Castle Howard, Thirsk and Jervaulx Abbey

IMG_1874Bright and early we were up and going to Castle Howard, a beautiful spot in its own right but for me, the setting of much of Brideshead Revisited, the BBC series that absolutely captivated me when it was released WAY back in the day.


Look at the little entrance. The minibus only just managed to get through!


How gorgeous is this?


I chose to walk through the gardens to reach the house. The house is set down from where you pay to get in, so you can either take a little ride down or choose to walk. As a hardened walker now, after spending a week in London with Scott, I elected to do a gentle stroll down through the rose and veggie gardens ( a fabulous garden, that one) to reach the fountain where Julia and Charles have that very fraught talk towards the end.


It’s pretty darned impressive. Here’s a close-up:




A herbaceous border.


This was all they did with the edgings. No mulch either.


There was a MASSIVE veggie garden. I got a little bit excited and took lots of photos. See how they have a bean arch into the garden (at the back of the photo) with some roses to make it look pretty and bring the pollinators? The beds were edged with these wire fences, which I’ll have to do to keep Poppy and Jeff off the beds, but they didn’t look too bad.


A herb bed. Doesn’t it look great?


Now I know what kohl rabi looks like. I have the seeds to plant when I get home; now I know what to look for.


This is how your veggie garden looks like if you’re the Earl of Carlisle. *sigh*


I took masses of garden shots because I was sure they’d be against taking photos in the house. But they were fine with it. So following are shots of how the other half lives.


But first here’s me with my souvenir. Even though I’m SO not a soft toy person, I just had to get my own Aloysius. The lady in the gift shop was lovely. At first she just let me choose from what was there, but after I talked with her a little while about my holiday and how much fun I was having, she came out from behind the counter, dug around the back of the bears and produced the closest one they had to the real Aloysius. It was 10GBP cheaper than I one I was going to get and a good deal lighter too. (Scott, we’re going to need a fairly large box to send some souvenirs back home. I don’t think I can close my case now…)


Remember the shot of the house at the top of the post? It has PEOPLE on the top of it.


I was walking in the long gallery and there was this painting in the corner. Every Cavalier owner worth their salt knows this face… and sure enough, it’s a happy snap of Charles II. I was so glad I noticed it.


Here’s a shot of the chapel at the back. The guide there was telling someone how in a Howard wedding in the 70’s?? 80’s??? They flew out Rod Stweart to sing in here for the wedding, as the bride was a big fan. They were very nice and allowed all the people who were working at the wedding to attend as well.




Nice gilding.


This original poem by Burns was up in the corner of one of the bedrooms. No one pointed it out… I had to ask the guide. Makes you wonder what else is tucked away in these big houses.


The guides here were fantastic. I especially liked an elderly gentleman who was in the music room. He got a bit flirtatious while talking about Melbourne… he’d visited a couple of years before I was born; kissed my hand when I left the room… but he told me some fabulous stories about the house and the people.

The guides are all very proud of the fact that this house is still lived in. The Howards want their kids to live with their feet on the ground, so for their kindergarten and early primary years they sent them to the village school. Now they’re in secondary they go to a private school but in the holidays and on the weekends they still have friends from everywhere come over and they race around “like gadflies.” They guide said,” It’s lovely to hear. The kids are all over the place and you hear, “I say, what do you think you’re doing?” Then you hear, “I’m not doing nuffink. Wotcha fink you’re doing?” It’s a lovely mix.”



The statues along the hallways are incredible. Some are ‘only’ a couple of hundred years old, while some are a couple of centuries old. I noticed that some were on tables but were bolted to the wall. I assumed it was because they didn’t want tourists either knocking them over or knocking them off. According to the guide, it’s because the kids ride up and down the halls on their skateboards and they didn’t want any accidents!


A beautiful old lady with the loveliest Edinburgh accent (I asked her) was in ‘Lady Georgiana’s bedroom.” She was telling us about the pictures in the room.


The movie, ‘The Duchess’ was about Lady Georgiana’s mother. Here are the two of them together.

The guide in the music room also told me about how close the family got to certain people who worked for them. One of the ladies, I can’t remember which one, had her ladies maid with her since she was 14. The maid is buried next to her in the family mausoleum.


No real reason for this shot. I just like the look on the face of the goat.


Here are some shots of the rooms they did up when shooting Brideshead Revisited.



After I finished the house I went out (with a cheery wave to the nice lady in the gift shop as I went past) and then I stood in front and looked at the view. Imagine having this as your front yard? All I could hear was the wind through the big trees to the right and the sound of water lapping, with every now and then the quack of a duck. It was beautiful.


I have to say I love this boar. I’d love something like this in my garden, though probably on a slightly smaller scale. It’d make me laugh every day.


I then chose to walk back up to the bus through the trees. I like the way that the English leave sections of grass to grow wild, so that the bees have something to nibble on.




Back up at the top gift shop I met a few more dogs, thus easing my Poppy and Jeff pangs, and then off we went on our next adventure.



This is just for any cricket fans out there, you wild and crazy kids.

We went to Thirsk for lunch. I was so excited when the bus driver said that’s where we were ending up. In Venetia by Georgette Heyer, they live near there and Damerel rides off to Thirsk to get lint for Venetia’s brother’s injured leg. OMG!!!!!!

You know, it’s a little frightening just how many place names and characters’ names I’ve retained from those novels. I’m seeing them pop up everywhere. It’s giving me little thrills every time I see one.


Thirsk also happens to be where James Herriot lived. Not his real name of course. I don’t know his full works, but I own a well-thumbed copy of his ‘Dog Stories’, so I grabbed a panini and ate it while I walked to his house and surgery.




They’re very proud of this statue. It’s only 3 months old. His back yard wasn’t all that big, was it?





They’ve done a beautiful job of it, aside from scary-looking mummies sitting on chairs. One has a fake dog in its arms that has a motion sensor. I went into the first room and I nearly jumped out of my skin when I was barked at.

The rooms are like little time capsules from the 1940s.


It even had an air raid shelter under the house. Now THIS was really interesting.

This fan in the window was really effective. It was bringing in fresh air really effectively.










On our way through the countryside we stopped for 20 minutes or so at this abandoned abbey. Jervaulx Abbey. It was a thriving community until Henry VIII came along.






It’s a beautiful place. I met Charlie here.


Then we arrived at Ambleside, next to Lake Windermere, where we spend the next two nights.



After dinner the others retired to bed, but as has become our habit, the bus driver and I went out for a drink. This is where we were sitting beside the lake at 10:30PM. It was still and clear and the swans were floating past. The ducks were too but they’re not as poetic. It was lovely.


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2 Responses to Castle Howard, Thirsk and Jervaulx Abbey

  1. scottsabode says:

    Check your app to see how many kilometres you’ve walked! I know a courier place where we can take your excess baggage but be prepared…
    Bus driver, eh?

  2. Thank you so much for the photos and for sharing your wonderful trip. I am loving it.

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