Situated 25km (15 mi.) northeast of York, Castle Howard is one of the most stunning stately homes in England, ranking along Blenheim Palace and Waddesdon Manor.
The palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) for Charles Howard (1669-1738), 3rd Earl of Carlisle, and constructed between 1699 and 1712.
Although this was Vanbrugh's first work, it surpasses many of his later works, except maybe Blenheim Palace. It was the first private residence in England to be surmounted by a dome. The grand landscaped gardens were laid in the 1750's by a team of 30 gardeners.
Upon its completion, the house still lacked a West Wing, which construction started only after Vanbrugh's death. Instead of being built in the same Baroque style as the rest of the house, the West Wing was designed in the Palladian style of the latter-half of the 18th century, and wasn't completed and fully decorated until the early 19th century. This asymetrical appearance has sometimes been criticised, although later alterations have attempted to reconcile the two styles.
In 1940, the interior of the house was badly damaged by a fire which swept from the South-East Wing to the Great Hall, destroying the dome and nearly twenty rooms. George Howard repaired the damages and rebuilt the dome in 1961-62.
In 1981, Castle Howard was chosen as scene of the TV drama Brideshead Revisited, produced by Granada Television.
Castle Howard has been opened to the public since 1952, and now attracts some 200,000 visitors annually. It is still the residence of the Howard family.
Opening Hours & Admission
Castle Howard is open daily from 11am to 4pm between 1 March and 6 November. Admission to the house, grounds and adventure playground is £9.50 for adults, £8.50 for senior citizens and students, and £6.50 for children aged 4 to 16 (free under 4 years old). Access to the grounds and playground only is £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children.
How to get there
Castle Howard is 6km off the A64 road between York and Scarborough.
Yorkshire Coastliner bus No 840 runs between Leeds and Whitby, via York, Castle Howard and Pickering. There are also numerous tours from York.