One of mom’s favorite things to do on our trips is to visit manors, historic houses, and estates. While planning a recent trip to England, I stumbled across Castle Howard on Twitter. Before I could even get a full sentence out, mom was on board. “Don’t you want to hear more?” I asked. “No, lets go!” she eagerly insisted.
Castle Howard is a magnificent 18th century historic house set on 1,000 acres of landscape. It’s also known for Brideshead Revisited having been filmed there. Lucky for us, Castle Howard is in North Yorkshire, not far from our friends who we were visiting. They were happy to take us. Mom gets treated royally; that’s one of the perks of being 89.
We began with a lovely drive through North Yorkshire. Mom happily chatted with our friends while enjoying the luscious greenery. We arrived at Castle Howard to a light drizzle and decided to begin with our day with lunch. For me, that’s the perfect way to start. We dined in the Courtyard Café, which features a seasonal menu using local produce.
After lunch, we toured the house. Construction began in 1699 and it took over 100 years to be fully completed. The stunning baroque design makes for a memorable entrance. The predominant feature, Castle Howard’s defining element, is the dome. Atop the dome is a cupola, which is being re-gilded with gold leaf. (In the photos, scaffolding is still covering the cupola.) Though there was one modern convenience that made mom quite happy—a chairlift that runs along the Grand Staircase. Mom was thrilled to save her knees from the discomfort of the stairs. I admired the family portraits and antique sculptures that adorned the walls, while mom rode up.
The Venetian painter Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini decorated much of the interior of Castle Howard, including the dramatic painting, Fall of Phaeton, on the underside of the dome. Sadly, in 1940, a fire destroyed a portion of the house and caused the dome to collapse. The dome has since been restored and decorated with a new version of Fall of Phaeton (painted by Scott Medd).
We enjoyed ambling through the gorgeous rooms, including the Turquoise Drawing Room and the Music Room. I was quite taken with the beautiful antique piano. Every room is in exquisite condition.
After walking through the house, we took a quick look at the luscious grounds. They are extensive, including multiple gardens, lakes, and parkland. And what estate wouldn’t be complete without a gorgeous peacock strutting across the grounds!
One of the highlights is the Atlas Fountain. It features a bronze globe supported on the shoulders of a kneeling Atlas, who is surrounded by four sea gods. It was commissioned in 1850.
Mom began to tire, so we decided to leave, but not without first taking a quick peek through the wrought iron at the Walled Garden. Perhaps a future visit will lead to a longer wander.
It was a wonderful day doing one of mom’s favorite activities. I’m grateful to our friends for taking us and giving mom such a treat. For those visiting North Yorkshire, I recommend a visit to Castle Howard.