Charles Kenneth Howard-Bury was born in London to Captain Kenneth Howard-Bury and his wife Lady Emily Alfreda Julia Bury, youngest daughter of Charles William Bury, 3rd earl of Charleville. He was educated privately at Charleville Castle, at Eton College and at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. He joined the 60th Rifles in 1904 and was posted to India, where he began his life-long love of exploration and mountaineering. He climbed the Tien Shen mountains in Tibet in 1912 and kept a travel diary. A book 'The Mountains of Heaven' from this diary was published in 1990.
In 1912 he inherited Belvedere House, Mullingar, County Westmeath, from his cousin Charles Brinsley Marlay. From this time, Charleville Castle ceased to be used by the family.
He resumed active service during the First World War, commanding the 7th and 9th battalions of the King's Royal Rifles. He served at Arras, the Somme, Passchendale and Ypres where he was captured and remained a prisoner of war at Furstenburg until 1919. Following the war, he returned to mountaineering and led the first expedition to Everest which surveyed the route to the summit for future climbers.
Following the successful expedition to Everest, Howard-Bury was a well-known figure and entered politics. He was MP for Bilston (South Wolverhampton) in 1922 and MP for CHelmsford between 1926 and 1931, when he retired after inheriting Charleville Estate on the death of his mother. During the Second World War, he was appointed an assistant commissioner for the British Red Cross. During this time he met Rex Beaumont, an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company and at that time in the RAF during the war. They became close friends and together renovated Belvedere House where they lived for the rest of their lives. In 1948, Howard-Bury auctioned most of the contents of Charleville Castle including furniture and paintings.
Howard-Bury died in 1963. He bequeathed Charleville etsate to his cousin, Major William Bacon Hutton Bury, the grandson of the 4th earl of Charleville's elder sister, Lady Katherine Beaujolois Bury and hr husband Edmund Bacon Hutton. He bequeathed Belvedere to Rex Beaumont.