For a large chunk of my life I lived in York, though now reside in London. So why did I never visit Castle Howard, other than to drive through the grounds in the areas there are roads? As Historic Houses Association members we put this to rights and paid a visit during our recent stay up north.
Castle Howard situated in the Howardian Hills and is approximately 15 miles from York. The grounds are large and you are able to drive through sections. You often face gateways at the top of a hill where cars only see each other at the point of give way. It makes for a careful, cautious driving experience.
Castle Howard is part of the Historic Houses Association group, however has changed its rules recently, only allowing one visit on membership a year. They now have their own scheme which you can sign up to.
So what is there to see? There’s the Castle Howard building itself – not a castle, just a stately home built on the site of an old castle. It’s very grand with displays of china from around the world. You can find a room dedicated to the filming of Brideshead Revisited, both the TV series and the film. There is another room dedicated to what happened during the war at Castle Howard. It’s interesting stuff, and I loved how it brought that period of time to life in H’s eyes.
There is a section which had a fire last century which was used as a spooky room (which was pretty good!), with a small shop outside selling all kind of spooky things and sweets!
More recent filming done at Castle Howard includes the first series of ITV’s Victoria, where it doubled up for Kensington Palace when she was born. I might have to re-watch and see how much I recognise especially now they’re on DVD!
As it was nearing Halloween we took part in the Castle Howard trail. This took us up to the main woods – Ray Wood, and over to the Boathouse Cafe near the Children’s play area (suitable for all ages).
We caught a land train back to the house. The views are spectacular.
My favourite part of North Yorkshire is as you head towards the North York Moors. Castle Howard is near to Whitwell on the Hill on the A64. The road starts to become really hilly before you reach the most beautiful countryside you could imagine.
Being at Castle Howard gave me a sense of how grand it must have been to live there. Inside the volunteers had a lot of information for us about the house. It was somewhere I’m kicking myself for never having been before.
H spotted loads of Roman Gods on the various statues inside the house. The volunteers were more than happy to help her find more, telling her what to look out for.
Castle Howard is open all year. There are always activities on, and fabulous grounds to walk around. Their website is here.