Castle Howard's historic Atlas Fountain undergoes steam clean ahead of summer season

A testament to the workmanship of Victorian engineering, Castle Howard’s Atlas Fountain has proved a draw to visitors for close to 170 years.

Now, following a gentle steam clean with stonework repointing, it is ready once again for the summer season ahead.

Fuelled by a hilltop reservoir which, by the fall of its water head is strong enough to power its jets, the sculpture was first conceived as a centrepiece to the castle’s elaborate formal gardens known as the parterre.

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The work of celebrated landscape gardener William Nesfield, famed sculptor John Thomas and engineer James Easton, with the 7th Earl of Carlisle, it has for decades undergone an annual refresh to ensure it is kept in working order.

The Atlas fountain is 168 years old.

The fountain, which was tested to great excitement for the first time in 1853, was restored to full working order in the 1980s.

While the parterre has since been lost to changing fashions, the Atlas remains as the centrepiece for these gardens which have opened to the public once again, said curator Christopher Ridgway.

And while colder nights have proved some delay, as the fountain could not be filled while there was a risk of frosts, it is now back to its full glory.

“It’s a fantastically special fountain and piece of sculpture, and we need to look after it regularly,” said Mr Ridgway. “This is its annual service.”

The fountain is the centrepiece to the gardens at Castle Howard
The historic fountain was described as "fantastically special" by curator Christopher Ridgway.
The fountain was undergoing a steam clean ahead of the summer season.