Standing in the Howardian Hills to the west of Malton, Castle Howard is an outstanding example of English baroque, with a distinctive roofline punctuated by a magnificent central dome. It served as Brideshead, the home of the fictional Flyte family in Evelyn Waugh's tale of aristocratic woe, Brideshead Revisited, in both the 1981 TV and 2008 film adaptations. The house was the first commission for playwright-turned-architect Sir John Vanbrugh, who, assisted by Nicholas Hawksmoor, designed it for the 3rd earl of Carlisle, a member of the Howard family. Started in 1701, the central portion took 25 years to complete, with a Palladian wing added subsequently, but the end result was a stately home of audacious grandeur.
A spectacular central hallway with soaring columns supports a hand-painted ceiling that dwarfs all visitors, and there's no shortage of splendor elsewhere: vast family portraits, intricate marble fireplaces, immense tapestries, Victorian silver on polished tables,
and a great many marble busts. Outside, the neoclassical landscape of carefully arranged woods, lakes, and lawns led 18th-century bon vivant Horace Walpole to comment that a pheasant at Castle Howard lived better than a duke elsewhere. Hidden throughout the 1,000 acres of formal and woodland gardens are temples, statues, fountains, and a grand mausoleum—even a fanciful children's playground. Hourly tours of the grounds, included in the admission price, fill you in on more background and history.