Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle is a market town in Teesdale, County Durham, England. It is named after the castle around which it was built. It is the main settlement in the Teesdale area, and is a popular tourist destination. The Bowes Museum has the best collection of European fine and decorative arts in the North of England, housed in a "magnificent" 19th-century French-style chateau.[2] Its most famous exhibit is the 18th-century Silver Swan automaton, though art includes work by Goya and El Greco.

Barnard Castle sits on the north bank of the River Tees, opposite Startforth and 21 miles (34 km) south-west of the county town of Durham. Nearby towns include Bishop Auckland to the north-east, Darlington to the east and Richmond in North Yorkshire to the south-east.

Barnard Castle's largest single employer is GlaxoSmithKline which has a manufacturing facility on the outskirts of town.[3][4][5]

Barnard Castle

Part of Barnard Castle Market Place showing the "Market Cross" or "Butter Market"
Barnard Castle is located in County Durham
Barnard Castle
Barnard Castle
Location within County Durham
Population5,495 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceNZ047166
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDL12
Dialling code01833
FireCounty Durham and Darlington
AmbulanceNorth East
EU ParliamentNorth East England
UK Parliament


Before the Norman conquest the upper half of Teesdale had been combined into an Anglo-Norse estate which was centred upon the ancient village of Gainford and mortgaged to the Earls of Northumberland. The first Norman Bishop of Durham, Bishop Walcher, was murdered in 1080. This led to the surrounding country being attacked and laid waste by the Norman overlords. Further rebellion in 1095 caused the king William II to break up the Earldom of Northumberland into smaller baronies. The Lordship of Gainford was given to Guy de Balliol. The earthwork fortifications of the castle were re-built in stone by his successor, Bernard de Balliol I during the latter half of the 12th century, giving rise to the town's name.[6] The castle passed down through the Balliol family (of which the Scottish king, John Balliol, was the most important member) and then into the possession of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick. King Richard III inherited it through his wife, Anne Neville, but it fell into ruins in the century after his death.

The remains of the castle are a Grade I listed building, whilst the chapel in the outer ward is Grade II* listed.[7] Both sets of remains are now in the care of English Heritage and open to the public.

Walter Scott frequently visited his friend John Sawrey Morritt at Rokeby Hall and was fond of exploring Teesdale. He begins his epic poem Rokeby (1813) with a man standing on guard on the round tower of the Barnard Castle fortress.[8]

Charles Dickens and his illustrator Hablot Browne (Phiz) stayed at the King's Head in Barnard Castle while researching his novel Nicholas Nickleby in the winter of 1837–38. He is said to have entered William Humphrey's clock-maker's shop, then opposite the hotel, and enquired who had made a certain remarkable clock. William replied that his boy Humphrey had done it. This seems to have prompted Dickens to choose the title "Master Humphrey's Clock" for his new weekly, in which The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge appeared.[9][10][11]

The castle at Barnard Castle - by Francis Hannaway
The ruins of Barnard Castle, which gave the town its name

William Wordsworth,[12] Daniel Defoe,[13] Ralph Waldo Emerson,[14] Hilaire Belloc,[15] Bill Bryson[16] and the artist J M W Turner[17] have also visited the town.

The Bowes Museum, housed in a chateau-like building, was founded by John Bowes and his wife Josephine, and is of national status. It contains an El Greco, paintings by Goya, Canaletto, Boucher, Fragonard and a collection of decorative art. A great attraction is the 18th century silver swan automaton, which periodically preens itself, looks round and appears to catch and swallow a fish.

John Bowes lived at nearby Streatlam Castle (now demolished). His Streatlam stud never had more than ten breeding mares at one time, but produced no fewer than four Derby winners in twenty years. The last of these, "West Australian", was the first racehorse to win the Triple Crown (1853).

Although never a big manufacturing centre, in the 18th century industry centred on hand loom wool weaving, and in the early 19th century the principal industry was spinning and the manufacture of shoe thread.[18]


Barnard Castle Post Office - by Francis Hannaway
Barnard Castle Post Office

Barnard Castle is for all purposes (historic, ceremonial and administrative) located in County Durham.

