History and Opulence: Visiting Castle Howard


Need a break from the city? Megan Stoker recommends a trip to Castle Howard, a stately home just a short bus ride outside of York

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Image by Katy Leverett

By Megan Stoker

Castle Howard is a stately home situated in bucolic, rolling countryside beyond the hustle and bustle of the A64.  It has proved to be a first choice for many students to visit and has been a popular day trip for students for many reasons. Firstly, it's convenient proximity to the city of York and the easily navigable journey to and fro- whether you are travelling by car or bus. Secondly, its beauty and grandeur and thirdly the ease with which you can spend the entire day there. Therefore, Castle Howard works fantastically well as a fresher outing that makes a change from exploring the city of York or heading out for the night.

In my experience, transport there from York is easy enough. The Castleline bus that runs between the two destinations from around 9 in the morning to quarter to 5, fits well around the Howard house opening times from 10am-3pm, followed by the closure of the gardens at 6. In addition, it’s an easy jump from Castle Howard to Malton and whilst buses later than this time are pretty much non-existent, Malton has taxi services, Uber or even the train, as it’s only 15 miles outside of the city.

Arriving at the grounds of Castle Howard is certainly impressive with a series of beautifully styled lawns, hedges and flowers. The inside of the house is equally so, decked out in gold, with huge chandeliers and reams of stunning artwork. With knowledgeable and welcoming tour guides, who really romanticise the English fantasy and provide interesting facts and figures, the house is a truly fascinating place to visit for anyone interested in history.

While I was there, there was a small exhibition exploring all of the cinematic and television endeavours of Castle Howard with the likes of Bridgerton (2020-), BridesHead Revisited (1998) being featured. There’s always some kind of interesting exhibition going on at Castle Howard, so every time you visit there's always something new to look at and explore.  Situated in a room between the library (any literature student’s dream) and a decadent, dining room, still in use, the small but informative exhibition was certainly interesting. More so, gaining insight into the many ways that the Castle Howard estate maintains such a grand location. Especially when taking into account the renovations of the rooms damaged by a significant fire in 1940, when the grand dome of the iconic entrance room set ablaze and plummeted into the building.

In the depths of the winter months, another festive favourite is Castle Howard’s annual Christmas events. Despite the Covid related difficulties last year, ‘Christmas in Narnia’ was a roaring success. This year, the estate plans to dazzle visiting crowds again with its, ‘Into The Woods: A Fairy-tale Christmas’ spectacular, which boasts visits from Santa Claus himself, one of a kind Christmas gifts and locally produced delicacies. The theatricality of the Christmas events is always a sight to behold with artistic installations, projections, soundscapes and stunning decorations that really work to bring to life the essence of fairy tales. Especially as summer is drawing to a close, Castle Howard remains a place to explore throughout the seasons. For a further delve into the splendour of Castle Howard’s Christmas display, MUSE Editor Katy Leverett visited the ‘Christmas in Narnia’ experience last year and is a fantastic read for a flavour of what to expect. It is available to read on the Nouse website.

Whilst I have heard concerns about Castle Howard being a little pricey for students, I believe that it’s worth it. With so much to offer and being surrounded by so much beauty, you can always cut costs by bringing food and water with you. However, as a destination it is one that you can’t miss and certainly will make for an exciting day outside of the city.