Castle Howard


Continuing toward Scotland, we pass through Yorkshire, where we stop to visit Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. Castle Howard is privately owned by the same family that had the place built three hundred years ago, but its grounds and gardens, as well as part of the building itself, are open to the public. It was one of the nicest castles we saw during our trip.

At the time of our visit, three hundred years had passed since the beginning of construction on Castle Howard, though it took almost a century for the entire building process to be completed. The house was planned by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who hired a playwright, John Vanbrugh, to design the structure, and building started in 1699.

Over the next ten years, a lot of work was completed on the house, but it still wasn’t entirely finished when the 3rd Earl died in 1738. This was partly because a great deal of effort went into planning, designing, and planting the gardens on the estate, so work on the house itself suffered. That was a source of conflict between the Earl, who wanted the grounds to be finished, and Vanbrugh, who wanted the time and money devoted to the house. Neither of them lived to see the completed building, which wasn’t entirely finished inside and out until 1811.

One of the more recognized features of Castle Howard is the dome, which was finished in 1706. It’s 70 feet high, and covers the castle’s Great Hall. Inside, the dome has a painting of the Greek myth of Phaeton, and there are also paintings of figures that represent earth, air, fire, and water.

In 1940, a fire destroyed the dome and 20 of the castle’s rooms. It took over two decades for the dome’s roof to be fully repaired. During the repair and restoration work, in 1952, the castle was open to the public.

The grounds of Castle Howard cover 1000 acres, and include gardens, woodlands, lakes, and even temples. Inside, there are exhibits about the castle and its history. One depicts some of the military history connected with the castle and the Howard family. Five members of the Howard family were killed in action in various wars over the years, beginning with Waterloo in the early 1800s and going through World War II in the 1940s. Another interesting fact about Castle Howard is that the TV series Brideshead Revisited was filmed here, and the rooms that were used as the set are open for the public to see as another of the exhibits inside the building.

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