Despite visiting nearly a year ago, I realized I haven’t written about Castle Howard, one of North Yorkshire’s top attractions, here on the blog! This stately home is located in the beautiful Howardian Hills, and seeing it all decorated for Christmas last year was such a dream.
Building began on the house in 1700 for Charles Howard, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle. The house over 100 years to complete, and was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh. In November 1940, a large part of the house was destroyed by a fire, but several of the destroyed rooms have been restored to their original grandeur.
With 145 rooms, it is one of the largest country houses in England!
Castle Howard is still inhabited today by the family, the Carlisle branch of the Howard family. They occupy the east wing, which isn’t open to the public for this reason.
There is a lot to see at Castle Howard, but obviously the stunner is the house itself. The west wing has so many beautiful rooms, but the best part of all of this is seeing them decorated for Christmas! There are so many different Christmas decorations.
The Great Hall was one of my favorite rooms in the house. It’s 70 feet tall, and there was a huge Christmas tree (22 feet tall) decorated with ornaments!
I especially loved the gingerbread house model of Castle Howard. It took 2 weeks to bake! There was even a train that ran around the tracks! It was one of my favorite parts of visiting the house for Christmas.
I also loved the Long Gallery room, which had an upside down Christmas tree. There was a string quartet playing Christmas carols when I visited! I also thought the decorations on top of the bookcases were a nice touch.
Don’t miss the Chapel on your way out! This beautiful room was originally intended to be a dining room.
After exploring the house, I set off to explore the castle grounds and gardens. There are nearly 1000 acres of gardens at Castle Howard! The landscape is magnificent—Castle Howard is in the Howardian Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
One of the most famous monuments is the Atlas Fountain, which was commissioned by the 7th Earl in 1850. I also think the view from past the fountain is one of the best of the house itself.
The mausoleum was originally commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle as his burial place, but at the time of his death it was still unfinished. The Earl was actually buried in the parish church, and then re-interred in the mausoleum 6 years later. It is still used by the family today and is not open to the public. You can see it in the distance from the South Lake.
The Temple of the Four Winds was built in the 1730s, and is one of the best features of the gardens. It was built in the 1730s, and originally used as a place of refreshment and reading.
There are so many gardens and paths around the grounds to explore. In the summer, you can take a boat ride across the Great Lake on the north side of the house.
After seeing the house all decorated for Christmas, I am definitely hoping to return in the summer to see the gardens!
Castle Howard also runs a Christmas market in the courtyard, a festive afternoon tea, and audiences with Santa for kids! Find out more Christmas information from their website here.
Castle Howard is 15 miles from York, making it an easy daytrip. Stephenson’s #181 bus runs daily to Castle Howard from York. It costs £10 for a return ticket, and takes about one hour, with convenient times for daytripping. There’s a bus at 9:00am (or 10:50am) leaving York, and buses from Castle Howard back to York at 2:15pm, 3:30pm, and 4:45pm. For more information on bus schedules, check out the website here. To encourage people to take public transportation, you receive a discount on entry to Castle Howard with your bus ticket—last year my ticket was £13.50 instead of about £18!
Castle Howard is one of the top places to visit in North Yorkshire. Don’t miss a visit to see it decorated for the Christmas holidays!
Have you ever been to Castle Howard, decorated for Christmas or not?