Castle Howard, Chatsworth & Brideshead: The Story of Two of England’s Finest Houses
Considered the first great British house of the 18th century and the finest private house in Yorkshire, Castle Howard is an astonishing amalgam of ancient Rome, the British Grand Tour, a cathedral, and a miniature city on a hill. From its Chapel, with a ceiling modeled on the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace and stained glass windows by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, to its sublime dome, the first on a private residence in Britain, to its stunning art collection (some of which is today in the collection of the British Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), to its astonishing gardens, Castle Howard is a dazzling star in the firmament of the great houses of the world.
The first Baroque palace built for a commoner, Chatsworth is set in an enormous park backed by wooded, rocky hills rising to heather moorland from which falls a magical cascade of water. Called “the Palace of the Peak,” the house is bursting with art, the highlight of which is the collection of Old Master drawings, one of the most important in the world. But there’s so much more – painted ceilings by Antonio Verrio and Louis Laguerre that take your breath away, carvings by Grinling Gibbons, sublime furniture and decorative arts, the greatest country house library in Britain, and paintings by Rembrandt, Hals, Van Dyck, Tintoretto, and Veronese. Nothing can quite compare to this Derbyshire palace that has repeatedly been voted the public’s favorite historic house. Architectural historian Clive Aslet summed it up perfectly when he said that Chatsworth “occupies its position as the country house that all other country houses aspire to be like…”
These two great houses are linked by more than sublime architecture, fantastic art collections, and beautiful grounds – the families intermarried in the early 19th century and in the early 21st century they became related through Brideshead Revisited.
Every time I hear Curt lecture I feel better about the world.