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Castle Howard


ASTLE HOWARD is finely situated on a gentle eminence, well wooded, and looking down on a large and ornamental lake. It is about fifteen miles north and northeast of York, and near Kirkham Abbey. The south front of the building is very fine It is 325 feet in length, and in its centre is a pediment and entablature supported by fluted Corinthian pilasters. Wings of lower height extend on each side of it. The north and entrance front has an elaborate centre of the Corinthian order, a cupola rising from the top, and with extensive wings on each side. The castle is one of the chefs-d'oeuvre of Vanburgh.

The Great Hall is a fine apartment; it is 35 feet square, and 65 high, and is lighted by a dome, the centre of which is 100 feet above the door of the hall. It is painted with the fall of Phaeton, by Pellegrini, who has also adorned the walls with paintings of the Seasons, the twelve signs of the Zodiac, and other designs. The fireplace is of richly carved marble, and is finely sculptured.

The great hall

The dining-room is 27 feet by 23, and has, besides fine paintings, busts of Marcus Aurelius, and a Bacchanal; bronzes of Brutus, Cassius, and Laocoon, a beautiful urn of green porphyry, and slabs of Sicilian jasper.

The saloon is 34 feet by 24. The ceiling is painted with Aurora, and it contains many fine pictures and sculptures.

The drawing-room, 27 feet by 23, is hung with tapestry, from the designs of Rubens.

The Antique Gallery is 160 feet long, and 20 broad, and contains some rare antique marble slabs, two tables of Egyptian granite, a small gilt statue, found, it is said, in the wall of Severus, pictures, tapestry, and valuable books.

The state bedroom, 26 feet by 22, is hung with Brussels tapestry, after designs of Teniers.

The collection of pictures at Castle Howard is a very fine one. The Earl of Carlisle of that period purchased some very splendid ones in 1789, when the Orleans collection was sold; the most valuable of which are the "Three Marys" of Annibale Caracci; the "Entombment," by Ludovico Caracci; and the "Adoration of the Magi," by Mabeuse. The whole collection is, indeed, valuable. The present earl is himself a good artist, and has inherited much of the artistic taste of his predecessors.

The gardens are very large and beautiful, and in them is a fountain very finely sculptured. The grounds are also extensive, and are picturesque with every variety of woodland beauty. They are also adorned with memorial pillars, commemorating events in the family; and there are terracewalks, a lake, and amid thick woods the mausoleum of the Earls of Carlisle, a circular building, surrounded with a colonnade of pillars. The park is well filled with deer; and the shorthorned cattle are well known.

A castle stood here in Edward III.'s reign, built by the Baron of Greystock. It was named Hinderskelfe, or "Hundred Hill" Ralph Lord Greystock's only daughter Elizabeth married Thomas, Lord Dacre of Gillesland, and the Dacres possessed the castle till the marriage of Elizabeth, sister and co-heir of George, Lord Dacre, with Lord William Howard, known on the Borders afterwards as Belted Will.

He was the younger son of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, of Elizabeth's reign; one of the most chivalrous and popular of her nobles, and allied in blood to herself. He entered into an engagement to marry Mary Queen of Scots, then a captive in England. The plot was discovered, and Elizabeth gave him a warning, telling him to be "careful on what pillow he laid his head;" but he again renewed the perilous intrigue, was arrested, sent to the Tower, and finally beheaded—the first victim of Elizabeth, who thus far had not sent any one to the block. His youngest son was then only eight years old.

The duke had three wards, the co-heiresses of the great estates of Lord Dacre, and he destined them for his three sons. Of these, after the duke's death, the little Lady Elizabeth Dacre became ward to the queen; she had been left an orphan in her seventh year. She and Lord William were horn the same year, Lady Elizabeth a few months after Lord William, and for at least a year they had inhabited the same home, and been playfellows. When both were in their ninth year, the duke was beheaded, and the little lady passed into the queen's charge. Queen Elizabeth was always believed to have deeply regretted having put the Duke of Norfolk to death. She fulfilled his intentions, and when the young betrothed were each fourteen years old she married them. They were married at Audley End, near Saffron Walden, Essex, the house of Lord William's elder brother, Thomas inherited from his mother - in 1577, and they resided afterwards at a place called Mount Pleasant, in Enfield Chase.

The eldest son of the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Arundel, did not, of course, succeed to his father's ducal title, as he had forfeited it and his property by treason; but we are told by Miss Strickland, in her life of Elizabeth, that the queen treated him for some time as an especial favourite, retaining him at her court, while his wife lived neglected at Arundel Castle. When at length the young earl went back to his countess, he became devotedly attached to her, and as she was a Roman Catholic, she succeeded in converting him to her own faith. Lord William also adopted it, and in consequence of the severity of the laws against Papists, it became necessary that they should leave England.

In 1582 Lord Arundel endeavored to escape to the Continent, but he had been closely watched, and was arrested on the Sussex coast, and sent to the Tower. Lord William Howard was also sent to the Tower.

