We had a fabulous day yesterday at Castle Howard for our WI Christmas day out. It’s become a bit of a tradition that we visit one of the stately homes decorated for Christmas. This is the second time we’ve been to Castle Howard as it’s always beautiful. It was a lovely crisp, frosty and sunny morning so the coach trip over was a pleasure too…
Castle Howard is in North Yorkshire, about an hour and a half away by coach.
We approached Castle Howard through the edges of Malton, passing the lakes, looking very wintery with the hard frost on the foliage…
…and our first glimpse of the estate buildings.
We arrived at around 10.30 so most of us headed straight for the coffee shop for a little refreshment before walking over to the house itself.
The facade of the house looked stunning in the clear winter sunshine. Castle Howard was built in the 1700’s, it took 100 years!! Eight generations of the Howard family have lived there. If any of you watched Brideshead Revisited all those years ago, it was filmed at Castle Howard.
Castle Howard was decorated with the theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas and it was stunning as usual, there was a room for each day as well as a few extra on old Christmas traditions. Many of the rooms were quite dark so photography wasn’t easy!
All the stairs and corridors are decorated with sumptuous swags, candle wreaths, every fireplace has a huge arrangement overflowing the mantel…
…and there were breath-taking arrangements in the windows….
The partridge in a pear tree was a huge artificial tree covered in blossom lights and hung with dozens of ornate beaded pears. It looked quite magical.
The two turtle doves were in one of the Duchesses bedrooms, what caught my eye though was the Christmas lady dressed in greenery…and doves on her shoulder and her bustle!
Five gold rings looked amazing hung from the dome in centre of the long gallery.
In the halls either side of the gold rings were the ladies dancing and the leaping lords. These were quite cleverly made from what looked like cellophane and cardboard. They were hung from the ceilings or around the room, I loved the colourful shadows thrown onto the ceiling from the clever use of lighting.
Seven swans were a-swimming round a sumptuous dining table, six were easy to spot, the final one is on the top of the central arrangement. The mirrored table sent lovely patterns onto the ceiling.
The eight drummers drumming were in the music room of course. Castle Howard had borrowed some of the drums from the old Green Howards Regiment. You can just see one buy the stool….and just look at that fireplace!!
In the central hall there was of course the HUGE traditional Christmas tree, dripping with hundreds of ornaments. The photo probably only shows the top third of the tree, but it shows the ceiling and the curtain of lights beautifully too.
One of my favourite rooms was actually the most difficult to photograph, lots of bare trees covered with silver and gold ornaments and twinkling lights, it was like walking through an enchanted forest. It was at Castle Howard a few years ago that I first got inspired to have a bare Christmas tree decorated with silver and gold, I use a twisted hazel from the garden, it seems to survive coming into the house for three weeks or so each winter. Of course mine is only about two feet tall!
Of course we all had a good mooch around the Christmas shop, bought a few Christmas presents or just a little memento of the visit! I bought a bauble decorated with lace!
Outside the mist had come down but the gold cupula on the dome was still shining.
We even had time for a wander around the walled rose garden, no roses obviously but it was still nice to wander around.
Another fabulous WI day out 🙂