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Brideshead Revisited: A trip to Castle Howard

Brideshead Revisited

“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” – Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

One of my favorite things about living in the UK is having the opportunity to visit so many stately homes. I love buildings that are steeped in history. We don’t really get that in America – not on the same scale, anyway. The British have a thing for preserving their heritage and that makes me happy because there are so many beautiful stately homes and other architectural wonders here to photograph.

Last Monday, my friend Ali and I traveled to York to visit Castle Howard. Literature and film lovers probably know it best as the setting for the fictional Brideshead Castle in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Both the 1981 Granada mini-series featuring Sir Laurence Olivier in an Emmy Award-winning performance as Lord Marchmain and the 2008 feature film starring Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw were filmed here. In 1940, a fire broke  out and destroyed the dome and the East Wing of the castle. Although it has been restored on the outside, the East Wing remains gutted and tourists are only allowed to walk through the West Wing.  In 2008, Julian Jarrold transformed a few of the rooms into sets for his Brideshead adaptation. These rooms are now a permanent exhibit about Castle Howard’s involvement in the Brideshead films.

In real life, Castle Howard is home to one of the oldest aristocratic families in England. Charles Howard, the 3rd Duke of Carlisle, commissioned Sir John Vanbrugh to build his stately home in the countryside outside of York. It was constructed between 1699 and 1712 and is still occupied by the Howard family today. Everything about the house and grounds is lavish. From the ostentatious interiors to the beautifully landscaped grounds and the giant Atlas Fountain in the south-facing courtyard, Castle Howard offers no shortage of photogenic beauty. Like Charles Ryder in Brideshead, I had been here before, years ago. This time I came armed with a sense of nostalgia and improved photography skills, or so I like to think!

This is Castle Howard through my eyes.

All photos © Kendra Bean

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