At the southern edge of the Midlands, Stratford-upon-Avon is famous as the birthplace of the national poet. Nearby, Kenilworth has resonance for fans of the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and Warwick boasts one of England’s most impressive medieval castles. Yorkshire, 130 miles to the north, is England’s largest county, with extensive tracts of unspoiled countryside and handsome towns such as Harrogate and Richmond. The Viking city of York is home to the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. Close by are the dramatic 12th-century monastic ruins of Rievaulx Abbey.
Visit the Brontë Home
The wild landscape of North Yorkshire is vividly drawn in the works of the Brontë sisters — Anne, Emily and Charlotte — as are immortal characters such as Heathcliff, Mr. Rochester and Jane Eyre. Thanks to the efforts of The Brontë Society, the Haworth parsonage where the siblings lived and wrote remains much as it was, with a museum that houses the world’s largest collection of Brontë manuscripts. I am always touched by the dining room, where the sisters would habitually walk around the table until late at night, discussing their writing. After Anne and Emily had died, Charlotte continued this practice — she could not sleep until she had honored the tradition.
A Fine Castle
Not far from York, Castle Howard is one of the largest and finest residences in England and has been home to the Howard family for more than 300 years. The stately building is perhaps best known as the home of the doomed Flytes in the celebrated television series “Brideshead Revisited.” I find the many portraits in the castle to be especially fascinating. A special evening tour helps to bring them to life and concludes with cocktails and canapés.