New book turns back the clock to life at Castle Howard during the First World War

New book turns back the clock to life at Castle Howard during the First World War

Mike Fargher and John Prest in front of the exhibition piece about John’s father

Dr Chris Ridgway, centre, with Simon and Rebecca Howard

First published in News by

CASTLE Howard is turning the clock back to the days of the First World War and the heroic tales of how the fighting affected the Howard family and their staff.

Painstaking research in the stately home’s extensive archive has led to a new book, Duty Calls: Castle Howard and the Great War.

It aims to give the reader a unique insight into the lives of those who went away to fight as well as their families who were left at home.

The rich tapestry of stories was researched by Castle Howard’s curator Dr Chris Ridgway.

He said: “The Howards of Castle Howard possess the great virtue of never having thrown anything away.

“Consequently the archives are an enormous treasure trove of generations of material relating to the family house and estate.”

Highlights include the story of Private James Prest, who left the family farm in Coneysthorpe when he enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry.

In March 1918, he was captured during a British attack at Morchies in France and as a POW he was put to work in occupied Belgium.

A diary, found by his family after his death, records his life as a prisoner – and the joyful reunion at the family farm when he returned to the estate, where his son John still lives.

Another story concerns farmer Reginald Fargher, who enlisted as a corporal in the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1915 and was posted to France.

Reginald’s grandson, Mike, is a tenant farmer on the Castle Howard estate to this day.

Mr Ridgway says the accounts show everyone was affected by the global conflict, from humble tenants to the heirs of the Howard estate.

An accompanying exhibition ‘Duty Calls: Castle Howard in Time of War’ - featuring some of the artefacts from the book and stories from other conflicts - runs in the house until November.

He added: “This priceless archive, alongside contributions from local families, has made it possible to unlock the lives of people living through the momentous times of war and the book captures the essence of that time.”

The book is on sale in the Castle Howard book shop and House Shop, priced at £10.

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