Sophie came. back to England for a few days with her hubby Mentat, and we had decided to take Mentat to Raby Castle as it’s just about the most spectacular one. We also love the formal walled garden for the amount of butterflies and bees that grace the flowers, and the chance of seeing deer is pretty high too, so lots to see and admire. Phil came too.
Well, what the website doesn’t tell you is that the grounds of Raby Castle are undergoing monumental upheaval and they’ve completely dug up the formal garden,
This is a little of what is lost.
“Formally developed into a pleasure garden for the family, the existing ornamental garden will be redesigned to provide an outdoor space where visitors can move through planting or attend performances and events.” Performances and events, no doubt for which you pay extra.
The café we usually go to which was in the old stables is also undergoing renovations.
“The buildings, designed by architect John Carr in the 18th century are Grade 2 listed, will be restored and repurposed to provide retail and interpretation spaces.” Not sure what interpretation spaces are, but I sure know what ‘retail spaces’ means!
There’s also going to be a Play Area :- “A new feature, the play area will offer play for children aged 4-10 years old and will be built within the original Christmas Tree plantation to the north of the Castle, Park and Gardens”.
Now Sophie and I do comprehend that people who own small people have to take them out and about at weekends and school holidays, especially in the nice weather. We just don’t like it when they take them out to places we visit. On the whole the small things are pushy, noisy, ill mannered and immune to any attempts at control by their owners (if indeed the owners bother) so this is not good news.
There’s a lot more to it, the development is called ‘The Rising’ and will take 2 years to complete.
The castle will remain as it is, and the deerpark, but according to Lord Barnard who owns Raby :-
Raby Castle has welcomed visitors since the 18th Century, but felt it was “still very much under the radar, and it has a huge amount to share.”
His motivation for the scheme, he said, “is to really open up the castle and the estate to a great many more people to enjoy.”
“With a new generation it is time for a new beginning, and we want to make sure that Raby is preserved for future generations to enjoy as well as our own.”
Which is all poshspeak for ‘not enough people visit to pay for the upkeep of it all’, so I don’t suppose I can blame him, it must cost a fortune to run. The total investment will be in the region of £14 million and paid for by proceeds from new housing developments in Gainford and Staindrop, consisting of 151 houses :- including 3-bedroomed family, 2-bedroomed cottages, single storey dwellings and apartments. I don’t think they will be ‘affordable housing’ sites!
Anyway, disappointed as we were about the garden, which was shut off, we went inside the castle and had a walk through the deer park, and had lunch in the new Yurt Café.
I didn’t take any pictures inside the Castle, I’ve already done a 7 part post on Raby which starts HERE if you haven’t seen those and want to, which is quite comprehensive. Also when I’m out with non-photographers the dynamic for photography just isn’t the same, but I did take a shot of the Castle and we came across some deer.
Sophie and will go back in 2 or 3 years and see what’s become of it all so stay tooned for that! 🥴
The thing with some places, like Raby Castle, Alnwick Castle, and a few other sites not part of English Heritage or National Trust but run privately, is that you buy a ticket to get in to the place, which isn’t always cheap, but allows you to visit as many times as you like within a year of buying it. Raby Castle is well worth a few visits and though we’d been back in May, we wanted a return trip to do the butterflies in the beautiful gardens there, always a spectacle.
This year was the year of the painted ladies invasion. The butterfly migrates to the UK each summer where its caterpillars feed on thistles. Every ten years or so there is a “painted lady summer” when they arrive en masse and 2019 was it.
But it wasn’t all painted ladies…
and the ladies
and it wasn’t all butterflies..
Raby has a wonderful herd of deer, and we were lucky to get close to these guys again
all pictures can be embiggened with a click full album of pretty picturesHERE
Back in August 2018 Sophie and I went off to visit Raby Castle and had a great time chasing deer around the place. When you buy a ticket to get in there, it lasts for a whole year, so we revisited in May when the spring flowers were popping up. The castle itself is a grand castle, so much to see, so much history, and a deer park in the extensive grounds and I did a 7 part series on it last year. The history of the castle, and the Neville and Vane families who held it, is quite fascinating, and for a potted version, you can read my original post HERE.
