Queen Victoria's visit to Castle Howard


Young Queen Victoria

Portrait of the young Queen Victoria painted three years prior Her Majesty's visit to Castle Howard.
Source: Osborne House, Isle of Wight

One of the most memorable days in the history of Castle Howard Station occurred on August 27th, 1850, when Her Majesty Queen Victoria and Prince Albert stopped off at Castle Howard on their way to open the new Central Station in Newcastle and the Royal Border bridge at Berwick. Along with the Queen and Price Albert were the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, Prince Alfred and Princess Alice, along with their staff.

They had left Osborne House on the Isle of Wight, early that morning and arrived at Euston Station around midday amidst crowds of well-wishers and loyal subjects who had gathered to see the Royal party. They were shown into a specially-prepared waiting room where they waited a few minutes while their packages were being stowed away in the luggage van.

Once everything was ready, the Royal Train pulled away to great cheers from the crowds which had gathered along the track, not just in the station, but for miles, until it was on the outskirts of London.

The train stopped at Wolverton for the Royal party to take lunch, and all along the track there were crowds at every station to greet the passing train. A few brief stops were made along the way to greet the crowds, meet officials of the railway, and of course to take on water.

At Normanton, the train left the Midland line and transferred to the York and North Midland, and between Rugby and Normanton the track was lined with plate-layers, each carrying a flag, who assured that the train’s forward path was unhindered.

Despite the unfavourable weather, wet and cold, crowds of people came from miles around to witness the Queen’s arrival. Most were from the surrounding area, some came on trains from Scarborough, and there was even a lady who had come all the way from Bath to get a good view of the Royal Family. The Royal Train arrived at Castle Howard Station at precisely six o’clock and were greeted by Lord Carlisle, a guard of honour with band, and a cheering crowd.

The Royal Party greeted their onlookers and passed under a decorated awning, a dry passage to their waiting carriages for the hilly three-mile drive up to Castle Howard. The Royal Party attended a dinner that evening with Lord Carlisle’s family and some of the local dignitaries.

The next day was spent in and around Castle Howard, very informally, and the crowds flocked around very respectfully to get a glimpse of their Queen. The Royal couple seemed to have a very enjoyable, relaxing day, although the police became concerned that the enthusiastic crowd could become a problem at times.

The Royal Party stayed another night at Castle Howard, and left at around 10 o’clock the next day to go back to the station to rejoin the Royal Train. Her Majesty travelled on to open the new Central Station in Newcastle and the Royal Border bridge at Berwick and travelled on to Edinburgh where they arrived at around five o’clock.

The trip was very big news at the time, and drew the public’s attention not just locally, but nationally. In fact a poet of the time, A.G. Tyson, wrote an epic of 231 verses covering all aspects of the occasion, particularly the journey by train.

An extract from the poem

Vulcan’ thou lord of forging skill
Now warrant well thine arts,
And bid the rails, and bolts and springs
Act well their destin’d parts.

The gorgeous engine strong and free
Puffs out and fumes amain,
So loathe to stand and scare that she
Her swelling steam restrain.

Then steadily along the curves
The locomotive starts
And quickly soon along
the line
She like the lightening darts.


The Royal Visit to Castle Howard by Steve Ashenden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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