The Howard story is one of ambition, public service, liberal politics and artistic endeavours.
Today, above all, it is about the challenge of preserving the family home as a national treasure for family and visitors alike to enjoy. Castle Howard's friendly and knowledgeable guides are on hand to share stories with you as you tour the house at your own pace, exploring a treasure trove of inspiring architecture and interiors, as well as world-renowned collections. Information boards highlight key stories and items in most rooms.
Children of all ages will enjoy exploring the house with Geoffrey the Lion’s illustrated trail and can discover the secrets of the House in the cabinet of curiosity.
The Howard family are descended from Lord William Howard the youngest son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. The 1st Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard was the great grandson of Lord William Howard, the youngest son of Thomas Howard. Created Earl of Carlisle in 1661 it was Charles' grandson, Charles Howard the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who is famed as the creator of Castle Howard.
Although building work began in 1699, the construction of Castle Howard took over 100 years to complete, spanning the lifetimes of three Earls. Built from east to west, the house took shape in just under ten years. By 1725, when an engraving of the house appeared in Vitruvius Britannicus (The British Architect), most of the exterior structure was complete and its interiors opulently finished. However, at the time of Vanbrugh’s death in 1726 the house was incomplete; it lacked a west wing as attention had turned to landscaping the gardens. It was still incomplete 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 brought back down to earth by the 4th Earl’s conservative Palladian wing. From the outside, the unbalanced appearance of the house provoked a mixed response, and many visitors noticed the disjointedness.
Whatever the weather, the Castle Howard landscape brings out the colour and drama of the season. With 1,000 acres to explore, Castle Howard is a haven of peace and tranquility with extensive woodland walks, temples, lakes and fountains. The monumental landscape offers breathtaking views at every turn, taking in the countryside of the Howardian Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As well as the dramatic landscape, Castle Howard is well known for its annual displays of daffodils, rhododendrons, bluebells and roses.
Spend a day relaxing in the informal parkland dotted with statues or admiring the formal gardens and meandering through woodland or along lakeside terraces.