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Fascinating house and gardens, Castle Howard
Castle Howard Statley Home (York)
Member Name: julwhite
Castle Howard Statley Home (York)
Advantages: Lots of history, very welcoming
Disadvantages: Can be expensive for families
This review is for the stately home and tourist attraction, Castle Howard, in Yorkshire. The building and the extensive gardens are privately owned by the Howard family and are open to the public.
The castle is more of a large house rather than a defensive structure, and was started in 1701. It has been greatly extended and changed over the years, and has been damaged by fire twice. The second time that the house caught fire was in 1940, and significant damage was done to the property.
I visited in 2009, but I checked the prices for 2010 and they are 12.50 pounds for adults to visit the house and gardens, or 8.50 pounds if you just want to visit the gardens. You can also buy an annual pass to the house and gardens for forty pounds, which is good value if you visit locally. I found the admission prices comparable to other properties run by the National Trust and English Heritage, although they can be expensive if you have a large family.
The house is enormous, and is still lived in the family. There is a fantastic staircase as you enter, but my favourite room was the great hall. This is a large room, which had to be rebuilt after the fire in 1940, and the cracks are still in the floor where the debris from the roof landed during the fire. There are a number of bedrooms and sitting rooms which you can also visit, all feeling very homely and welcoming.
The gardens are extensive, with lots of lakes, footpaths and places to visit, such as the temple, walled garden and wooded areas. The paths are well laid out, and there is much to see, and much changes throughout the year. For me personally, the wooded area was the most interesting to visit.
If you are staying for a few hours, and you will probably want to, then there is a cafe at the site which sells a variety of refreshments and snacks. There is also a farm shop and garden centre if you want further distractions to lengthen the day's visit. Children may like the visit, there's lots to see outdoors and there is also an adventure playground to help keep them distracted!
Some considerable effort has been made by the owners to ensure that the disabled, elderly and young children can visit the property. A lift is available in the house, and all but the chapel and part of the exhibition wing are available for those with limited mobility. However most of the house and gardens are accessible. Dogs are allowed in the gardens only and need to be kept on a lead, with the exception of guide dogs who are welcome in the house and gardens.
The property is open from mid March to late October each year, and also the first half of December. More information on opening times can be found on the house's official web-site at http://www.castlehoward.co.uk/. Castle Howard is situated in North Yorkshire, and most visitors likely use a car to park in their large car park, but local buses also visit the house as well.
In summary, this house has a great deal of history and everything feels very friendly. You can revisit the house throughout the day if you wish, and you are likely to see something new. The prices are reasonable and there is a lot to see, so if historic buildings and gardens sound interesting to you, then it's definitely worth a visit!
Summary: Worth a visit if you like old buildings and gardens!