On this occasion though, we didn’t go into the castle, but spent the morning photographing flowers and a few other bits and bobs. So no more preamble, on with the show!
I’m not great at remembering flower names
So that’s all this time, though we’ll be back later in summer to do the butterflies.
Stay tooned for next time when we visit the Bowes Museum.
INTERIOR…….PART 1 HERE ~ Entrance Hall, Chapel, Baron’s Hall.
INTERIOR……PART 2 HERE ~ Small drawing room, Octagon Room, Dining Room
INTERIOR…….PART 3 HERE ~ Blue bedroom, Servants bedroom, Kitchen, Servants dining room.
We are finishing our time at Raby with a walk around the estate to see the deer, but first, we went to lunch. The Stables have been converted into a cafe
and Sophie and I had a table in one of the horse’s booths or whatever they’re called. Stalls maybe I think. Anyway, I had a very trendy lunch of avocado and poached egg on wholemeal toast. (I know it’s trendy because I’ve seen it in a magazine where they did a restaurant critique of a place in London). (It also had twiddly greenery bits on top of it which was another clue).
Seriously most places we go have a cafe but all serve similar stuff, homemade soup of the day, panini’s, chips, toasty sandwiches, you know the kind of thing, good, but easy. It was nice to see them make an effort to be a cut above.
After lunch we went and looked at the carriages for a few minutes
but were too excited to go and find the deer to stay very long there.
So off we went on a deer hunt. We started walking through the grounds, and in the distance, we could see the herd ~ we were creeping through the grass so they wouldn’t be disturbed
by chance I looked to our left and spotted these 3 herberts
They wandered off and we concentrated on creeping up to the herd. Of course they spotted us a mile off, we were as quiet as a buffalo on acid, and Sophie was wearing red 😀 😀
We slowly crunched forward through the grass, keeping low, and the deer slowly edged off to our right and to the side of the copse of the trees you can see
we kept moving towards them and the stag of the group must have said ‘Right my bitches, those red and green blobs are getting nearer, let’s scarper! and so they all went around the back of the copse, and then legged it up the hill and away.
Sophie and I were undaunted. The estate is a huge place but fenced all round so the deer had to be there somewhere, and we set off in the direction the deer had gone. As I got to the top of the hill, and turned the corner, I came to a standstill, I’d found one!
They’d stopped as they’d got around the corner, and when Sophie and I got there they had to scarper again!
They ran a fair distance then tried to hide under some trees
So onwards ever onwards, Sophie and I determined to get some good pictures! I hid in an old dead bush to get a bit closer
As we studied the herd it became apparent that there was only one stag, surrounded by a harem of lady deers. (? does as in doh a deer but who knows?)
You can make out his antlers if you embiggen the picture.
it didn’t take long before they all ran off again. We spotted a white calf (I think they’re calves, or maybe fawns, that sounds weird though) which seemed odd as there were no white lady deer and the stag was definitely big and brown.
We decided not to pursue them any further, we’d got some nice shots, and it was a long walk back. But on the way back we did find a few more that didn’t seem to be part of that group, or could be playing truant!
And then the best bit, further on we came across these
and these are the chap-babies who’ve grown into young bucks, and are therefore competition for Mr.Big and so not allowed to be in amongst his harem. But if you look to the right you’ll see a white face there,
who has obviously succumbed to one ladies charms when Mr.Big has been busy elsewhere, hence the white calf/fawn thing. These lads didn’t run away, they let us get quite close which made our day!
so there ends our trip to Raby castle, what a great day out!
A full album (yes there’s loads more! 🙂 of pictures can be found HERE
Information about the castle came from the following sites
INTERIOR…….PART 1 HERE ~ Entrance Hall, Chapel, Baron’s Hall.
INTERIOR……PART 2 HERE ~ Small drawing room, Octagon Room, Dining Room
Today we’ll start in the Blue Bedroom.
Guess why it’s called the blue bedroom :). This bedroom was added as a guest bedroom by John Carr in the 18thC and has a Four poster bed which was the marriage bed of the Duke of Cleveland, It has a handmade bedspread made in Turkey.