The county boundary with the North Riding of Yorkshire was adjusted in 1967: that part of the town of Barnard Castle historically in Yorkshire was added to County Durham.[19]

Barnard Castle was the administrative centre of the former Teesdale district of County Durham until its abolition on 1 April 2009. The town is now administered by Durham County Council Unitary Authority, as principal authority and by Barnard Castle Town Council, as a parish. The Town Council elects a ceremonial Town Mayor annually. It is part of the Bishop Auckland parliamentary constituency, which as of 2017 is represented in parliament by Helen Goodman (Labour), though with a small majority over the Conservatives. It is in the North East England region, which serves as a constituency for the European Parliament.[20] Between 1894 and 1967 the town was administratively part of Barnard Castle Urban District.[21]

All four local councilors are Conservative.[22]

The local police force is Durham Constabulary. The town is the base for the Barnard Castle division, which covers 300 square miles (780 km2). This division is within the force's south area.


  • Elevation: 180 m (600 ft)
  • Nearest large towns: Darlington, 16 miles (26 km). Bishop Auckland 14.8 miles


The most important employer in Barnard Castle is Glaxo Smithkline, which have a large pharmaceutical manufacturing plant on the outskirts of the town which employs around 1000 people.[23] GSK has invested £80 million into the plant since 2007.[24]

Barnard Castle is located in a picturesque area of Teesdale and tourism is important to the local economy. Several holiday parks are located nearby including a Camping and Caravanning Club site. The town has a number of antique shops and an antique centre which attracts antique buyers from all around the world. The High Street has many independent shops.

Nearby Startforth has a young offenders' institution.


Barnard Castle has road connections to Bishop Auckland, Spennymoor and central County Durham via the A688 and Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees, and Middlesbrough by the A67. Barnard Castle is also four miles (6.4 km) from the A66, with access to the M6 to the west and the A1(M) to the east. The B6278 also connects Barnard Castle with Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Barnard Castle railway station was closed for passenger trains in 1964. A Bill was approved in 1854 for a line from a junction with the Stockton & Darlington Railway at Darlington to Barnard Castle and opened on 9 July 1856, with intermediate stations at Broomielaw, Winston, Gainford and Piercebridge. The terminus at Darlington only lasted five years. In 1856 the South Durham & Lancashire Railway proposed a line from Bishop Auckland to Tebay via Barnard Castle and Kirkby Stephen but only the western section was built with the Company receiving its Bill in 1857. The line opened on 8 August 1861 from a second terminus at Barnard Castle to a junction with the Lancaster & Carlisle Railway at Tebay with intermediate stations at Lartington, Bowes, Barras, Kirkby Stephen, Ravenstondale & Gaisgill. The two stations at Barnard Castle were some distance apart; the earliest station became a through station and closed to passengers on 1 May 1862, but remained in use as a goods depot. The second station was closed for passenger trains under the Beeching cuts in 1964 and completely on 5 April 1965 and the site was eventually built on by Glaxo Smith Kline.[25] Today rail access is via Bishop Auckland, 15 miles (25 km) or Darlington, 16 miles (26 km).


Barnard Castle School

Bridge at Barnard Castle - by Francis Hannaway
Barnard Castle Bridge

Barnard Castle School, an independent co-educational boarding school, is located on the eastern edge of the town. Its notable former pupils include: ex-England Rugby players Rob Andrew, now Director of Elite Rugby for the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the Underwood brothers, Tony and Rory along with present England player Mathew Tait and his younger brother Alex, member of the Newcastle Falcons and England U20s team.

Students Rory Clegg, and Alex Gray were members of the England Under 18 rugby union squad.[26]

Other former pupils include renegade spy Richard Tomlinson and Professor Sir Edward Mellanby, the co-discoverer of vitamin D.

Teesdale School

Teesdale School is an 11–18 comprehensive school on the outskirts of the town, just off the A688.

Green Lane School

Green Lane school is a primary school for 4–11 year olds, situated on a road of the same name not far from Teesdale School.


The town hosts the Bowes Museum, purpose-built as a public gallery to house the collection of John Bowes. It is regarded as one of the finest museums in the north of England, being in the style of a French chateau, in extensive grounds, and is by far the largest building in the town. It contains paintings by El Greco, Francisco Goya, Canaletto, Jean-Honoré Fragonard and François Boucher, together with a sizable collection of decorative art, ceramics, textiles, tapestries, clocks and costumes, as well as older items from local history.

