Castle Howard, Historic House North Yorkshire
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The Great Fire of 1940

Children watch the dome ablaze

On the morning of 9th November 1940, fire broke out at Castle Howard.

The blaze began as a chimney fire in the south-east corner of the South Front, and swept westerly through the building. 

Fanned by strong winds, the fire destroyed rooms in the basement, principal and upper levels, as well as the dome, which collapsed into the Great Hall.

That the damage was not more extensive was thanks to the fire service, who eventually brought the blaze under control, and to the girls of Queen Margaret’s School, Scarborough, who had been evacuated to Castle Howard and were able to salvage some of the contents.

Nearly a third of the building was left open to the skies and the biggest architectural loss was the dome. In time the debris was cleared and the structure made secure, and the exposed parts of the building received a temporary roof and new windows. It would be another twenty years before major restoration work began.

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