Castle Howard: the Star of “Brideshead Revisited”

by hookedonhouses on April 6, 2009

Welcome to another Movie Monday, when I feature the beautiful homes used in television and film. With due respect to the fine actors in the 2008 version of “Brideshead Revisited,” the hauntingly beautiful Castle Howard was the true star of the movie for me. Castle Howard is considered to be one of the grandest private residences in England today. Brideshead novelist Evelyn Waugh visited it and is said to have used it as his inspiration for the ill-fated home in his book. I couldn’t take my eyes off it and was always peering around the actors, trying to get a better look at the walls and statues and staircases behind them.

Emma Thomson as Lady Marchmain

Emma Thomson as Lady Marchmain

Here are some of the photos I took from the movie of the castle, which is a castle in name only since it was never used for a military function. This great arch is just the beginning of the long drive to the castle:

When they drive over the hill, through the arch, Charles Ryder sees Castle Howard for the first time. “You LIVE here?” he asks his friend Sebastian.

The Great Hall’s painted arches and dome are pretty spectacular for a family home:

Photo by David Foster

Photo by David Foster

Julia (Hayley Atwell) brings Charles (Matthew Goode) to Brideshead, where he’ll spend the summer with the family. Charles comes from a modest background and is quickly seduced by the family’s privileged lifestyle:

The home has its own private chapel. In this scene, Charles Ryder, who is an atheist, watches the devoutly Catholic family reciting their evening prayers:

The movie was so dark it was hard to get a good look at the chapel. I found an amazing photo gallery of the home by a photographer in the U.K. named David Foster, who was allowed access by the Howard family to these rooms. You can see much more detail of the chapel in his photo:

Foster also photographed a bedroom that is much clearer than anything I could get from the movie:

The turquoise drawing room:

The china landing:

The Long Gallery:

The Crimson Dining Room:

The Temple of the Four Winds, one of the two “garden buildings” on the estate, where the characters spent a lot of time hanging out and drinking:

The grounds are extensive. Castle Howard sits on 10,000 acres. When you go for a picnic in the garden, it’s best to bring servants to carry your refreshments for you:

The family gathers in the patriarch’s bedroom as he dies. Despite living “a life of sin” outside the Roman Catholic Church, he accepts a priest’s last rites and makes a sign of the cross. Evelyn Waugh said he witnessed something similar when one of his friends died, and the experience inspired him to write the novel (as a former English major, I feel obligated to share literary trivia like this with you):

The Great Fireplace:

By David Foster

By David Foster

The house looks so dark and cold in the movie that it almost gave me chills to look at (you can see it looks much brighter and warmer in the photos by Foster). Brideshead seemed more like a museum or old church than a home–which is somewhat the point of the film.

When the war starts, the British army takes over Brideshead. I’m always fascinated by how the great homes became military headquarters during war time. The movie shows the soldiers carefully covering all of the priceless paintings and statues as they took it over:

Ironically, Charles is stationed there during the war–the house he had once been willing to do almost anything to have:

The famous Atlas fountain:

The Rose Garden (another lovely photo by David Foster):

I love learning about the history of houses. Castle Howard took about 100 years to build, beginning in 1699, and the Howard family still lives there (much of the home is open to the public for tours, however). This picture of the home was published in 1819:

The 1981 Brideshead television miniseries that Jeremy Irons starred in was filmed at Castle Howard, too. To watch a clip from the miniseries that offers some beautiful views of the stately home and its grounds, click here.

You can visit Castle Howard’s official website for more information or David Foster’s online gallery to see more photos.

(I’m joining Fifi’s Fashionable Fridays blog party today. Check out what everyone else is talking about!)

If you’re hooked on houses from movies and TV shows, click here to see the list of the ones I’ve featured before or to suggest ones you’d like me to feature in the future. The most popular so far? The houses from:

We’re traveling while the kids are on Spring Break this week, but I’ll check in whenever I can get my hands on some Internet access (wish me luck!). While I’m gone, don’t forget to enter the Not So Big House book giveaway at HomeDigz. Every time you leave a comment at HomeDigz between now and April 15, you earn another entry!

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Liz April 6, 2009 at 7:57 am

Nothing makes me want a wool sweater like an English manor house.

Melanie April 6, 2009 at 8:00 am

And they say American’s are over the top in their McMansions :)

Pam April 6, 2009 at 8:21 am

Just think of all the micro fiber dust cloths they must go through. Yikes!

Pam’s last blog post..Meandering Monday

bungalow_bliss April 6, 2009 at 8:42 am

Lol, Pam!

bungalow_bliss’s last blog post..Ready for the Rain

Sher April 6, 2009 at 8:52 am

You forgot to thank me for allowing you to access this little vacation bungalow of mine. (Yeah, uh-huh!) My first thought was, “I wonder how long it would take me to find a bathroom.” LOL – can you tell my age from that comment?

Sher’s last blog post..Does This Kid Look Familiar? Chandy Deconstruction and a WINNER!

AnNicole@OurSuburbanCottage April 6, 2009 at 9:12 am

I’ve never heard of this movie, but I think I’ll have to rent it! It’s gorgeous! I love period movies like this.

AnNicole@OurSuburbanCottage’s last blog post..My Faux Vintage Grain Sack

Holly April 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

Can you imagine really living there? Wow, amazing!