The annual live music festival, organised by Teesdale Community Resources in conjunction with the Barnard Castle Meet Committee, runs over the Whit weekend alongside the many other 'Meet' activities. It is a three-day event with out-of-town bands playing on the Saturday and local bands & up and coming TCR bands playing on the Sunday and Monday. It is a family friendly event and entrance is totally free.

The Barnard Castle Meet is an annual carnival festival held on the second bank holiday weekend in May, the schools' summer half-term week. The Meet, as it is known locally, has grown from the North East Cyclists' Meet dating back to 1885, and since the early 1900s the town has staged a carnival and grand procession through the town centre on the bank holiday Monday. The weekend is now probably the largest event in the Barnard Castle and Teesdale calendar. There are around twenty separate events that the Meet Committee asserts 'reach every corner of the community'. In recent years, with the R 'n' B festival no longer in the Meet Weekend programme, the Committee has staged its own music event showcasing local and national talent on the Sunday and Monday, with all technical and musical support from Teesdale Community Resources (TCR). The 2010 Meet, the largest for several years, began with the Crowning of the Meet Queen on 29 May.

The Barnard Castle Band, founded in 1860, is a brass band based in the town, well known outside the area as a result of the march Barnard Castle by Goff Richards.[27]

Notable people

  • Anne Fine – children's writer. Twice Whitbread Prize winner.
  • Glenn Hugill – TV presenter and producer
  • Ian Usher – traveller, adventurer, writer and speaker. Sold "entire life" on eBay in 2008

Former residents


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Archived from the original on 14 July 2015. Retrieved 6 July 2015.
  2. ^ Daily Mail (London) 10 January 2009 Saturday 1ST Edition BRIC-A-BRAC BRITAIN; NORMAN MILLER goes on a rummage to find the top ten towns for bargain hunters
  3. ^ "GSK Barnard Castle". Devereux Architects. Archived from the original on 3 May 2014.
  4. ^ "BBC – Domesday Reloaded: A BARNARD CASTLE FACTORY". domesday.
  5. ^ "Teesdale Mercury". Archived from the original on 3 May 2014.
  6. ^ Lilley, Charles (2000). Old Barnard Castle. Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing. p. 3. ISBN 9781840331059.
  7. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 19875". PastScape. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
  8. ^ "History of Barnard Castle, in Teesdale and County Durham – Map and description".
  9. ^ "BBC News – Exhibition explores Charles Dickens' links with County Durham". BBC News.
  10. ^ "The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens".
  11. ^ "Barnard Castle Blue Plaque Trail". Archived from the original on 16 July 2014.
  12. ^ "Places Visited and Letters Written: 1798–1800".
  13. ^ "Vision of Britain – Daniel Defoe – Letter 8, Part 4: Leeds and North Yorkshire".
  14. ^ "XI. English Traits. Aristocracy. Emerson, Ralph Waldo. 1909–14. Essays and English Traits. The Harvard Classics".
  15. ^ Belloc, Hilaire. "On getting respected in inns and hotels".
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Barnard Castle: The Castle and Bridge looking Upstream, Joseph Mallord William Turner – Tate". Tate.
  18. ^ All in due time: the collected essays and broadcast talks of Humphry House By Humphry House p283
  19. ^ Vision of Britain – Yorkshire, North Riding Archived 29 April 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 November 2007.
  20. ^ "Barnard Castle Town Council".
  21. ^ "National Archive record for Barnard Castle Urban District Council". The National Archives. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-22.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Glaxo expansion meeting held". The Advertiser Series.
  25. ^ "Disused Stations – Barnard Castle". Disused Railway Stations. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  26. ^ "England Under 18s record win in Australia" (Press release). England Rugby. 15 August 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2008.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

1903 Barnard Castle by-election

The Barnard Castle by-election, 1903 was a parliamentary by-election held for the British House of Commons constituency of Barnard Castle, in County Durham, on 24 July 1903.

Alex Gray (rugby union)

Alexander "Alex" Gray (born 1 May 1991) is a British American football tight end for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL), and a former rugby union player for England Sevens, Newcastle Falcons, London Irish, and Yorkshire Carnegie.

