A pilgrimage of sorts

In my humble opinion the best TV drama series ever made was Granada Television’s adaptation of the Everlyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited. It was shot in 1981 yet still remains an outstanding piece of TV drama. In the series the location for the Marchmain family home of “Brideshead” was Castle Howard situated about 30 kms outside York.

When Sebastian Flyte first takes Charles Ryder to Brideshead they pull up next to a lake. Beyond the lake is a view of the house (Castle Howard) and Sebastian declares that “this is where his family lives” specifically excluding himself from those who call this place home. This dislocation is one of the key themes of the book and sets the scene for much of what follows.

If you haven’t seen the series, watch it. It is a real treat.

Being a fan of the series, I had always wanted to visit “Brideshead” and as we were in York just a few minutes drive away, this was my opportunity.

Castle Howard is open to the public over summer but in December we could only visit the gardens. It didn’t matter, the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the house could not be missed. So on a cold, overcast day Jean, the girls and I drove to Castle Howard. Despite being the low season there was a steady stream of visitors through the gate – in the summer it must be packed.

The good news is that the dogs were allowed in with us. To see Daisy and Poppie walking the paths and standing in the grounds of the castle was surreal. They, of course, just thought this was the best playground they had ever had and despite the brisk 4 degree temperature seemed to be everywhere. Even old Daisy had a new spring in her step as she walked along the main path to the house past the walled garden and rose collection and the Atlas fountain.

We had just started to explore the gardens when the rain arrived and we were forced back to the car. With no sign of the rain abating we headed back to York. Despite being cut short my pilgrimage had been a success.

2 thoughts on “A pilgrimage of sorts

  1. An interesting but true ironey of this series is that it was, as you say made by Granada Television. At the time, the Chairman of the BBC was George Howard
    Lord Howard of Henderskelfe, (1920-1984.) As head of the family he owned the castle. This meant that Granada executives had to negotiate with the most senior executive of their principal industry compeditor for use of the estate. Ofcourse it was all done in a frightfully British way and, the story goes, by the end of the long lunch, the chairmen of BBC and ITV had not only sealed the deal, but pretty much selected the cast as well. And on the subject of casting, it was this series that really launched Jermeny Irons into stardom.

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