Raby Castle, with its towers and turrets, is set in a 200 acre red and fallow deer park. It has been the home of Lord Barnard’s family for over 350 years—since 1626. The castle was mostly built in the 14th century by the Nevill family. A fortified manor house was located on the site before the 14th century. The Nevill family remained as the owners until 1569, when they participated in the rising of the north. The Crown seized the castle at that time.
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Among the exterior architectural features are a five sided tower, a 14th century gatehouse complete with stone figures, a tower with 10 foot thick walls, a curtain wall, and a gateway with twin towers.
The interiors date from the 18th and 19th centuries, but there are some medieval features still in place. Among the rooms on view are an entrance hall with gothic vaulting, a high gothic chapel, an 1840 octagon drawing room, and the barons’ hall with some original features. A small drawing room with a plaster ceiling and a library date from the 18th and 19th centuries.
Paintings by Reynolds and other masters, furniture, tapestries, and Meissen porcelain are on display. In the kitchen, little changed in 600 years, there is a collection of Victorian copper utensils. A dining room and medieval servants’ hall are also open to view. Carriages and other horse drawn vehicles are on display in the coach house.
18th century walled gardens designed by Thomas Wright, ancient yew hedges, a 200 year old fig tree, ornamental pond, lakes, a conservatory, a rose garden, and other delights await in the garden and grounds. High Force, a waterfall, is on the Raby estate and well worth a visit.
Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham, DL2 3AHG
On the A688, one mile north of Staindrop
Tel. 0833 660202
Web: Raby Castle
Car park; picnic area; shop; tea-room
Waterfall on B6277 Middleton-in-Teesdale/Alston road: 1/3 mile walk (fee charged; also car park fee)
Opening times: Easter weekend, then May, June and Sep: Sun-Wed; July and Aug, daily except Sat; also open on BH weekends; castle: 12.30-5pm; park and gardens, 11am-5.30 pm; please check current times before visiting.
Historic Houses Association member
Photos of deer, walled garden, castle and lake, and coaches courtesy Hampshire Cam