Barnard Castle (UK Parliament constituency)

Barnard Castle was a county constituency centred on the town of Barnard Castle in County Durham, which returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was created for the 1885 general election and abolished for the 1950 general election.

Barnard Castle (castle)

Barnard Castle (grid reference NZ04911641) is a ruined medieval castle situated in the town of the same name in County Durham.

Barnard Castle School

Barnard Castle School (colloquially Barney School or locally the County School) is a co-educational independent day and boarding school in the market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham, in the North East of England. It is a member of The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC). It was founded in 1883 with funding from a 13th-century endowment of John I de Balliol and the bequest of the local industrialist Benjamin Flounders. The ambition was to create a school of the quality of the ancient public schools at a more reasonable cost, whilst accepting pupils regardless of their faith.

Originally the North Eastern County School, the name was changed in 1924, but is still generally known locally as the "County School". The school is set in its own 50-acre (20 ha) grounds in Teesdale, within the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. An on-site prep school caters for pupils aged 4 to 11, while the senior school caters for pupils aged 11 to 18. The school was previously funded by direct grant. Founded as an all-boys school, it has been fully co-educational since 1993. There are around 660 pupils and some 200 members of staff.

Since the 1980s, the school has been one of Britain's most successful at producing top class rugby union players. During this period it schooled England international players Rob Andrew and Tony and Rory Underwood. The school has also produced Mathew Tait, Lee Dickson and Tim Visser, and appeared in three finals of the inter-school Daily Mail Cup. Former pupils in other fields include Edward Mellanby (the discoverer of Vitamin D); industrialist Percy Mills, The Lord Mills; fashion designer Giles Deacon and poet Craig Raine.

Barnard Castle railway station

Barnard Castle railway station was situated on the South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway between Bishop Auckland and Kirkby Stephen East. The railway station served the town of Barnard Castle.

The first station (at grid reference NZ053169) opened to passenger traffic on 9 July 1856, and was closed to passengers on 1 May 1862 when services were diverted to the second station which had opened in 1861. Freight traffic continued to use the first station until 1965.

The second station closed to passengers on 30 November 1964.


Boldron is a village in the Pennines of England, situated close to Barnard Castle. It was historically located in the North Riding of Yorkshire, but along with the rest of the former Startforth Rural District it was transferred to County Durham for administrative and ceremonial purposes on 1 April 1974, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972.

DL postcode area

The DL postcode area,', is a group of postcode districts around Barnard Castle, Bedale, Bishop Auckland, Catterick Garrison, Crook, Darlington, Ferryhill, Hawes, Leyburn, Newton Aycliffe, Northallerton, Richmond, Shildon and Spennymoor in England.

Durham/Northumberland 2

Durham/Northumberland 2 is an English Rugby Union league at the eighth tier of the domestic competition for teams from North East England. The champions and runner-up and promoted to Durham/Northumberland 1 and the bottom two clubs are relegated to Durham/Northumberland 3. Each season two teams from Durham/Northumberland 2 are picked to take part in the RFU Senior Vase (a national competition for clubs at level 8) - one affiliated with the Durham County RFU, the other with the Northumberland RFU.

Empire Shelter

Empire Shelter was a ship originally laid down as the Castle-class corvette HMS Barnard Castle of the Royal Navy (pennant number K594), but converted to a convoy rescue ship before completion.

Convoy rescue ships accompanied some Atlantic convoys to rescue survivors from ships which had been attacked. Conversion to rescue service involved enlarging galley and food storage areas and providing berthing and sanitary facilities for approximately 150 men. Scrambling nets were rigged along the sides, and boats suitable for open sea work were substituted for normal lifeboats. Rescue ships normally included a small operating room for an embarked naval doctor and sick bay staff.Empire Shelter was launched by George Brown & Co., Greenock on 3 October 1944, and brought into service on 16 April 1945. She was owned by the Ministry of War Transport and operated by Ellerman City Line, and sailed with six convoys.

In August 1954 Empire Shelter sailed from Port Said, Egypt carrying soldiers and equipment of the Second Battalion The Green Howards that had been stationed in the Suez Garrison, Egypt, and took them to Famagusta, Cyprus where they disembarked and moved into 12 Mile Camp, Dhekelia, Cyprus under canvas.Laid up in 1954 at Falmouth, the ship was scrapped in July 1955 at Burght in Belgium.Barnard Castle is a small town in County Durham, England.

