When is a castle not a castle?

by Paul Stevenson

by Mandy Miller

When it's Castle Howard.  Castle Howard is one of the 10 Treasure Houses of England, and it has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years. Technically, it is not a true castle, because it was built after the castle-building era and was never used as a defensive position in battle. It is actually an English country house, and it has been home to the Howard family for over 300 years. It is easily recognisable by fans of Brideshead Revisited, in fact over the years, it has been the location for a number of different films.

The beauty of the home and its surrounding grounds is unparalleled. It has served as the inspiration for other examples of Georgian architecture, both in the United Kingdom and in the Americas.

If you are planning a visit, there are many things that you are sure to see, such as the Atlas fountain in front of the house. But, there are others things that you might miss, if you don't know to look for them. Below, you will find a description of those that are just a bit off the beaten track.

Kew at Castle Howard

The Kew is a separate 127 acre arboretum, very close to the house and gardens. Although entrance to the arboretum is separate from the rest of the grounds, for plant lovers, it is well worth a side trip.

Temple of the Four Winds

The Temple of the Four Winds is one of several monuments on the estate. Daily tours of the temple are conducted from March 1st through the end of November.

It originally served as a pavilion where guests took refreshments and passed the time enjoying the cool breezes on one of the four porticos, each facing towards a different compass point. Today, it is a site of curator lectures, as well as the regular tours.

The Gardens

The gardens are arguably the highlight of the Castle Howard grounds during every season of the year. They are open every day of the year, except Christmas, from 10am to 6:30pm or until dusk, during the winter months.

Within the 18th Century Walled Gardens are Lady Cecillia's Garden, the Sundial Garden and the Venus Garden, which comprise the Rose Gardens. 2000 different types of roses are found within the walls of the garden, making it one of England's most comprehensive collections.

Ray Wood or the "Woodland Garden" includes a unique combination of foot trails and pathways through a wooded setting highlighted by rhododendron, hydrangeas, magnolias and other flowering plants, as well as spring-blooming fruit trees and a variety of ornamental plantings, all planned by landscaping designer James Russell for maximum visual effect.

What you have read about here is just a sample of what there is to see and do at Castle Howard. You could visit for a day or spend a lifetime enjoying its exceptional beauty.

Mandy Miller is a travel writer who writes for many quality websites including AboutBritain.com