Castle Howard isn’t a castle at all. It is an English stately home, belonging to the Howard family for three centuries. It is surrounded by 13,000 acres of land (including two lakes), in the middle of nowhere, about 15 miles north of York. The Howard line produced the Dukes of Norfolk, who can trace their family tree back to the 13th century. They have connections with the royal family, despite steadfastly remaining faithful to Catholicism since the reformation.
I learned all this from some very helpful and extremely posh guides, who were dotted around this huge house. Posh people always make me feel like an ill-mannered peasant. History lesson over, it was time to explore the immediate environs, including the spectacular Atlas Fountain and the Temple of the Four Winds, before settling down to afternoon tea with the peacocks, with two sugars of course.