Of course servants quarters would not be so swish, but even so, not too bad,
The kitchen in Raby was in use up to 1954, (Not sure where they cook now!) It originally had an open fire in the middle of the room and carcasses of meat would be hung across beams in the ceiling so the smoke would cure it. Three large fireplaces were installed at various points in its history. In the Victorian era, a range with a fan turned spit and side ovens
Another range was added during WW2 when officers were billeted in the castle
and a third which was turned into a sink so that the fire below could heat up the water
Some of the display items seem so funny now, but back in the day this was serious advice!
Again the servants dining area wasn’t too shabby either
That’s the best bits of the Interior finished up, next time we’ll visit the stables where we had lunch, and commence the Deerfest!
INTERIOR…….PART 1 HERE ~ Entrance Hall, Chapel, Baron’s Hall.
The small drawing room, (which is quite large really) is decorated in the Regency style and has lots of paintings of horses and sporting stuff, but also some decorative bits and bobs.
a lovely ornate clock
and an oriental thingy, we see a lot of these in castles and stately homes ~ must have been a thing.
In 1848, the Scottish architect William Burn used castle records to restore and to re-create one of the most striking and instructive interiors of a period that loved rich and colourful effects. The Octagon Drawing Room is a rarest survivor of an 1840’s room with unchanged decoration, displaying lavish textiles: gold silk lines the eight walls, and the curtains and elaborate swags are of crimson and gold silk.
In 1993 the 11th Lord Barnard commissioned a 5-year restoration programme,. Much of the original room’s paintwork, moldings and gilding were cleaned and conserved. Where necessary, new silk panels and curtains, which matched the originals, were woven on the only 19th century handlooms still in commercial use in England.
The pineapple was an exotic and rare fruit back in the day and having them showed off your wealth, so they were incorporated into decorations.
The ceiling was bonkersley ostentatious, but I like that!
The Dining room has red walls and a plaster ceiling. The table extends to fill the room and is laid with a dinner service which had belonged to Queen Victoria and was given to the Raby estate by Edward VII. Sideboards had small warmers to keep food warm a marble-topped buffet was used for cold food.
I think that’s enough for now, there’s still a lot more to see at Raby so stay tooned!
Now we get to the inside of the castle and will start off in the Entrance Hall,
described as “one of the boldest conceptions of its age and the first truly dramatic interior of the Gothic revival” due to its elegant Gothic vaulting. I’m not sure why, but it was decided to construct a carriageway through the castle, presume they were too lazy to ride around the outside. John Carr of York got the job and did it by raising the roof, completing it in 1787 when the 2nd Earl of Darlington’s son returned from his tour of Europe, but the construction did affect other parts of the castle.
One of the parts of the castle that was affected by this new carriageway was the chapel.
So saying, the chapel, originally part of the 14th-century construction, has been messed with on a few occasions. After John Carr raised the floor 2 1/2 meters for the carriageway to happen, in the 1840’s Scottish architect William Burn was employed and he then lowered the chapel floor by a meter. The window at the south of the altar was covered over in the 17th century and re-opened in 1901 when the 9th Lord Barnard was doing his alterations.
At the rear of the chapel is an arcade decorated with 20th-century portraits of people associated with Raby during the Nevill years, Ralph 1st Earl of Westmoreland, his 2nd wife Joan Beaufort, Bishop Hatfield who gave them the crenelation license, Lord John Neville, Cicely ‘The Rose of Raby’, Y’all know who I mean as they all take part in the History bits in parts 1 & 2 which I’m sure you read before starting on this post 🤣.
The likenesses were taken from tomb effigies and stained glass windows.
The Barons’ Hall, where seven hundred knights once gathered to plot the doomed ‘Rising of the North’ in 1569, was also altered by Mr.Burn.
He extended the Hall 17m, over his newly created Octagon Drawing Room, and the original hammer-beam roof was replaced with a more elaborate one. However, the Barons’ Hall still retains part of the Minstrels Gallery and a window from the Nevill period.
There’s also a rather gruesome death mask of Harry George, Duke of Cleveland in the Hall.
Well, that will suffice for now, more to come as it’s a big old place, in fact this might be classed as a serial! Stay tooned for more Victorian and Regency interiors.