Holly’s last blog post..Looks like it’s gonna be a good crop this year, Vern.

Granny Smith Green April 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

Absolutely amazing!

Granny Smith Green’s last blog post..Inside the Designer’s Studio

Jane @ Beach House April 6, 2009 at 12:35 pm

The movie pales in comparison with the 1980s British TV series that starred Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews but both used the imposing Castle Howard as the stately home Brideshead

Jane @ Beach House’s last blog post..Counting Chairs (and tables)

Arleen @ Seasons for All at Home April 6, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Hi Julia. I’ve not seen this movie but, wow, what stunning rooms! I love the gilding and ornate architecture, but most of all I love how they hung paintings in that era. Thank you once again for sharing with us so many detailed still frames of another grand movie! ~Arleen

Arleen @ Seasons for All at Home’s last blog post..Inspiration ~ Decorating with Egg Cups

rue April 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Hi Julia :)

What a gorgeous home! I think it’s so wonderful that the same family lives there. Incredible post as usual :)


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LaurelStreet April 6, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Julia – I’m thrilled by this post – this house is astounding. Thanks for pulling up some of the more vivid shots to better see the details of these rooms, like the chapel. Having read Brideshead (at least three times – and so many other Waugh novels – pure heaven) I’m ashamed to say I have not yet seen this most recent adaptation! It is going in my NetFlix queue this minute. I can’t wait!

LaurelStreet’s last blog post..Meet my new best friend!

Robin April 6, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I am the same way about some houses in movies, I want to tell the actors to get out of my way so I can see the house better!

Gorgeous little shack they have here, I think I will have to push this movie up farther in my netfix queue…

Robin’s last blog post..It’s like LiteBrite, but with legs

Gennaro April 6, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Really like this idea of revisting a film through the homes in it. That is an amazing home not just for the grandeu, but for its connection with art and history.

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Suzy April 6, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Reminds me of the Vanderbilt mansion in RI…The art pieces are also all on top of one another and nailed so high! The ornate pieces seems so similar also.

Suzy’s last blog post..Gearing up for the Jewish Holiday Coming…

Natalie April 6, 2009 at 10:53 pm

Great post!

I am finding myself drawn to the several large portraits hung in groupings thing happening in these shots.

Might try and use them as inspiration to create some arrangements on my own walls.

Natalie’s last blog post..Went to a Twilight Convention ( AccioCon) this weekend…

Mom in High Heels April 7, 2009 at 2:18 am

WOW! Despite really wanting to, I’ve yet to get around to seeing this movie. I now HAVE to and have to add CH to my list of grand houses to see in England.

Mom in High Heels’s last blog post..I have and Etsy shop!

Robyns Online World April 7, 2009 at 10:47 am

I always love the outside of these mansions, but the insides are just too ornate for me usually.

Robyns Online World’s last blog post..Happy No Housework Day!

Jan April 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

My Dh and I visited Castle Howard years ago — during a gorgeous spring day with oceans of daffodils waving in the breeze! It was his first “Stately Home” visit and tour — and he LOVED seeing the portraits of the famous and infamous Howards and their connections to King Henry VIII.

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Angela April 7, 2009 at 1:21 pm

WOW – I have never heard of this house (or this movie)! Beautiful! I am going rent this one!
Oh, I watched a great TV show about a house in a Minnesota (I think), and I would like to email you the details! It’s fascinating!

Angela’s last blog post..Healthy Seven Layer Dip

Kellye April 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Jan, I didn’t realize that it was the home of THOSE Howards. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

Anonymous April 9, 2009 at 1:08 am

Gorgeous. And if I’m not mistaken, Castle Howard was also featured in the Masterpiece Theater miniseries from the 1990s called “The Buccaneers.”

The Duke’s home was Castle Howard, and there were lots of lovely Newport, Rhode Island homes featured as well. Might be a fun one for everyone to watch just to see the interiors!

greenie May 5, 2009 at 10:01 pm

Be–U–Tee–Full! I know this from the PBS series (with Jeremy Irons). Awesome adaptation of the book. This house is stunning and the perfect setting for the story.

Stephen July 3, 2009 at 10:55 pm

Castle Howard is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture. The exterior was also featured in the 1975 film “Barry Lyndon”. The recent feature film of “Brideshead Revisited,” however, was not compelling in its attempt to subvert what Evelyn Waugh intended and pales next to the original 1981 TV miniseries.

The branch of the Howard family that resides here are distant cousins of the Howards (technically Fitzalan-Howards) who hold the dukedom of Norfolk, are still Catholic, and reside at Arundel Castle in the south of England, an actual medieval castle with Victorian upgrades. Arundel Castle has plausibly substituted for Windsor Castle in the 1994 film “The Madness of King George” and in the upcoming “The Young Victoria,” to be released later this year.

Sara January 6, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I loved the kitchen in Hancock — before the refrigerator was thrown. I loved the windows and expansive counters and storage space.

European Chic July 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm

A nice little place for the weekend. Seriously, I´ve been there and the place is amazing.
.-= European Chic´s last blog ..Happy weekend! =-.

Bev August 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I live not far from the beautiful castle, and believe me, the drive up to it is truely amazing!!

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