our guide:

From its grandiose architecture to the carefully curated gardens, the house remains home to the Howard family, who open their doors to the public to preserve this national treasure for future generations.

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited's Yorkshire Gem 1

A Stately Origin

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited's Yorkshire Gem 2
Sir John Vanbrugh

The story of Castle Howard begins in 1699 when Charles Howard, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, commissioned his friend, Sir John Vanbrugh to design a residence that would reflect the family’s wealth and status.

Vanbrugh was a well-known Buckingham Palace dramatist who had never designed a house before and he had no formal
architectural training.

But his baroque sensibilities and his palatial ambition were enabled by his close relationship with the talented and established architect, Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Hawksmoor was a close associate and protege of Sir Christopher Wren and he partnered with Vanbrugh on some of the most spectacular buildings of the era.

Hawksmoor brought technical knowhow and a classical vision to Vanbrugh’s exuberant baroque imagination, and together they created buildings including the epic Blenheim Palace.


Construction Begins

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited's Yorkshire Gem 3

Construction began at Castle Howard in 1701, but due to a series of challenges – including financial constraints and the death of both the architect and the Earl – it took many decades to complete.

The result, however, was astonishing.

Castle Howard’s facade blends Palladian and baroque styles, with a central dome crowning the structure. With 145 rooms and vast landscaped surrounds, Castle Howard remains one of England’s most iconic landmarks.

It is recognisable from countless film and TV appearances – especially the 1980s TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.


A Place In History

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited's Yorkshire Gem 4
Charles Howard

The aristocratic Howard family has occupied the castle since it was first built. The Howards go back a long way – you may have heard of them from Henry VIII’s time when Catherine Howard was briefly married to the King.

The estate has played host to various dignitaries and royalty, and its interiors showcase a vast array of art and furnishings, including artworks by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.

During World War II, Castle Howard opened its doors to serve as a convalescent home for wounded soldiers. The stately rooms that once echoed with the laughter of
nobility became a place of healing and respite during a tumultuous time.


Gardens And Grounds

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited's Yorkshire Gem 5

The house’s opulence extends beyond its walls into the meticulously landscaped gardens and grounds. Designed by Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor, the gardens at Castle
Howard are gorgeous with ornate fountains, serene lakes, a grand mausoleum and a temple dedicated to the Four Winds.

The Walled Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Atlas Fountain are just a few of
the features that make Castle Howard’s grounds such a Mecca for landscape
lovers. The gardens offer a tranquil backdrop for leisurely strolls and are a huge
draw for visitors from around the world.


Christmas At Castle Howard

Castle Howard | Brideshead Revisited's Yorkshire Gem 6

As the festive season descends, the historic estate transforms into a winter
wonderland, offering visitors a unique blend of tradition and enchantment.
The Christmas festivities have become a popular annual tradition, attracting
locals and tourists alike.

The grand house takes on a magical quality during the Christmas season.
The halls are decked with festive decorations, and each room is adorned with
elaborate Christmas trees, flickering candles, and seasonal greenery.

The castle’s baroque architecture is enhanced by an enchanting light display, and
one of the highlights is the Christmas Masquerade. This event invites visitors
to step back in time and experience the elegance of a bygone era.


Preservation And Legacy

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The Howard family’s commitment to maintaining the estate’s historical
integrity ensures that future generations can continue to appreciate its
architectural splendour and its place in British cultural life.

Like many of Britain’s grand country houses, the house is open to the public,
attracting more than a quarter of a million visitors a year to explore its
rich history, wander through its lush gardens, and partake in the festivities
that accompany the changing seasons.

The estate has diversified over the years to offer a huge range of cultural, historic, artistic and culinary events – all while remaining a family home whose current custodians, the Hon. Nick Howard and his wife, Victoria, continue to manage the estate to secure it for future
generations.

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