Castle Howard is an impressive stately home in North Yorkshire. Built in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Castle Howard should be top of your list of things to do when you visit Yorkshire. This magnificent 18th-century house and gardens are a popular visitor attraction and many describe it as the UK Palace of Versailles.
There is a huge amount to see and do, from carefully curated exhibitions in the main house to exhibitions, displays, sporting events, and lavish gardens. There are a thousand acres of parkland to explore, as well as the main house, so you won’t be bored if you visit Castle Howard.
The Main House
The main house was built 300 years ago but was nearly destroyed by a major fire in 1940. It was 20 years before restoration work began but the fire-damaged sections of the house since have been lovingly restored by an expert conservation team. The house is a fabulous example of baroque flamboyance. It was designed by John Vanbrugh, but more than 100 years passed before the house was completed. Interestingly, the final wing, the Palladian wing, is notably different to the rest of house, as it was completed several years after Vanbrugh’s death.
The chapel was built in the 18th century and is part of the west wing. It was later renovated in the popular Pre-Raphaelite style of the time. Decorative designs by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones were added, which can be seen in all their glory today.
The gardens at Castle Howard are amazing. No matter which way you turn, there are fantastic views of lakes, baroque temples, fountains, and woodland walks. A team of gardeners works full-time to keep the parkland and gardens in top condition. No matter what time of year you elect to visit Castle Howard, you will be greeted by a dazzling display of colourful flowers and seasonal foliage.
The Walled Garden was once the kitchen garden of the main house. Today, it is largely given over to flowers, including the fabulous Rose Gardens, but there is still a section for vegetables, which are used in the Castle Howard kitchens.
The Castle Howard fountains and lakes are an iconic feature of the 18th-century design. The Atlas Fountain looms large and appears on almost all of the Castle Howard marketing materials. It is so large and impressive that you can see it from most windows of the house. The Great Lake is equally as impressive and in the summer, there are boat rides.
Other notable landmarks within the garden include the Mausoleum and the Temple of the Four Winds. Make time for a scenic stroll through the Woodland Garden in Ray Wood – it is particularly attractive in late spring/early summer.
The landscaped gardens, children’s playground, and shops are open all year round, apart from Christmas Day. The house is open all year apart from a two-week period in November.
Castle Howard is reached by a bus service from central York or via car from the A64 between Leeds and the North Yorkshire coast.