Located just 15 miles North of York and within the glorious North York Moors National Park, Castle Howard is one of England’s finest historic houses and the perfect place to spend a day out with all the family.
Set in over a 1000 acres of gorgeous parkland Castle Howard is home to some of the finest historical collections, all of which have been put together by succeeding generations of the Howard family. The grounds themselves are dotted with lakes, fountains, temples, statues and the magnificent Yorkshire Arboretum.
Castle Howard History
The building of Castle Howard started in 1699 under the instruction of Charles Howard, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle. It would not, however, be finished for another hundred years under the 4th Earl, Henry Howard, and not exactly to plan. Original designs for the Baroque west wing were put aside, and it was transformed into a contrasting Palladian style instead. Despite the changes, Castle Howard was and is a truly stunning example of Baroque exuberance with cherubs, coronets, urns, and cyphers displayed in abundance. The central dome has to be seen to be believed!
Tragically on the 9th September 1940, a chimney fire was fanned by strong winds and the dome, central hall, Eastside staterooms, and the dining room were completely destroyed. By the time York and Malton fire brigade had the fire under control, 8 hours later, 20 pictures, several valuable mirrors, and Antonio Pellegrini’s ceiling decoration on the dome had all been lost!
Over the following decades, some of the devastating damage to Castle Howard has been repaired. In 1960-61 the central dome was rebuilt and a copy of Antonio Pellegrini’s ceiling painting recreated. Unfortunately, however, the South-East wing remains a shell, though it has been restored externally.
Castle Howard still remains in the Howard family with over 8 generations making it their home.
Things To Do At Castle Howard
The house itself is a magnificent place to explore with over 145 rooms, (not all open to the public) including the stunning chapel. This is part of the mid 18th-century West wing of the house and decorated in Pre-Raphaelite designs by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. The chapel is still used for services today.
Castle Howard is also home to many collections and archives including pictures, tapestries, sculptures, Howard family papers, bills, and notebooks that all document the life and times of Castle Howard and its inhabitants over the centuries. They are a fabulous peep into history and national treasures that everyone should enjoy.
Outside of the house, Castle Howard has some marvelous gardens for you and the family to enjoy. There is a walled garden, woodland garden, lakes, fountains, temples, monuments, adventure playground, and even a mausoleum. Standing 90 feet high and with 20 decorative pillars, the mausoleum is still used as the burial place for Howard family members and not accessible to the public. It is, however, still entirely worth seeing.
Another must see whilst in the gardens of Castle Howard is the Yorkshire Arboretum which is run in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. This is a 120 acre garden with trees from around the world, many of which are rare, alongside native plants and wildlife. The spectacular display of flora comes from Chile, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Special Events, Talks, And Tours At Castle Howard
Castle Howard runs a year-round changing program of special events such as musical performances, Santa visits, behind the scenes glimpses, and contemporary/historical exhibitions. An example of what you can expect is the ‘Duty Calls’ exhibit which tells the stories of Castle Howard during war from the battle of Waterloo to World War 2.
You can also pre-book talks and tours at Castle Howard including early morning private tours of the house and talks on subjects such as the hidden lives of women in the castle and the visit of Queen Victoria. For a little light-hearted history try the ‘Grand Tours and Farcical Journeys’ which covers tales of the Howards travels and the objects they have brought back with them.
Shopping, Eating And Staying Over
For when you’re peckish or ravenous Castle Howard has some fine eateries. There are several cafes around the grounds and the fabulous Fitzroy restaurant. All of these serve fresh, local, and seasonal produce every day.
Shopping wise, whether you want a souvenir of your day or something a little bit different but ‘Yorkshire’ Castle Howard has two gift shops for you to browse in. They also have a fabulous garden centre and tree nursery.
If one day exploring Castle Howard is not enough, or you want to further explore the area you can stay at the houses caravan and camping park or in one of the holiday cottages they have which are situated just a stone's throw away from the house.
Opening Times And Tickets
There are two options for tickets when visiting Castle Howard; a house and garden ticket and a just garden ticket. Both are available on the day at the house itself with special prices for family entry. Group visits are welcome with reduced price entry for 12 people or more. You can also get a reduced price entry by taking out friends of Castle Howard membership which is available in silver or gold options.
Opening times are as follows:
House – daily 10.30 am – 5 pm (last entry 4pm)
Gardens – daily 10 am – 6 pm (last entry 5 pm)
Shops/cafes – 9.30/10 am – 5/5.30 pm
Note: Please check the website for early closures or special event closures.
>How To Get There
Castle Howard, York, YO60 7DA
Website – https://www.castlehoward.co.uk/
Directions to get there:
From the North – Take the A1 onto the A61 towards Thirsk. Join the A171 heading for Helmsley turning off just before reaching the destination onto the B1237. From here follow the brown tourist information signs to Castle Howard.
From the South – Take the A1M to junction 44 and follow the A64 Eastbound towards York. Continue on the A64 past York towards Scarborough and you will shortly pick up the brown tourist signs for Castle Howard.