Castle Howard adds spice to Christmas with enormous gingerbread replica

19 November – 23 December 2016

A huge architectural gingerbread model of Castle Howard is set to take pride of place at the heart of the stately home’s festive celebrations this year, when London-based architectural foodsmiths, Bompas & Parr, recreate Vanbrugh’s original design for the grand estate from gingerbread and icing.

When complete, the enormous confection will be four metres by three metres, and depict not only the famous house, complete with its dome and the parterre garden envisaged by Vanbrugh, but also by many of the architectural features found in the 10,000 acre estate, including the Temple of the Four Winds, Mausoleum and the 7thEarl’s monument.  The windows of the house will be illuminated, and just like at the real Castle Howard, and miniature trees will descend from Ray Wood to create a perfect winter scene.

Bompas & Parr has a global reputation for creating spectacular confections, from a jelly version of the London skyline to a gingerbread version of London’s lost architecture, which featured in the Christmas window of Selfridges in London.  This model of Castle Howard will perhaps be the most detailed and most elaborate house that they have constructed, and we’re delighted that visitors are going to be able to enjoy this amazing creation as part of our Christmas programme,” comments the Hon Nicholas Howard, who commissioned the design.

The model will take approximately two weeks to bake, with elements constructed at Bompas & Parr’s headquarters, before it is transported the 200 miles up to Castle Howard, where the final piece will be assembled, with members of the public invited to come and see the edible artwork from Saturday 19 November until Friday 23 December.

Whilst the Bompas And Parr team will be working on the model, the rest of the Castle Howard team will be working like Santa’s busiest elves to decorate the public areas of the house in a superbly opulent style.  Gardener Adele Hirst has been charged with collecting sufficient foliage from the grounds to bring the gardens into the house, so visitors can expect elaborate swags, wreaths and garlands made from the evergreen shrubs and trees, that provide the grounds with year-round colour, decorated with fruit and berries.

Unusual additions to this year’s displays will be a Christmas tree made entirely out of books, an aromatic display in the Antiques Passage, where herbs and candles will create a multi-sensory experience, and a wrapping room, decorated with bows and gift-wrap to show some of the preparations for Christmas.  A Venetian theme is planned for the Crimson Dining Room, with a table festooned with opulent gold and red, whilst the Octagon Room will have perhaps the most unusual display – an inverted, suspended Christmas tree with golden roots!

Following tradition, perhaps the most ornately decorated tree in the county will be displayed in the Great Hall – a 22ft spruce covered with thousands of lights and baubles – where roaring fires will be lit every day during the run up to Christmas to fill the room with the scent of pine and open fires.

New for 2016 will be Castle Howard’s first ever afternoon tea, created by David Haynes, who has built a fantastic reputation as development chef for Betty’s.  Available on selected dates through the winter season, this indulgent treat is the perfect excuse for a pre-Christmas get-together with friends or a delightful seasonal celebration.

“Castle Howard is well-known for offering one of the best Christmas experiences in the country, so this year, we’ll be opening slightly earlier – Saturday 19 November - so that all the visitors that come for inspiration for their own Christmas designs can enjoy the decorations at a slightly quieter time – allowing them to linger and take more photographs and notes to help create their own displays,” adds marketing manager, Rachel Underwood.  “The family Christmas really kicks off on Saturday 26 November, with the first of our Audience with Father Christmas sessions.  After exploring the gardens and the decorated house, this is the perfect way to start the festivities in incredible style!”

Throughout the season, visitors to Castle Howard will enjoy daily live music from choirs, classical musicians and other musical guests, and younger visitors can enjoy a festive trail woven throughout the decorated house.

Castle Howard is open daily from 19 November to 23 December from 10.00am (last entry to the House 4pm, 5pm at weekends) with admission prices of £18.95 for adults with concessions available.  Under 4s get in free, and family tickets (two adults and up to three children) are available for £47.85.

Visitors are advised to book early for sessions with Father Christmas, and the Christmas Afternoon Teas, as availability is limited and they are expected to book up quickly.

For more information on all of Castle Howard’s Christmas events, or to prebook, please visit


Notes to editors:

About Bompas & Parr

Bompas & Parr leads in experience design, immersive research, architectural installations and contemporary food design.

From 2007, when Bompas & Parr was founded as a craft jellymonger, the studio has rapidly grown from just Sam Bompas and Harry Parr to its current complement of sixteen - a team of creative specialists, designers, architects, cooks, technicians and administrators who work across a wide range of projects. 

The team works to experiment, develop, produce and install projects, artworks, jellies and exhibitions, as well as archiving, communicating and contextualising the work. Additional to the projects realised in-house, Bompas & Parr contracts structural engineers and other specialists, and collaborates with curators, cultural practitioners and scientists.

Bompas & Parr has published five books, the most recent of which the studio republish Memoirs of a Stomach, a lost-and-forgotten 18th century tome brought up to date with visuals from inside the digestive tract of food writer, pop-up chef and Sunday Times columnist Gizzi Erskine.

The studio works with some of the world’s biggest companies (Diageo, Cargill, Mercedes-Benz) and the world’s foremost cultural institutions (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Garage Centre for Contemporary Culture, Moscow). 


Issued by: Jay Commins, Pyper York
Date: 5 October 2016
Telephone: 01904 500 698


About Us

Castle Howard is one of Britain's finest houses & gardens. Castle Howard is a magnificent 18th century residence set within 1,000 acres of breathtaking landscape in the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of North Yorkshire. Visit and enjoy world-renowned collections, stunning architecture and inspiring family stories. Relax amid idyllic gardens, enjoy woodland and lakeside walks, and let off steam on the adventure playground. Castle Howard's changing programme of events and exhibitions offers something for all the family, as well as an excuse to visit time and time again. Many people contribute to the upkeep of Castle Howard and with this comes the challenge of securing it for future generations. Restoration and conservation work to the house and across the 10,000 acre estate, including nearly 200 listed buildings and monuments, is ongoing.