We went to a castle today! Castle Howard to be specific. And we have tons of pictures, so less talk and more pictures are the plan for this post. I'll have to quote from the Lonely Planet guide book on this one, because it says it the best:
"Stately homes my be two a penny in England, but you'll have to try pretty d$#% hard to find one as breathtakingly stately as Castle Howard." -Lonely Planet
We took a local bus to get there are weren't disappointed (with the house, the bus was fine too but you don't care about that do you? : ) Evidently it was filmed in two movies, an original and a remake, both called Brideshead Revisited, which I've never heard of. The guy who designed the place in 1699, John Vanburgh, had no formal training and was known as a playwright... but I think he did a pretty decent job for a drama guy. The grounds and home itself are beautifully maintained.
|When I see this I think Pride and Prejudice|
|Get ready for Pride and Prejudice references folks: Lady Catherine's house anyone??|
|This pic reminds me of the hall at Pemberly where Elizabeth sees Darcy's portrait and really falls in love for the first time|
|This is the chapel inside the house|
|Elizabeth Bennett? : ) !!!|
|Mr. Wickham??! Just kidding.|
I feel like the storm clouds in the background really fit the mood of the picture
|During the Christmas season, the house is closed to the public and the family lives here|
|A depiction of what the house looked like in the 1800s|
|It really hurt to take this picture|
|Beautiful fabrics all around the house|
|Spot of tea on the cold castle grounds!|
After touring, we ate a scrumptious lunch at the castle cafe (I had quiche!). (Andrew's Note: Mine may have been the best steak pie I've ever had in my life, made with the Angus beef from the farm on the property! Think of the best pot roast you've ever had and put a crispy puff pastry on top. I know, right?!!) We rode back to York and went running (Because I had quiche!!). Can't get over how nice it is to run in 60 degree weather in July. (Not to mention the whole running in the scrubby wildflower-y English country side. That'll do, Donkey.)
Then we had 2 concerts! One of which was my favorite so far. Andrew will do the honors on this end.
The first one was the Dufay Collective, the one we both had really been looking forward to. They did not disappoint - it was our favorite so far! The venue was the Merchant Adventurer's Hall - in the 1300s this was home to the Merchant Adventurers, one of the most powerful medieval guilds (association of craftsmen of a certain trade) in medieval England. Guess what? They still meet here! Yes, the Merchant Adventurers have been meeting in this hall for 700 years. Now it's really just ceremonial of course.
Anyway, it was a great setting for a really unique concert. The instruments used were what really made it interesting. There was one singer and 5 instrumentalists playing one or a combination of the following: harp, percussion, gittern (like a mandolin), flute, recorder, bagpipes (!!), simfony (like a hurdy gurdy - scroll down here and go to the 3rd video down), and the vielle (similar to a violin or treble viol). Every one of their songs were by that great composer, Anonymous :-) The music they played is so old that they don't have much if any info about who wrote them and how exactly they were supposed to be played. Their playing involves a lot of improvisation and guesswork at how they music should be structured. One of my favorites, though, was a medieval bagpipe duet. Luckily, medieval pipes are about half as loud as the normal bagpipes you hear, so our ears are still intact. We wished SO much that we could have videoed this one for you, but here's something so you can hear the sounds:
After that, we heard the Orlando Consort, a male quartet who specialize in 10th - 15th century vocal music. They also performed several pieces that are so old that nobody knows who wrote them. They blended beautifully and their bio is impressive!
|Dufay Collective- sorry about the bad picture|
Whew! Lots of music tonight! It's midnight, so we're going to bed!
|But before bed, we must eat our biscuits ; )|