South (garden) Face of Castle Howard
|Proprietor||Castle Howard Estate Ltd|
|Main feature||Grade I listed House|
|Other features||Landscaped gardens|
|Region||Yorkshire and the Humber|
|UK Grid square||SE7170|
|Address||Castle Howard, York, North Yorkshire|
Castle Howard is a stately home in North Yorkshire, England, 15 miles (24 km) north of York. One of the grandest private residences in Britain, most of it was built between 1699 and 1712 for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, to a design by Sir John Vanbrugh. Although Castle Howard was built near the site of the ruined Henderskelfe Castle, it is not a true castle, but this term is often used for English country houses constructed after the castle-building era (c.1500) and not intended for a military function.
Castle Howard has been the home of part of the Howard family for more than 300 years. It is familiar to television and film audiences as the fictional "Brideshead", both in Granada Television's 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and a two-hour 2008 remake for cinema. Today, it is part of the Treasure Houses of England heritage group.
The house is surrounded by a large estate which, at the time of the 7th Earl of Carlisle, covered over 13,000 acres (5,300 ha) and included the villages of Welburn, Bulmer, Slingsby, Terrington and Coneysthorpe. The estate was served by its own railway station, Castle Howard, from 1845 to the 1950s.
The 3rd Earl of Carlisle first spoke to William Talman, a leading architect, but commissioned Vanbrugh, a fellow member of the Kit-Cat Club, to design the building. Castle Howard was that gentleman-dilettante's first foray into architecture, but he was assisted by Nicholas Hawksmoor.
Vanbrugh's design evolved into a Baroque structure with two symmetrical wings projecting to either side of a north-south axis. The crowning central dome was added to the design at a late stage, after building had begun. Construction began at the east end, with the East Wing constructed from 1701–03, the east end of the Garden Front from 1701–06, the Central Block (including dome) from 1703–06, and the west end of the Garden Front from 1707–09. All are exuberantly decorated in Baroque style, with coronets, cherubs, urns and cyphers, with Roman Doric pilasters on the north front and Corinthian on the South. Many interiors were decorated by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini.
The Earl then turned his energies to the surrounding garden and grounds. Although the complete design is shown in the third volume of Colen Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus, published in 1725, the West Wing was not completed (indeed, not even started) when Vanbrugh died in 1726, despite his remonstration with the Earl. The house remained incomplete on the death of the 3rd Earl in 1738, but construction finally started at the direction of the 4th Earl. However, Vanbrugh's design was not completed: the West Wing was built in a contrasting Palladian style to a design by the 3rd Earl's son-in-law, Sir Thomas Robinson. The new wing remained incomplete, with no first floor or roof, at the death of the 4th Earl in 1758; although a roof had been added, the interior remained undecorated by the death of Robinson in 1777. Rooms were completed stage by stage over the following decades, but the whole was not complete until 1811.
A large part of the house was destroyed by a fire which broke out on 9 November 1940. The dome, the central hall, the dining room and the state rooms on the east side were entirely destroyed. Paintings depicting the Fall of Phaeton by Antonio Pellegrini were also damaged. In total, twenty pictures (including two Tintorettos and several valuable mirrors) were lost. The fire took the Malton and York Fire Brigades eight hours to bring under control.
Some of the devastated rooms have been restored over the following decades. In 1960–61 the dome was rebuilt and in the following couple of years, Pellegrini's Fall of Phaeton was recreated on the underside of the dome.
Some were superficially restored for the 2008 filming, and now house an exhibition. The East Wing remains a shell, although it has been restored externally. The house has been open to the public since 1952. Castle Howard is one of the largest country houses in England, with a total of 145 rooms. The current owner, the Hon Simon Howard, grew up at the castle.
According to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, nearly 220,000 people visited Castle Howard in 2010.
Castle Howard has extensive and diverse gardens. There is a large formal garden immediately behind the house. The house is prominently situated on a ridge and this was exploited to create an English landscape park, which opens out from the formal garden and merges with the park.
Two major garden buildings are set into this landscape: the Temple of the Four Winds at the end of the garden, and the Mausoleum in the park. There is also a lake on either side of the house. There is an arboretum called Ray Wood, and the walled garden contains decorative rose and flower gardens. Further buildings outside the preserved gardens include the ruined Pyramid currently undergoing restoration, an Obelisk and several follies and eyecatchers in the form of fortifications. A John Vanbrugh ornamental pillar known as the Quatre Faces (marked as 'Four Faces' on Ordnance Survey Maps) stands in nearby Pretty Wood.
There is also a separate 127 acre (514,000 m²) arboretum called Kew at Castle Howard, which is close to the house and garden, but has separate entrance arrangements. Planting began in 1975, with the intention of creating one of the most important collections of specimen trees in the United Kingdom. The landscape is more open than that of Ray Wood, and the planting remains immature. It is now a joint venture between Castle Howard and Kew Gardens and is managed by a charity called the Castle Howard Arboretum Trust, which was established in 1997. It was opened to the public for the first time in 1999. A new visitor centre opened in 2006.
The grounds of Castle Howard are also used as part of at least two charity running races during the year.
Castle Howard as film location
In addition to its most famous appearance in film as Brideshead in both the 1981 television serial and 2008 film adaptations of Evelyn Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited, Castle Howard has been used as a backdrop for a number of other cinematic and television settings.
In recent years, the Castle has featured in the 1995 film The Buccaneers and Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties, released in 2006. In the past, it was notable in Peter Ustinov's 1965 film Lady L and as the exterior set for Lady Lyndon's estate in Stanley Kubrick's 1975 film Barry Lyndon. It has even featured as the Kremlin, in Galton and Simpson's 1966 film The Spy with a Cold Nose.
- Hampton National Historic Site, an 18th-century US mansion said to have been inspired by Castle Howard.
- Castle Howard railway station
- A more detailed architectural appraisal of Castle Howard is at John Vanbrugh.
- List of Baroque residences
- 'The Pride of Yorkshire' exhibition leaflet, Castle Howard, 2010
- Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0508-1. OCLC 60251199.
- Hull Daily Mail, Monday 11 November 1940
- Visits Made in 2010 to Visitor Attractions in Membership with ALVA, ALVA – Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, retrieved 29 February 2012
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Castle Howard.|
- Castle Howard web site
- Historical Images of Castle Howard
- Castle Howard entry from The DiCamillo Companion to British & Irish Country Houses
- Kew at Castle Howard website
- TimesOnline article on Castle Howard's use of renewable energy systems
- Castle Howard's article on their use of renewable energy systems
- Installer's site on Castle Howard's renewable energy systems
- Details from listed building database (328983) - Grade I. Images of England. English Heritage.
- Heritage at Risk: Castle+Howard