Lady Elizabeth, on attaining her majority, had received her inheritance of Naworth and Gillesland, in Cumberland, and she and her husband had possessed them till he and his brother were imprisoned in the Tower Then a Mr. Francis Dacre, of ungenerous memory, claimed them, and no one dared defend the property or rights of those who were under the displeasure of the queen Most of the timber was cut down at this time, and the picturesque and beautiful castle of Naworth was let go to decay.

Lord Arundel died in the Tower, and Lord William and his widowed sister-in-law had to purchase back their own lands from the queen for the sum of £10,000.

At length the last terrible Tudor died, and the prospects of Lord William brightened. The Duke of Norfolk had died for wishing to wed and free the captive mother of King James, and though the Scottish king was unable to punish those who had been her cruel enemies, he showed favour to all who had been her friends. Lord William was restored in blood, and went into Cumberland to meet James on his entry into his kingdom. It was probably at this time that King James appointed him Warden of the Marches.

He had no sooner been restored to his property than he began to repair the picturesque castle of Naworth, that was once more his own. While the repairs were proceeding he lived at a hunting seat he had in Westmoreland. He had been in great poverty at one time before the accession of James, and had become deeply in debt; and after he had been restored to his inheritance he had for some years to pay ten per cent. on borrowed money. The repairs of Naworth were also a pull on his income, and he had to exercise the greatest economy for twenty years He much improved the castle, heightened the hall, and enlarged its windows, and took for his own use the chambers in the tower at the southwest angle of the fortress, still called Lord William's Tower.

The destruction of Castle Kirk Oswald enabled him to obtain its oak roof or ceiling and its wainscot work for his own castle These roofs were divided into panels, each painted with an historical portrait.

These perished in 1844, but in the chamber Lord William used as his library there is still the fine oak roof in panels which was brought from Kirk Oswald. He enriched his oratory also with alabaster statues, brought from thence, but supposed to have once belonged to Lancercost Priory Church. The wainscot of his bedroom has been preserved. The walls of this tower are remarkably thick, and the only access to his rooms was by a long gallery, paced by his armed followers ; and his chambers had doors of great strength near the entrance from the gallery. His bedroom was in the tower chamber, above it was his library, and by the side of it his oratory. Between the floor of the oratory and the ceiling below a secret chamber was formed. The descent into it was behind the altar, and in the days of persecution it probably sheltered many a priest. These rooms, the furniture he used, the books he read, his sword and the altar where he prayed were seen by Sir Walter Scott, and remained intact till the fire. Lord William kept at Naworth a garrison of 140 men to defend the Borders. It was his boast that he would keep them so that the "rush-bush should guard the cow," a state of affairs that must at that time have been considered impossible, but he achieved it. It was said that the moss-troopers had only two enemies, the law and Lord William Howard, who, when they were taken plundering and burning, sent them straight to Carlisle, where they were hanged without any delay. At the same time he was no oppressor, but a kindly, courteous gentleman, a student as well as a soldier, and as chivalrous as a knight errant.

Sir Walter Scott thus describes him in the "Lay of the Last Minstre":-

"Costly his garb - his Flemish ruff
Fell o'er his doublet, shaped of buff,
With satin slashed and lined;
Tawny his boot, and gold his spur,
His cloak was all of Poland fur,
His hose with silver twined;
His Bolboa blade, by Marchmen felt,
Hung in a broad and studded belt."

A belt used to be shown as Lord William's at Naworth. It was of leather, with a couplet in German, the letters formed by metal studs. It is possible this may have belonged to "Belted Will."

He was succeeded by his grandson. Sir William Howard, who was succeeded by his second son, Charles. This great grand-son of Lord William was created Baron Dacre of Gillesland, Viscount Howard of Morpeth, and Earl of Carlisle. His son Edward became second earl, and died in 1692. He was succeeded by Charles, the third earl. The old castle of Hinderskelfe was burnt down in his time, and Castle Howard was erected on its site.

Frederick, the fifth Earl of Carlisle, was the author of "Tragedies and Poems," and was the guardian of Lord Byron.

The present earl succeeded his uncle, being the son of the Hon. Charles Howard and the daughter of the late Lord Wensleydale, of Ampthill Park.

Naworth Castle

Naworth Castle is one of the most picturesque and beautiful ruins in Cumberland. The approach to it is most striking. It stands on a hill above the river Irthing, over which it towers to a great height. The banks are thickly wooded, and very old trees are all round it. The interior is also very ancient and picturesque. There is a long gallery, in which relics of Belted Will or Bauld (bold) Willie, as the people called him, are kept, with portraits of the family. The great hall is of good size, and is lighted by windows high up near the ceiling, and one large oriel at the southern end. The ceiling is formed of wooden panels, having on them portraits of the kings of England from Saxon times to the Wars of the Roses.

In the dining-room are two portraits of Lady William Howard, the beloved wife of the great warden. Brought up together, and living with each other, with few separations, from childhood to age, they were, perhaps, one of the most attached couples ever known. The lady died at over seventy; her husband survived her little more than a year.

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Picturesque England - Matthew Spong 2004