Fans of the Netflix hit series “Bridgerton’ and historic stately homes should add Castle Howard in North Yorkshire to their travel list. Consistently ranking high on lists of the world’s best mansions, Castle Howard is one of the most magnificent homes in England and the story of the family who still keeps it running today, may remind you of the fictional Crawley family in Downton Abbey… or the Bridgertons!
If you’ve been watching Bridgerton, you may remember the scene when newlyweds, Simon and Daphne, arrive at Clyvedon, the Duke of Hasting’s estate in Bridgerton. I’ve walked (and filmed) those same halls that serve as the modern set for the backdrop of Regency era England in the series.
Even the driveway, what’s called the Avenue, a five mile beech lined road leading to Castle Howard, is more than impressive. Once you reach Castle Howard, both the outside and inside are striking and there’s a world of intriguing stories and anecdotes that history expert Jane Blunt relayed on our tour.
Watch the video above for your tour with Jane and below is our transcript from the filming:
JANE BLUNT: If we go back to 1699, the 3rd Earl decided to build a house here, because it was closer to the city of London. He asked all the architects and found John Vanbrugh, who strangely had never built a house before.
Castle Howard Bridgerton filming site in England
This was his very first house, but he was a man full of ideas and broke the conventional rules, so we look at the house here, you can see not only one classical order, but many. The pilasters there are Doric. The groove work, the lines you see scored are Gothic Rustication, which had completely gone out of fashion and Vanbrugh brings it back. The skyline is bristling with urns and statues and things to see and it is said that the people who first came to visit Castle Howard would draw up in their coaches over there, step
out, behold the building and had to reach for their laudanum and their fans, such was their shock when they beheld this building.
DARLEY: The architect, John Vanbrugh, was not only radical in his designs for Castle Howard and for even undertaking the role of architect for this massive project with no formal training in architecture, but equally daring throughout his life, spending time in prison for trying to overthrow the Catholic king, James II and writing a series of plays deemed by many as riskay.
JANE: But you’ve got to realize that Vanbrugh was a man of vision. They say he was an epic architect and one of the examples of that is the view you see here.
Castle Howard Bridgerton filming site in England
DARLEY: It’s stunning.
JANE: The usual rule of building a house was East West in configuration. This was because of religious tradition. Cathedrals and churches faced East to Jerusalem and by habit, houses seemed to follow the same way, but he said, my lord I’m sure he said, look at the view. It is spectacular. Whereas if we face the house East it faces Ray Wood, which is a medieval deer park and nice, but not as spectacular as this.
DARLEY: It is stunning, either way you look.
JANE: It is and this was what was in Vanbrugh’s mind. He didn’t just think about the house and its immediate surroundings. He thought about it on an epic scale all the way out to the horizon.
DARLEY: And equally epic inside, where further innovations in design opened visitors eyes and minds to a new way to building and living.
JANE: So one of the unusual things about this house is that we have corridors. We assume that all houses had them, but up until the building of Castle Howard, you progressed through a house from room to room and very inconvenient it was.
DARLEY: Though short halls and passageways were in use, Castle Howard’s long corridors were innovative in Britain for their time period and Vanbrugh even had to explain what the word meant to the Duchess of Marlborough.
DARLEY: It took more than a hundred years to complete Castle Howard and through this isn’t the home where Downton Abbey is filmed, it has been a private home for over 300 years and much like the fictional Crawley Family, the Howard clan has become creative in their methods of preserving this great estate. Castle Howard has served as the backdrop for a variety of productions, including the 1981 TV series and 2008 film version of Brideshead Revisited. It’s also open to visitors. If you’re coming to tour this wonderful home, take more than a moment in the Great
JANE: Queen Victoria came to visit here and to her great delight, they had installed across where the railings are there in gaslights, God Save the Queen, and everybody was so delighted to see such an amazing sight.
DARLEY: What a welcome. Well the hall is great enough and then I can only imagine having that added to it.
DARLEY: Bit of a fire hazard though.
DARLEY: And while thankfully they didn’t roll out the red carpet or gas lights during my visit, I, like many other visitors to Castle Howard, stand in awe of its beauty and all its historic eccentricities.
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