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Castle Howard, South Parterre


The South Parterre is made up of grass terraces and yew hedges. The centre of the parterre is dominated by the Atlas Fountain, the only remaining feature of William Andrews Nesfield's original installation in the 1850s.


Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details or telephone 01653 648621/620


Castle Howard is located 15 miles north east of York, just off the A64 in the direction of Malton. If travelling from the north turn off the A1 onto the A61 to Thirsk and then take the A170 to Helmsley. Turn onto the B1257 just before Helmsley and follow the brown signs. From the south turn off the A1M at junction 45 onto the A64 and follow east to York. Once past York follow the brown signs. Castle Howard can also be reached by public transport by going to Malton which is 5 miles away.


Hon. Nicholas and Simon Howard


The 3rd Earl of Carlisle declined initial proposals for a series of formal compartments and instead turned to Sir John Vanbrugh to provide designs for the area immediately in front of the house (Saumarez-Smith, 1997: 137).

The original parterre was laid out with plain grass and featured obelisks, urns, statues and a 50-foot column. The exact design and positioning of these ornamental elements proved continually problematic and work was not completed until around 1725 (Saumarez-Smith, 1997: 137-138).

During the 1850s work began on redesigning this area of the gardens as many of the ornamental features had been removed. William Andrews Nesfield was hired and he came up with a design of box, gravel and plants arranged in an elaborate geometrical pattern. At the centre he installed the Atlas Fountain which was turned on for the first time in October 1853.

The improvements were commissioned by the 7th Earl and proved to be very costly. Nesfield's original estimates of £2,000 had risen to £10,000 by the time accounts were settled in 1855, although this included other work on the site (Conran, 1997: 66).

By the 1890s the parterre had become too costly to maintain so the 9th Countess resdesigned the area for a third time. It was replaced with the current design of clipped yew hedges and grass terraces. The Atlas Fountain remained as the centrepiece.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Ornamental Fountain
  • Description: The Atlas Fountain was carved from Portland stone by John Thomas and forms the centrepiece of the parterre. Atlas is the central figure in the main pool and is surrounded by four mermen which spout water from conch shells towards Atlas.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information









Open to the public


Civil Parish





  • Sarah Collins