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Castle Howard is no stranger to ‘changing rooms’!
By Curator Blogger // Thu 6th June 2024
Curator, Crimson Dining Room
When Castle Howard was built in the early eighteenth century, what we now know as the Crimson Dining Room was the State Bed Chamber. Preceded by a Drawing Room and followed by a Dressing Room, the bedroom would have formed part of a suite of rooms, or ‘apartment’, reserved for the King or Queen. At that time bedrooms were not private areas as we might think of them today, and it would be common for the occupant to receive their visitors in the room.
The decoration of this important space was carefully considered by Charles, 3rd Earl of Carlisle and his architects Vanbrugh and Hawkmsoor, with specialist craftsmen overseeing all aspects of the room like Henri Nadauld, a carver who’s bills include the ‘freeses with lyon’. This refers to the frieze with lions, the crest of the Howard family, which forms part of the entablature around the top of the walls.
Every generation makes Castle Howard their own. Henry, 4th Earl of Carlisle was noted for his love of tapestries, and in the middle of the eighteenth-century he redecorated the State Bed Chamber by hanging a set of Vanderbank tapestries on the walls. These had been originally made for the Tapestry Drawing Room.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, bedrooms were becoming increasingly private, and the idea of a State Bed Chamber was falling out of fashion. The bed was removed, and unfortunately no longer exists, though the tapestries remained on the walls. After various uses, in the 1880s the room became a comfortable Sitting Room by George and Rosalind, 9th Earl and Countess of Carlisle.
The tapestries were hastily removed in November 1940s to save them from the fire. Mercifully, the flames did not reach the western end of the south front but had destroyed the Dining Room at the eastern end. Therefore, when George Howard moved back into Castle Howard in the 1950s and set about the colossal task of restoration, he decided to make this room into a Dining Room, and hung it with a crimson damask – hence the name!
The Dining Room remains in frequent use and enables us to showcase displays from our porcelain and silver collections to our visitors.

1: Charlotte Graham
2: Crimson Dining Room in the 1950s
3: Crimson Dining Room in the 1880s