The Hon Simon Howard, who ran the Castle Howard estate in North Yorkshire for 30 years, a scion of the Earls of Carlisle, died 27 February, 2022, at the aged of 66. He had been in poor health since suffering a brain injury following a fall in 2020. His home in recent years was at Welham Hall, Malton.
Mr Howard, whose magnificent stately home was the setting for Brideshead Revisited, became custodian of the palatial seat of the Howard's on the death of his father, in 1984.
Simon Howard's wife Rebecca, claimed in an interview with The Telegraph in 2018 that her husband's sister-in-law, former publishing boss Victoria Barnsley, had joined the board of Castle Howard and that soon after, Simon was asked to step down from his roles. The legal team of Simon's elder brother, Nicholas, later allegedly requested that Simon, Rebecca and their children leave Castle Howard, and they subsequently moved to Welham Hall. Rebecca claimed that the brothers remained on speaking terms.
The imposing architecture of Castle Howard was constructed from 1699 for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, and took over one hundred years to complete. Technically a stately home, not a castle, it is decorated in the Baroque style and was designed by John Vanbrugh. Despite no architectural experience, Vanbrugh managed to pull off the impressive feat.
Simon Bartholomew Geoffrey Howard was born 26 January, 1956, third of the four sons of the then Mr George Anthony Geoffrey Howard [ 1920-84], and his wife the Lady Cecilia Blanche Genevieve FitzRoy [1922-74], daughter of the 8th Duke of Grafton [1850-1930], and a direct descendant of King Charles II.
The Howard family are descended from Lord William Howard the youngest son of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. The 1st Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard (1629-1685) was the great grandson of Lord William Howard (1563-1640), the youngest son of Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, whose skill at marrying heiresses eventually led to his execution. ‘Belted Will’ took possession of Henderskelfe in Yorkshire, the site of Castle Howard today, as part of the inheritance of his wife, Elizabeth Dacre. Created Earl of Carlisle in 1661 it was Charles' grandson, Charles Howard the 3rd Earl of Carlisle (1679-1738), who is famed as the creator of Castle Howard. Eight generations of the Howard family have since occupied Castle Howard: each bringing different characteristics to the stewarding of this grand house and estate through centuries of challenges and opportunities. Their lives have been shaped by public service, political activity, artistic endeavour, and strategic marriages, typical of their own particular times.
Simon Howard had elder brothers, Henry [1950-2008], and the Hon Nicholas Paul Geoffrey [born 25 April, 1952], who succeeded his younger brother as custodian of Castle Howard. Nick's first wife was Amanda Nimmo, daughter of the actor Derek Nimmo. Simon's younger brother is the Hon Anthony Michael Geoffrey Howard [born 18 May, 1958].
Simon's father, George Howard, was Chairman of the Governors of the BBC from 1980-1983, and created a life peer in 1983, as Baron Howard of Henderskelfe, his territorial designation coming from the village in which Castle Howard is situated.
Simon Howard married firstly, 5 November, 1983 [divorced 2000], Annette Marie, Countess Compton [ neé Smallwood] [1949-2020], former wife of Spencer Douglas David Compton, then styled Earl Compton [born 2 Apr, 1946], who, in 1978, succeeded his father as 7th Marquess of Northampton, daughter of Charles Anthony Russell Smallwood [1917-87], and his wife the former Mollie Gordon Buchanan Scott. There were no children from the first marriage.
Simon married 2ndly, 9 July, 2001, Rebecca Verassana Sieff [born 27 May, 1967], scion of the Barons Sieff and the Barons Marks of Broughton, and descended from Marks and Spencer founder Michael Marks. She is a daughter of Jonathan Sieff [1933-2020], and his wife the former Angela Pringle [who died 21 Apr, 2008].
The Hon Simon Howard leaves a son, Merlin Jasper Geoffrey Howard, from his second marriage, who was born 4 February, 2002, twin with a sister, Octavia Cecilia Giselle Howard.