Giles Deacon

Giles Deacon (born 1969) is an English fashion designer, Creative Director and Founder of Giles Deacon group, Couture Fashion House. Deacon joined the Paris Couture schedule in 2016. Deacon has been known to challenge the traditional ideas of womenswear and often uses wild prints and pop culture references in his designs.

Deacon was employed by the fashion houses Bottega Veneta and Gucci, before founding his own label, GILES, in 2003. He launched his first collection for GILES at the 2004 London Fashion Week and was named "Best New Designer" at the British Fashion Awards. Deacon's designs have been met with critical acclaim and have sparked a renewed interest in London fashion. Having become one of the fashion industry's most fêted figures, Deacon was named British Fashion Designer of the Year in 2006 and was awarded the French ANDAM Fashion Award's Grand Prix in 2009. The designer was appointed creative director of French fashion house Ungaro in April 2010. Deacon retained the position until September 2011, when he and Ungaro mutually decided to end their collaboration. Deacon launched his first haute couture collection in 2016.


Gilmonby is a village in the Pennines in County Durham, England. it is situated a short distance to the south of Bowes, in the vicinity of Barnard Castle. The population taken at the 2011 Census was less than 100. Information is kept in the Bowes parish details. It is traditionally located in the North Riding of Yorkshire but along with the rest of the former Startforth Rural District it was transferred to County Durham for administrative and ceremonial purposes on 1 April 1974, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972.


Lartington is a village and civil parish about 2 miles (3 km) west of the town of Barnard Castle, in Teesdale, in the Pennines of England. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 135.Lartington is historically in the North Riding of Yorkshire but along with the rest of the former Startforth Rural District it was transferred to County Durham for administrative and ceremonial purposes on 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972.

The parish is notable for Lartington Hall, the seat of a Roman Catholic family who were recusants. Lartington railway station was on the South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway, which is now abandoned. It opened in 1861 and closed in 1962.

List of places in County Durham

Map of villages in County Durham compiled from this list

This is a list of places in County Durham, England.

The area covered is the entire ceremonial county, hence the inclusion of places in unitary authorities no longer administered by Durham County Council, and places that lay within historic county boundaries of County Durham which now form other counties. Towns and cities are highlighted in bold.

South Durham and Lancashire Union Railway

The South Durham & Lancashire Union Railway (SD&LUR) built a railway line linking the Stockton & Darlington Railway near Bishop Auckland with the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (the West Coast Main Line) at Tebay, via Barnard Castle, Stainmore Summit and Kirkby Stephen. The line opened in 1861 and became known as the Stainmore Line.

The Stockton & Darlington absorbed the SD&LUR, and the Stockton & Darlington became a constituent of the North Eastern Railway. The line closed in stages between 1952 and 1962. A short section of the line at Kirkby Stephen East station has been restored by the Stainmore Railway Company.

Teesdale (district)

Teesdale was, from 1974 to 2009, a local government district in County Durham, England. Its council was based in Barnard Castle and it was named after the valley of the River Tees.

That part of the district south of the River Tees is historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, and made up Startforth Rural District before the Local Government Act 1972 came into effect in 1974. The other predecessors to the district were Barnard Castle urban district and Barnard Castle Rural District.

Much of the area had before 1894 constituted a single Teesdale rural sanitary district.

The district was the least-populous ordinary district in England, with only the City of London and the Isles of Scilly being smaller. It had the second-lowest population density in England, after Eden, Cumbria.

The district was abolished as part of the 2009 structural changes to local government in England.

Teesdale School

Teesdale School is a secondary school and sixth form with academy status located in Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England. It offers subjects from GCSE to Advanced Subsidiary Level and Advanced Level.

Tony Underwood

Tony Underwood (born 17 February 1969 in Ipoh, Malaysia) is a former English rugby union footballer who played as a wing three-quarter back. He is of Chinese-English parentage.


The W2W is the name of a cross-country cycle route in Northern England. It runs from Walney Island in Cumbria to Sunderland on the River Wear or Whitby (hence 'W2W', or Walney to Wear [and Whitby]).

Destinations from Barnard Castle
Unitary authorities
Major settlements
County Durham

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