Just fifteen miles from York, Castle Howard is one of England’s most extravagant stately homes. The opulent baroque style architecture, thousand acres of grounds, fountains, lakes and woodland make it one of the most visited tourist attractions in Yorkshire. With its vast open spaces, lakeside play area and plenty of places to eat, Castle Howard is a great family day out.
The History of Castle Howard
Acquired by the Howard family through marriage in the sixteenth century, the original site was home to the ruin of Henderskelfe Castle.
Construction of the main house began in the late 1600s and took over a century – and three generations of Howards – to complete. The remodelling of the grounds started in the early eighteenth century and the Temple of The Four Winds and Mausoleum were added.
In 1940 a devastating fire laid waste to a large part of the house – it took firemen eight hours to bring the blaze under control. Over the following decades restoration did take place, however the South East Wing still remains a shell today.
Like many other aristocratic houses, Castle Howard was opened to the public in the 1950s. Although still run by the Howard family it has since then become a very profitable commercial operation.
On The Big Screen
Most famously Castle Howard was used for television and cinema adaptations of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, however you may well have seen it in the background of many other period pieces. Whilst Stanley Kubrick used it as a location in his eighteenth century drama Barry Lyndon, Castle Howard has also – rather strangely – doubled as The Kremlin in 60s film The Spy With a Cold Nose.
The Grounds and Gardens
Located in the Howardian Hills, an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), Castle Howard’s grounds and gardens shift with seasons. The managed woodland, parkland, gardens and lakeside terraces are wonderful places to walk and relax. In peak season between April and October there are also free daily tours where you can learn more about this fascinating landscape.
If you fancy an experience not available to regular visitors, Castle Howard offer personalized curator-led walks and tours where you get access to parts of the house not normally open to the public. These talks obviously cost more, and you’ll need to book in advance (tel: 01653 648621).
The following tours run on selected dates:
- The Mausoleum
- The Pre-Raphaelites and Castle Howard
- The Hidden Lives of the Women of Castle Howard
- Castle Howard and Brideshead
- Gaslight and Riot: The Visit of Queen Victoria
- Duty Calls, Castle Howard in Time of War
- The Radical Countess
If you want the full VIP treatment you can book your own personalized day trip from York with a local chauffeur/tour guide. Find out more about what’s included here.
Visiting Castle Howard
Castle Howard is located some 15 miles north east of York on the way to Malton.
Many years ago Castle Howard used to have its own train station, however this line has long since disappeared. If you are reliant on public transport there is a bus service from York run by Stephensons of Easingwold. Tickets cost £10 return and you get a discount on your entry fee as well – which is nice. Alternatively you can catch a train to Malton and then get a taxi across from there.
Whilst plenty of coach tours visit, nowadays the majority of visitors arrive by car. You can find road directions to here.
The grounds are open every day except Christmas, however the main house itself will reopen in April 2017.
Planning ahead? You can book your Castle Howard tickets here.