Castle Howard at Christmas

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From the moment I walked into Castle Howard, I knew that I was in for something very special. Lozenges of light filtered down the Grand Staircase, from the 74-paned skylight overhead.  It was almost like walking on hallowed ground.  Yet I knew that the Howard family were a very real presence, in this home that brims with history.

On Monday I took you for a walk in the magnificent grounds, and I promised you a little more colour than my grey skies.  Do you recognise the Mausoleum in this painting?

IMG_4599The passages and hallways are full of exquisite works of art.  Rarely have I seen so much wealth and beauty accumulated under one roof.  Furniture and porcelain collections are lavishly distributed throughout the house, and there are guides on hand, more than happy to engage with you and share the tales that surround each piece.

Around all this is woven the magic of a classical Christmas.  I will take you through the house in the order that it was revealed, with great pride, to me.

With the most magnificent of peacocks!

With the most magnificent of peacocks!

The Howards have lived almost continuously in this house ever since it was built by Charles Howard, 3rd Earl of Carlisle, at the beginning of the 18th century.  The current residents are the Hon. Simon Howard and his wife Rebecca, with their twins.

You couldn’t accuse the house of being understated.  It’s very much a case of ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’, but with beautiful elegance.

How about this for a mirror?

How about this for a mirrored fireplace?

Or this beautifully mosaiced one?

Or this beautifully marbled one?

No expense was spared

Adornments are everywhere

Impressive it may be, but all this is but a prelude to the main feature.  The Great Hall is likely to provoke at least an intake of breath!  Astonishing to think that the lovely dome which crowns it crashed to the floor during the great fire of 1940.  The details of the ongoing restoration are contained in the ‘Brideshead Restored’ exhibition in High South.

The 70ft high restored dome

The 70ft high restored dome in the Great Hall

The High South stairs offer dramatic glimpses of the Great Hall through the arches.

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I am only halfway through my tour of this magnificent house and, as I don’t want eyes to glaze over, I propose to stop here.  I hope you’ll return with me.  There is still much opulence to be enjoyed, including the Chapel, with stained glass by William Morris.

If you’d like to see Castle Howard in all its Christmas finery, you have until 21st December.  Just time, isn’t there?  Full details are on the website.

98 comments

  1. This place looks beautiful. I’ve been to this part of the country a number of times but never here. It’s definitely on the list for when I’m back in England. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  2. Beautiful! Having just returned from visiting a centuries-old palace myself (part of which is still occupied by descendants of the royal family), I say a little opulence never hurt anyone 😉

  3. I’d rather tour grand houses with you than on my own. You encourage me to like what might otherwise be too much for a simple Australian, not used to grandeur. On this visit, I loved your very precise phrase “lozenges of light”: the ornaments on the bare branches; all that lovely space for twins to romp; the festooned statue and the stained glass windows; the skill with which you captured the dome; and the way you used the slideshow to highlight details. Thank you. Bring on William Morris!

    1. Not too badly 🙂 I’ve been out most of the day. Nordic walking on a freezing beach, ‘Christmas’ haircut and then some gift shopping. Thanks for all your appreciation 🙂

  4. Exquisite but it’s not just the decorations although they are so tastefully matched to the surroundings…it’s the surroundings that are breathtakingly decadent! Definitely from another era when you needed an army of underlings to clean and repair – interesting to recall but I would have been from the underling class so glad this is now relegated to tours. Thanks and look forward to the second part.

  5. Magnificent Jo is the word that comes to mind, but wait she says there is more… Looking forward to part 2.

    Do the Howards actually live in the place or do they have a small flat tucked around the back some where?

    1. It’s definitely not a pokey flat, Pauline 🙂 There’s a family photo of them in a very nice looking living room with another roaring fire on the website. Good luck to them!
      No rest for the wicked- part 2 is up today 🙂

      1. Good I’ll look later today. I really must do some other stuff before the day gets away from me, ie breakfast dishes, bed-making etc. The blogging world can become addictive in a very nice way… See you later…

  6. I cannot imaging living in a place like that – wow = and cool shots – I lie the cabinetry and the mirrored fireplace a lot – and in that fireplace one you can see the triple crown molding – pretty cool – and so much to see in each photo – thanks Jo….

    1. It is though, isn’t it? (the peacock) I searched the shop hoping there might be one for sale for Lisa but it was obviously a family heirloom 😦 Hugs darlin’. Did you get to put the tree up with Jeff?

      P.S Your bird is in part 2.

  7. What a grand place Jo . Loved the tour and history … trying to imagine living there … I think I prefer snug Lol but can’ t help loving a peep into another world 🙂 Super pictures .
    Gosh … they really ought to have a Christmas competition *count the baubles 😀

  8. Dear Jo,

    It’s hard to believe that was a private residence! Thank you for helping me get into a holiday mood. The photos are beautiful, the light is perfect! I am looking forward to the next installment!

  9. The decorations are fabulous and so elegant. I have not seen Christmas deco this beautiful. Thank you for the slides. And, it’s only halfway, wow! I’m going to wear my walking shoes on Monday. 🙂 Really enjoyed the tour, Jo!

  10. It’s gorgeous isn’t it? There’s also a public road or two that drives through the estate isn’t there, and you can glimpse a glimpse of the palace (it might as well be one) from there.

    Did you read all the goss about Simon and Rebecca being chucked out of the house and him being pushed out of the chair of the board of directors by his brother?

    1. Oooh, goss! Do tell 🙂 I noticed a Dr. Nicolas Howard was on the board and he had a very scowly face 😦 Trust you to know!
      Yes, I could see myself strolling through the grounds twirling a parasol and boating on the lake. (to be truthful, that’s more my daughter- I’d be in the wellies and umbrella 🙂 )

  11. Beautiful elegance is right, Jo. I love that peacock decoration! Now I’ll have to go visit your walk. My weeks are crazy from Mon-Wed. I hardly have any time to breathe. But now I can take some time. Looks like your holidays are very festive indeed. 🙂

  12. Brideshead!! Unfortunately always tainted by the memory of the York atm that ate my card and the ensuing 5 weeks of carrying too much cash while my card chased me through England, Scotland and Wales…

    Thanks for the more positive re-visit (and the grounds – I missed that one – even if it was wintry). 🙂

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