We got an early start to the 2nd day in York and headed outside the city to visit Howard Castle, an immense house in the country of Yorkshire. The house was originally designed by Sir John Vanbrugh for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle. The Howard Castle is a living residence and opened it’s doors to visitors at 11:00am. We arrived early but were permitted to walk the sprawling estate. We entered the garden which was behind a brick wall. Unfortunately, it was too early in the season for the garden to be in full bloom. I was pleased to find a koi pond in the garden.
As I mentioned earlier Howard Castle is a living residence. The current owners is a couple with two young children. In fact, we saw pictures of them in some of the rooms. It was kind of surreal to see pictures of the current family. What’s even more surreal for me is paying to see someone’s home and estate albeit a home that once belonged to a notable figure. I also saw adverts in the restroom stall for renting out cottages on the estate! These notions just shattered my romantic views of life in the peaceful English country. I think I’ve read and watched one too many misadventures of Jeeves and Wooster, and other BBC productions of idyllic country living of the upper middle class.
Speaking of which, Howard Castle was the location set for a movie called Brideshead Revisited. I haven’t seen it but will look for an opportunity to see it or read it.
The residence had also been damaged by fire, and parts of the castle was being restored. It was interesting to see the building revealed from under its sumptuous finishes to see the bricks, stones and timber that give the castle its form and structure. The fire had also damaged some of the original Italian fresco paintings.
After touring the castle, we walked around the other parts of the estate; specifically towards the Temple of the Four Winds. The Temple overlooked a valley below. I was tempted to continue down but it was chained off.
We returned to the city of York and spent the rest of the afternoon taking in the city and shopping. The previous night when we were window shopping, we had noticed a shop selling Teddy bears, Stonegate Teddy Bears. Yes, I love teddy bears! Whats not to love about them!? We returned to the shop and looked over the bears before selecting one; and what a cutie he is! He’s not only a product of England but specifically from York. I’ve renamed this adorable bear from Tootsie to Howard York Stonegate; a Kaycee Bears. For more information, please click here.
We then went for a walk along the ancient city wall. We started it last night but had to turn back around because they were closing the access points. It’s incredible that this much of the wall is still in tact and part of people’s rear gardens.
In the evening we took part in one of those city ghost tours. We had done a similar tour when we were in Prague and it was fun; and thought this would be a similar experience. We met in the square in front of York Minster. There are a couple of different ghost walks in York operated by different guides. You will see signs and fliers on the street and in tourist info office.
Our guide was entertaining and a very good orator. Unfortunately there was a guy who was in our group who was annoying and loud and kept interrupting our guide with dumbass jokes. He was so annoying that he pissed off another guy and he stormed off just as the tour was coming to an end.
Although TH was excited about the city ghost tour, he wasn’t satisfied with the experience. It didn’t end with any theatrics as with our experienced in Prague. It was also not dark either so the spooky effect was a bit lost. I did win a prize for spotting the most cats that were the markers of the architect who designed some residences around York. I got a chum chum lollipop; cola flavor.
For more information about Castle Howard, click here.
For tourist information about the city of York, click here.