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Lakes & Waterways

Ornamental water features are used to dramatic effect in the grounds and gardens at Castle Howard.


It was the 3rd Earl who started work on creating the waterways which now dominate the landscape.

The South Lake, below Temple Terrace, was fashioned in the early 1720s, while a decade later New River was widened from a natural stream. The Great Lake to the north of the house was built by the 5th Earl in the 1790s.

The most recognisable piece of sculpture at Castle Howard, the Atlas Fountain sits at the centre of the South Parterre and is visible from much of the house. The fountain was commissioned by the 7th Earl in 1850 from the landscape gardener William Andrews Nesfield; the sea gods that surround Atlas were carved by the sculptor John Thomas and transported from London by railway. In 2010 it underwent major restoration work.

The 5th Earl installed the Prince of Wales Fountain in the South Lake in the 1850s. Its main jet reaches a height of 40 feet and is powered by the Ray Wood Reservoir, its subsidiary jets, or feathers, are supplied from overflow water form the Atlas Fountain.

Today, in the summer, visitors can (weather permitting) take boat trips on the Great Lake to watch the wildlife and enjoy spectacular views of the house.