Sunday, 7 October 2012

retrospective holiday diary day 7: Castle Howard

Wednesday 26 September: the last day of our holidays. We’d planned to go somewhere local: either Fountains Abbey or Castle Howard.  The forecast was for some rain, so we decided on Castle Howard: some of it is indoors.

Castle Howard from the rear
And the weather was just glorious: warm and sunny for the most part (even if the grounds were a little soggy underfoot). We enjoyed the wonderful walled garden, so big it’s possible to get lost in it.

(left) Amaranthus caudatus Red (love-lies-bleeding);
(middle) a trellis arch of runner beans in the decorative vegetable garden;
(right) rain glinting off decorative cabbage
There were follies as big as full houses that popped up everywhere. There were wonderful trees, and parkland, and lakes, and woodland walks.

trees along the parkland walk
views of the house from the park, and across the small lake
views along the parkland walk, and across the lake
I fell in love with the grounds. It probably helped that there were very few other people there that day: most of the time we were out of sight, and more importantly, hearing, of anyone else, so could enjoy the solitude and silence.

We had lunch in the Fitzroy Room, and rain started to threaten, so we next did the inside of the house. It’s impressive, but had nowhere near the same effect on me as the grounds did. The guides kept emphasising that it is a family home, still lived in. But I personally find that stately home style very “fussy” and not at all “homely” (unlike parts of Cragside, for example). However, it was interesting to see the history of the house's original design, its restoration after the devastating fire in 1940, and its use as a film set in two separate productions of Brideshead Revisited.

After the house, there wasn’t time to see the arboretum: a trip for another day.

Back to York, and then off to the cinema to see Brave.

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