Castle Howard Estate

Castle Howard is a grand 18th century residence set in 1000 acres of dramatic Yorkshire countryside. The estate includes gardens, woods, lakes, farm shops, holiday parks and adventure playgrounds. The estate is open to the public for several months each year, welcoming many thousands of visitors to indoor and outdoor events and exhibitions.

We worked closely with the estate management team through 2004/5, after winning a competitive tender to develop the estate branding for use in wayfinding signs. Our bid was successful due to the quality of work, and our in-depth proposal to work with the estate owners & management to improve visitor routing, signs and maps, and so enhance the visitor experience.

Defining the estate’s wayfinding requirements

Our first step was to talk with visitor guides, gardeners, staff and groundspeople and build a picture of the problems that were being encountered by staff and visitors. During this exercise we discovered the extent to which staff were being distracted by visitors who had lost their way, or were unable to find places they wanted to get to. Many hours of general staff time were being spent giving directions and leading people to their destination.

The seasonal nature of Castle Howard’s public opening also presented a challenge. For several months each year the estate is a private home to the residents and staff, and year-round direction signs were seen as unwanted intrusion during the closed period.

Developing & implementing the solutions

With such a large and diverse environment, the wayfinding project provided information in two phases, each with a slightly different feel.

Phase One covered the stable courtyard, retail outlets and cafés.

Phase Two covered the Grade I listed buildings (designed by Charles Vanburgh & Nicholas Hawksmoor) landscapes, woodland walks and outdoor attractions.

Intensive route-walking and information gathering helped to generate a clear picture of how visitors needed to move around the estate, from first arrival at the car parks and holiday park, through garden walks, tours, event participation or visits to the attractions, and then back to their arrival point.

We designed maps and signs with clear directions and consistent branding. These are used for vehicle directions, car parking and pedestrian & mobility vehicle routes around the estate.

To fit the seasonal opening nature of the estate, signs are specially designed to be taken apart and stored at the end of the season. A sign location map then helps staff relocate the signs correctly each season was also provided.

Ongoing Castle Howard wayfinding consultancy

Castle Howard management and staff have been delighted with the improved flow of visitors to the estate. Visitors now find it easy to get to their destination and the volume of direction requests has decreased greatly to a manageable level.

We continue to work with Castle Howard as attractions and facilities change.

Want to discuss this project?

Get in touch with us – use the contact page or give us a ring on 01223 693 082.

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