Castle Howard: Dressed Stone

Castle Howard in North Yorkshire is one of those grand country houses for which our nation is famous. Baroque rather than strictly classical, it belongs to the early part of the eighteenth-century, and boasts a grand rotunda in its middle. The interior rooms are predictably coated in rich scarlet, green and blue wallpapers, with gilded couches and mahogany dining tables. All eighteenth-century interiors look the same to me; I could have been at Chatsworth or Harewood.

Yet a number of the lower rooms were bereft of furniture and even plaster on the walls, the crude stonework exposed to scrutiny. As one who prefers architecture to interior design, this was not disappointing, but those walls proved a striking contrast to the smartly dressed external walls which could be seen through the large windows. One expects a mansion’s interior to be consistently grander than even its exterior. Not here. These might be the damaged walls of the house’s ‘great fire’ of 1940, or of some recent and incomplete restoration project; the online sources remain tight-lipped.

People may be polite, civil and courteous on the outside, but inwardly, they are filthy and corrupted. The gospel does not just change our manners, but transforms our hearts from within. 

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2  
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness." Matthew 23:27, both NKJV