It became the backdrop for the highly successful Television series Brideshead Revisited, but it seems that the custodians of the famous stately home Castle Howard are now in need of additional finance to pay for its upkeep, to the tune of around £10 million. That is the expected amount that they are hoping to raise when a number of the antiques currently housed therein go up for auction this summer. With a number of masterpieces by celebrated artists such as Bernardo Bellotto, Hans Holbein and Ferdinand Bol all expected to feature among the lots for sale, the auction is sure to generate a great deal of interest within the art world.

Sotheby's are to hold the auction and the expectation is that it will be the exquisite painting of Venice's famous Grand Canal, an 18th century portrayal by Bellotto that will be the star attraction. Bellotto was the pupil and nephew of the celebrated Italian artist Canaletto, and with such a fine pedigree behind him, the work is said to be worth in the region of £3.5 million. Even with such a large amount expected to be raised from that sale alone, other famous works such as a portrait of the larger-than-life British king Henry VIII, which was produced by the studio of Hans Holbein, will also go under the hammer. Another much anticipated lot will be a £3 million-valued work by Bol, a talented prodigy of Rembrandt's.

Castle Howard is located in North Yorkshire, about 15 miles north of York, and has been home for more than 300 years to the Carlisle branch of the Howard family. Although not a 'castle' in the true sense of the word, it is probably more aptly referred to as a country house. So grand is the design and size of the house that it took over 100 years to complete its construction, which began in 1699.

It became familiar to television audiences during the early 80s when it was chosen to represent the fictional "Brideshead", as depicted in the book by the English author Evelyn Waugh, which the series was an adaptation of. The series became one of the most celebrated British television programmes of all time and commonly appears in polls relating to the most memorable dramas that have been made. It featured a first-rate cast list, including Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick, who helped to give the show its authentic feel. Castle Howard gave the production its authentic look.