Castle Howard, Historic House North Yorkshire
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The Building of Castle Howard

Vitruvius Britannicus Image

Although building work began in 1699, the construction of Castle Howard took over 100 years to complete, spanning the lifetimes of three Earls.

The 3rd Earl of Carlisle enlisted the help of his friend,  dramatist John Vanbrugh. Vanbrugh, having never built anything before, recruited Nicholas Hawksmoor to assist him in the practical side of design and construction and between 1699 and 1702 the design evolved.

Built from east to west, the house took shape in just under ten years. By 1725, when an engraving of the house appeared in Vitruvius Britannicus (The British Architect), most of the exterior structure was complete and its interiors opulently finished.

However, at the time of Vanbrugh’s death in 1726 the house was incomplete; it lacked a west wing as attention had turned to landscaping the gardens. It was still incomplete when the 3rd Earl died in 1738. Little could both men have guessed that, when the house came to be completed by Carlisle’s son-in-law Sir Thomas Robinson, Vanbrugh’s flamboyant baroque design would be brought back down to earth by the 4th Earl’s conservative Palladian wing.

From the outside, the unbalanced appearance of the house provoked a mixed response, and many visitors noticed the disjointedness.

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