A Castle Revisited

I stopped for supper and was reading* the last of this month’s Vanity Fair, in which I discovered this article about Houghton Hall, a grand estate in Norfolk, England.

Built by Britain’s first prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall lost its pre-eminent art collection in 1779, when Walpole’s profligate heirs sold 204 masterpieces to Catherine the Great.

The initial focus of the article is about the art exhibit that will bring many of those art masterpieces back to Houghton Hall for a visit, but it also includes some fantastic photos, which put me in mind of a home I visited last fall in Ireland—Castletown House.

What the homes have in common is they were built in the Palladian style, and I was struck by how similar (and yet so different) the rooms and vistas were. For example, photo #5 of Houghton Hall shows the central entry hall that strongly reminded me of the same room at Castletown. Photo #8 shows a vista from one of the upstairs rooms that is very similar to Castletown.

Houghton Hall is a private home, but it has about a dozen staterooms that are open to the public from May through September. Of course, with this magnificent art collection brought back together for a brief time, they’ll get lots of visitors this summer! Perhaps you can go? Report back?

Me, I’ll be visiting Castletown again in a few weeks; my niece, who grew up in Dublin, will accompany me. She has never seen it, and I think she should. 🙂 Of course, there’ll be a full report later.

* Yes, I read while I eat. That was a big no-no when I was growing up, and, truly, one of the best things about being a grown-up. I do it in restaurants too.