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Castle Howard Celebrates 75 Years of Brideshead Revisited
Chris Ridgway
By Dr Chris Ridgway  //  Fri 29th May 2020
Curatorial, History, Collection, Estate, Brideshead
Seventy-five years ago, in May 1945, just three weeks after VE Day, Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited was published. Little did anyone, including the author, know how it would turn into an enduring classic – the novel has not been out of print since then.

 

The story of Brideshead Revisited is about many things – youth, love, artistic creation, religion, families, guilt, unhappiness, loss, war, and the passing of an era. But Brideshead Revisited is also a story about journeying – travelling to and from the home of the Flyte family. Characters repeatedly arrive or depart, and much of the action of the story occurs at Brideshead: introductions and confrontations; summer days with nude sunbathing and wine tasting; a hunt and a ball; prayer, devotion, and death. Even when the characters are absent from Brideshead its presence is never that removed; the house exercises a strong influence on individuals, whether they are in London, Oxford, Venice, Morocco, or even onboard an Atlantic liner. In that respect the central character in the story is Brideshead itself: the house and all it stands for.


But where exactly is Brideshead? Early in the novel Sebastian Flyte drives Charles Ryder to his family home in a borrowed open, two-seater Morris-Cowley. The two men set off one morning from Oxford, they cross into the county of Berkshire, then at Swindon they turn off the main road, stopping to eat strawberries and drink wine in a field. Resuming their journey they drive for another hour before halting at an inn for further refreshment. Afterwards they drive on and by early afternoon reach their destination, Brideshead.