March 10, 2020

Skelf Island on blooloop

Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Castle Howard Skelf Island CAP.Co

One of our favourite recent projects has been Skelf Island at Castle Howard. Our friends at blooloop recently spoke to Abbigail Ollive, head of Marketing at Castle Howard about the project and working with the CAP.CO team.


To recap first. The story of Castle Howard began in 1699 when the Third Earl of Carlisle wanted to build a family home in Yorkshire. He commissioned two friends: the playwright, Sir John Vanbrugh and the Baroque architect Nicholas Hawksmoor to design his home. Inspiration was taken from St Paul's Cathedral amongst others and was the first private home with a domed roof. It took over 100 years to complete.

After falling into ruin during the war, the home was opened to the public in the 1950's and, despite remaining as a family home to the Howard family, has operated as a visitor attraction ever since. The attraction serves a family market and the play area has always been a strong draw to the local market.

According to Abbigail Ollive, the idea was to stay ahead of the curve. "With other visitor attractions developing their family offer, it's an area where we want to stay as leaders"

When they opened conversations with us at CAP.CO, biodiversity and the interaction with the natural environment formed a central part of the conversation. It was this that inspired the design for Skelf Island, that you can read about in more detail here. (Internal link)

But what lifted this play area WAY above the norm, was the work by Abbigail Olive and her team in creating the 'Skelves'. They involved around 40 local children to create the 'Skelf Council' and build community engagement to put them at the heart of the launch campaign.


At the launch event the 'Skelf Council', wearing their official t-shirts and badges, delivered speeches and encouraged the press to explore properly, by climbing through the tunnels and crossing the jungle bridge with them. It added a real level of authenticity to the launch and depth to the story they helped create.

Abbigail-Ollive-Castle-Howard-690x846You can read the full story of the build here but in the meantime we'll leave you with a lovely quote from Abbigail Ollive. “It happened quite quickly. And CAP.CO were fantastic. They worked through the night at times to meet our launch date, which was before the school holidays. I can’t sing their praises highly enough. They’ve been fab."

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