Monday, 27 May 2013

Castle Howard

Today we drove to Castle Howard Yorkshire's finest historic house & estate. Home to the Howard family for over 300 years, Castle Howard is a magnificent 18th-century residence set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape in the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The road to Castle Howard.
Arriving at Castle Howard

Side Entrance to Castle Howard
Castle Howard is filled with dramatic interiors and extraordinary treasures designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle 300 years ago, today it is home to the Hon. Simon and Mrs. Howard and their children Merlin and Octavia.

Although building work began c. 1699 the construction of Castle Howard took more than one hundred years before the House could be said to have been finally completed, and spanned the lifetimes of three Earls and numerous architects and craftsmen.

Built from east to west the mansion took shape in just under ten years. The East Wing was constructed in 1701-03; the eastern wing of the Garden Front in 1701-06; the Central Block, including the dome, in 1703-06; and the western wing of the Garden Front in 1707-09.

Carlisle's new home was surmounted with a dramatic masonry dome, the first of its kind to crown a private residence in the England. The facades were bristling with exuberant carved decoration, including coronets, ciphers and coats of arms, a frieze of sea horses and cherubs, and a carving of Diana, executed by the Huguenot carver, Nadauld.

Carlisle's building project had quickly became the talk of fashionable society and by 1725 when an engraving of the house appeared in the third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus most of the exterior structure was complete and its interiors opulently finished.

At the time of his death in 1726 the house was still incomplete, as it still was when the 3rd Earl died in 1738. Little could both men have guessed that when the house came to be completed by Carlisle's son-in-law, Sir Thomas Robinson, Vanbrugh's flamboyant baroque design would be anchored to a sober Palladian wing. Inspired, in part, by William Kent's designs for the Houses of Parliament, Robinson designed a low rustic storey and a piano nobile with a central octagonal dome and pavilions at each end surmounted with a pyramidal roof.

The building of Castle Howard was finally completed with the decoration of the Long Gallery by Tatham, but further alterations were to be made to the house when the pavilion rooms at either end of the West Wing were removed during the refurbishment of the Chapel in 1870-75, as part of a plan to bring both wings into greater harmony.

Tragically further change was to occur in the middle of the 20th century when, on the morning of 9 November 1940, fire broke out in the South-East Wing and swept through the house into the Great Hall, destroying the dome and nearly twenty rooms. For the next few years much of Castle Howard was open to the skies, its once splendid rooms gutted shells. George Howard, who inherited Castle Howard after the death of his two brothers in action during the war, determined that the House should be lived in once more, and made the bold decision to recover Vanbrugh's damaged architectural masterpiece.

In 1960-62 the dome was rebuilt and redecorated, and in 1981, in conjunction with Granada Television and the filming of Brideshead Revisited, the Garden Hall was rebuilt. As time and money permit, the gradual task of restoring the fire-damaged sections continues. In the early 1980s a New Library was built; in 1994-95 the Central Block was re-roofed. All over the Estate restoration work and essential maintenance are carried out, ranging from large projects dealing with masonry, lead roofing, the gardens, and the lakes and waterways, to smaller but no less important objects such as lead statues, paintings, books and textiles, all of which testify to the family's dedication to Castle Howard.

Lady Georgiana's Bedroom

Lady Georgiana's Dressing Room

Castle Howard Bedroom

Fortuna sculptured 2nd Cent. AD

Antique Passage

Great Hall

Great Hall

Goddess Hygeia

Goddess Ceres 2-3rd Cent AD

Painting representing Earth

Painting representing Air

New Library

Music Room

Crimson Dining Room

Turquoise Dining Room

Long Gallery South


Atlas Fountain
The Atlas Fountain is the most recognisable piece of sculpture at Castle Howard. The Fountain sits at the center of the South Parterre and can be seen from much of the House including spectacular views of it from the Great Hall. The Atlas Fountain played a major part in both productions of Brideshead Revisited as it is where Sebastian and Charles go skinny-dipping. In the Fountain, the legendary figure of Atlas is seen standing at the edge of the earth, supporting the heavens above on his shoulders and is flanked by sea gods. The Fountain was commissioned by the 7th Earl of Carlisle in 1850 from the landscape gardener William Andrews Nesfield and the surrounding sea gods were carved by the sculptor John Thomas and transported from London to Castle Howard by railway. 

South Lake
The lakes in Castle Howard’s Grounds are artificial. The South Lake was created in the 1720s and includes a cascade and waterfall, from where water flows into the New River which was originally a natural stream.
The Mausoleum
Work began in 1729 and it took just over 12 years to build. Hawksmoor's initial design for a cylindrical structure sitting on a square plinth was modified with alterations that included the steps on the eastern side and the surrounding bastion wall, built by Daniel Garrett in the 1740s. Beneath the chapel is the crypt, which contains 63 loculi, or niches, for receiving coffins. The Mausoleum is still the burial place of the Howard family today.

Temple of the Four Winds
Known originally as the Temple of Diana, the Temple of the Four Winds, a cube with dome and porticos, is modelled in part on Andrea Palladio's famous 16th century Villa Rotonda in Vicenza. By the time of Vanbrugh's death in 1726, the Temple was unfinished and another ten years passed before the interiors were finally decorated with scagliola in 1738 by the stuccoist Francesco Vassalli.

Beneath the temple is a cellar where servants would have stored and prepared food before serving it to polite company above. Used as a place for refreshment and reading, it commands impressive views. In 2001 the Hon Simon Howard married Rebecca Sieff in the Temple of the Four Winds.

Site of the Temple of Venus 
The base of the Temple of Venus reveals a low octagonal plinth and surrounding walkway. The original statue of Venus has survived and is on display in the Venus Rose Garden.

The Great Lake built by the 5th Earl in the 1790's.

The Estate Offices

The Grand Entrance of  Castle Howard

Venus de Medici from the Temple of Venus
Venus, the Roman Goddess of love. So called after the famous marble version originally at the Villa Medici, Rome, and now in the Uffici Gallery Florence. Sculptured in 1708-1711.

Home for the night at the Cresswell Arms Malton

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