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Field of dreams.

Byline: Keith Newton

Howard's way will take you to one of the most resplendently magnificent buildings to be found anywhere in the British Isles.

Just take the Bilsdale TT along with the bikers through Stokesley to Helmsley, keep on going towards Malton then follow the signs to the right.

The side road will bring you to a turn which presents you with a breathtaking view.

In front is a great house and you are about to join the millions of others who have gone down this dramatic entrance to Castle Howard and its 10,000 acre estate.

They sit within the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Yet this, amazingly, is just a taster. The inside of this wondrous house itself is still to come.

Ever since its appearance in ITV's landmark television series Brideshead Revisited, the Yorkshire stately home has been a superstar.

It now attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year and has just won two of the Yorkshire Tourist Board's most prestigious White Rose Awards.

Castle Howard took the honours in both of the categories it entered. These were the Visitor Attraction Of The Year for 100,000 visitors and over and the Taste Of Yorkshire Award.

If that alone is not enough good reason to tempt you to pay a visit, then watch or tape Castle In The Country at 3pm from Monday onwards on BBC2.

The 25 programmes, each running to 35 minutes, will be aired every weekday for five weeks, presented by Nikki Chapman, John Craven, Judith Chalmers and James Martin.

They will delve into life at Castle Howard as well as looking at art and antiques, gardening, behind the scenes at the house, and stories from the wider estate.

Better to go though. Set dramatically between two lakes, the 18th century palace designed by Sir John Vanbrugh really is one of Britain's most beautiful historic houses.

Originally, the roof featured more than 100 chimney pots while inside there are more than 60 fireplaces.

Yet its history is quite bizarre. Charles Howard, the third Earl of Carlisle, created Castle Howard with the help of his friend, John Vanbrugh, who had never built a house before in his life.

Vanbrugh, otherwise best known as a playwright, used his charm and self-conviction to assure Charles that he was the man to design one of the greatest country houses in Europe. It seems totally incredible that he was given the task, but he was and he succeeded.

Vanbrugh's vision was such, however, that even when it was built, it took more than a century to complete, spanning the lifetimes of three Earls and countless architects and craftsmen who dedicated themselves to this extraordinary work of art.

All this effort seemed doomed, however, when a huge fire broke out in the south-west wing on November 9, 1940 and swept through the house into the Great Hall, destroying the dome and nearly 20 rooms.

Many thought Castle Howard was finished, but the family refused to accept defeat and slowly set about restoring their architectural masterpiece.

Memorable sights around Castle Howard include the Temple Of The Four Winds, the Mausoleum and New River. There is an adventure playground for children and when the weather is good you can take boat trips on the lake.

The Howard family - currently Simon and Rebecca Howard and their twins Merlin and Octavia - live in part of the house.

You can go inside the other section and guides will be happy to show you around.

This features delights and surprises galore, but you will have to hurry. Castle Howard gardens and park are open daily all year, but the house is only open until Sunday, November 6 and then closed until next spring. Admission charges apply.

The Stable Courtyard gift shops, farm shop, plant centre and Courtyard CafA are open all year with free admission.

Wallace and Gromit, if they can spare the time from chasing were-rabbits, would enjoy the cafe.

Wallace would like the food menu because it features Wensleydale cheese; Gromit could go for the Castle Oct 22-30: Daily children's adventure trails: 12.30pm Animal Trail through the woods; 1.30 Myths And Monsters Adventure Trail with magical, sad and sometimes scary stories behind Castle Howard's garden statues; 2.30 Animal Trail; 3.30 Seeking The Servant house tour especially for children.

Nov 10: NSPCC Christmas Shopping Fair, 9.30am-3.30pm.

Dec 1-24: See the Stable Courtyard specially decorated for Christmas, meet Father Christmas, buy seasonal foods and gifts, and enjoy a variety of entertainment in the run up to Christmas.

Dec 20: Enjoy a magical Christmas celebration with good food, drink and entertainment. Must be pre-booked. Ring Judy Sladden on 01653 648631.

* Castle Howard can also be contacted on 01653 648444.
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Title Annotation:Ents Out and About
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Oct 15, 2005
Words:792
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