Christmas decorations at Castle Howard

Christmas is the time of year that sends interior stylists into overdrive (even though they have often been decorating for Christmas several times over since July). We can’t resist it! However, nothing quite compares to the effort and scale that has gone into decorating Castle Howard in Yorkshire this Christmas. Respect goes to the three weeks of non-stop decorating that completed months of planning by Charlotte Lloyd Webber, Bretta Gereke and their team of 6.  The blog’s Christmas present to you this year is an edited highlights tour of Castle Howard’s celebration of The 12 Days of Christmas.

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Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White

The house is a dream architecturally because of its nearly symmetrical front adorned with coronets, urns, cherubs and cyphers. It has been added to over the years but is mainly in Baroque style. When sunlight catches the stone work, the house lights up like a lantern in the landscape. To my mind it is much prettier than architect Sir John Vanbrugh’s (1664 – 1726) other well-known design – Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Film locations

Castle Howard is full of exquisite porcelain collections from Sevres to Minton and Chelsea. You may or may not remember it as the star of TV’s Brideshead Revisited in the 1980s which, in terms of visitors, did for Castle Howard what Downton Abbey has done for Highclere Castle in Hampshire.

Arts & Crafts in the chapel

This was my second visit having previously been a few years ago but this time around as well as the Christmas decorations, it was the chapel which caught my eye.  Every inch is decorated and much of it with Pre-Raphaelite designs by Edward Burne-Jones (stained glass windows) and William Morris.

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Decorated ceiling with Corinthian columns in the chapel at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Striking parquet, marquetry and panelling in the chapel at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Decorated column in the chapel at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Making an entrance at Castle Howard. Heavily decorated balustrade with lights and faux berries, foliage and ribbons. With such scale, I imagine that you have to double, then triple the amount of decorations you think you might need. Love the beautiful shaped sky lights allowing flattering top light. Photo: Charis White
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Bespoke porcelain cabinet with marquetry inlaid wooden plinth and Chinese trunks. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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A small selection of porcelain at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Porcelain cabinet behind The Partridge in The Pear Tree at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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The Partridge in The Pear Tree at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Sparkly, icy faux foliage amongst the classical busts in The Antique Passage at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Multiple silk/velvet ribbons tied onto wall sconces. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Elegant dressing table with double mirrorage and table lamp symmetry in bedroom in Lady Georgiana’s (1783 – 1858)  bedroom at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Plumed four poster bed decorated with fairy lights in Lady Georgiana’s (1783 – 1858) bedroom at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Christmas gown made from fir tree, fairy lights and sprayed foliage in Lady Georgiana’s (1783 – 1858) bedroom at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White.
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Handpainted walls at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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One of the 7 Swans a-swimming at Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Beautifully proportioned mirrored wall sconce with faux wreath and green velvet ribbon. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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3 Hens a-laying in a drawing room with Christmas tree and daybed in Lady Georgiana’s (1783 – 1858) dressing room. The tree is covered with faux birds and topped with a fan painted with hens! Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Turquoise damask silk fabric walls and matching sofa in the Turquoise Drawing Room at Castle Howard. Turquoise makes a fabulous background colour to furnishings. Photo: Charis White
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Sideboard set against a dramatic religious mural with silver food covers, trays and candlesticks. More of the 7 swans a-swimming. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Embroidered dress coat on a silk carver chair. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Scandinavian-style Christmas pendant over a dining table. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Foxed, gilt mirror reflecting family portraits. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Decorated ceiling near the gift shop! Photo: Charis White
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Faux garland of fir with fairy lights entwines a wrought iron staircase. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Regency style curtains and pelmet in the library. Adore. Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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The showstopping moment is The Grand Hall with open fire.  The hall has possibly one of the tallest Christmas trees inside an English house. Charlotte’s team hung over 4,000 baubles on the trees in the house. Photo: Charis White
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700 individual strands of silver wire fairy lights and baubles hang over balcony into The Grand Hall are like a waterfall of cascading light. The height of the tree and these lights forces the visitor to ‘look up’ and admire the tops of the columns and the cupola with its frescoes.
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This is an image from moodboards on display of the tree being brought into The Grand Hall with some of the workers from the estate it took to erect. Castle Howard.
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How to make a grand piano look small. Vanbrugh’s architecture is breathtaking in scale. The Grand Hall, Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White
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Each bauble has been carefully placed to hang over the balcony so that the spacing although looks random, is in reality quite carefully planned. Must have taken ages and is a beautiful way to enhance this space. The Grand Hall, Castle Howard. Photo: Charis White

The 12 Days of Christmas at Castle Howard

You can see The 12 Days of Christmas themed decorations at Castle Howard  until New Year’s Eve, 31st December 2018.

 

Thank you

I hope this has given you a little inspiration for your own decorating.  This weekend, I am looking forward to our son Angus returning home for the holiday. As is family tradition, I shall be enlisting his help to bring home a tree! The decorations won’t be themed other than to have the usual eclectic but much-loved quirky mix from Christmas’s past. In the meantime, I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful end to the year. Thank you so much too for following the blog. Charis x

RHS
Charis White Interior stylist/writer with an online shop

 

 

4 thoughts on “Christmas decorations at Castle Howard

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