After the decline of the Nevill Family (see part 1) the castle became the property of the Crown for more than forty-three years before being bought by Henry Vane the Elder. A Member of Parliament and important member of Charles I household, at first his Governor, later his Treasurer, he purchased Raby Castle, Barnard Castle and Estate for £18,000. He chose to make Raby his principal home and de-roofed and removed stone from Barnard Castle to repair and maintain Raby.
Old Henry had a long career as a politician, and then (as now I think) parliament was a place of backstabbing and jostling for position. While Henry was close to the King for a long time, eventually he was relieved of his titles and ended up on the side of the opposition called Roundheads, Charles 1 supporters being known as Cavaliers. Vane was nominated as lord lieutenant of Durham (10 February 1642). When the civil war broke out, Durham, which was predominantly royalist in feeling, fell straight away under the control of the Royalists, and Vane exercised no real authority there till after its reconquest at the end of 1644. Charles 1st was executed in 1649, and Vane argued against that. He continued to sit in Parliament but because of opposition to Cromwell’s policies, stopped taking an active part. He died at the age of about 66 in or around May 1655.
Henry had a son also called Henry (of course!) the Younger, but luckily for us was called Harry to distinguish him from Old Dad. He rejected his privileged life, believing in the free will of the people rather than the absolute Monarchy of Charles 1st. At twenty-two and a bit fed-up, he went off to live with his co-religionists in Massachusetts, one of the newly established American colonies where he was elected governor. But he really didn’t get on with the rigid dogma of the Dissenters so he didn’t get re-elected and came back to England. He was a leading Parliamentarian during the English Civil War and worked closely with Oliver Cromwell but played no part in the execution of King Charles I and refused to take oaths that expressed approval of the act.
The period between the execution of Charles I on 30 January 1649 and the arrival of his son Charles II in London on 29 May 1660 (which marked the start of the Restoration of the Monarchy) was known as the Interregnum and during this period England was under various forms of republican government.
Vane served on the Council of State that functioned as the government executive during the Interregnum, but split with Cromwell over issues of governance and removed himself from power when Cromwell dissolved Parliament in 1653. He returned to power during the short-lived Commonwealth period in 1659–1660, and was arrested under orders from King Charles II following his restoration to the throne. Vane was denied the amnesty granted to most people for their roles in the Civil War and Interregnum, and although he was formally granted clemency by Charles II, he was charged with high treason by Parliament in 1662. In a court proceeding in which he was denied counsel and the opportunity to properly prepare a defense, he was convicted by a partisan jury. Charles withdrew his earlier clemency, and Vane was beheaded on Tower Hill on 14 June 1662. Fickle buggers our Kings.
After Harry’s death, Christopher Vane, his son, inherited Raby Castle, Durham & the Fairlawne Estate, a 1,000-acre landed-estate which stretches from Shipbourne into neighbouring Plaxtol in Kent. He was raised to the Peerage in 1698 as the 1st Baron Barnard. On 9 May 1676, he married Elizabeth Holles, daughter of Gilbert Holles, 3rd Earl of Clare. They had three children: Henry Vane who died in infancy, Gilbert Vane, 2nd Baron Barnard, married to Mary Randyll, (mother of Anne, who was the mistress of Frederick, Prince of Wales) and William Vane, 1st Viscount Vane married to Lucy Jolliffe.
They were a squabbling lot, with Christophers Missis Elizabeth fighting with Lucy Jolliffe and it ending with Christopher giving Williams inheritance of Fairlawne over to a couple of his pals. William took a lawsuit over the inheritance to the House of Lords, which I presume he won as William and his wife lived at Fairlawn where he died in May 1734.
Later on, Elizabeth quarreled with her other daughter-in-law Mary which forced Christopher and Elizabeth to move back to Fairlawne. They were not happy that Mary’s daughter Anne was a mistress to Prince Freddy, and assumed she took after her ‘scandalous’ mother. In a fit of pique in 1712, Christopher hired John Proud, the steward of Raby Castle, to engage 200 workmen to strip the castle. Owen Stanley Scott described the way that the castle was stripped: “of its lead, glass, doors, and furniture, even pulling up the floors, cutting down the timber, and destroying the deer, and ‘of a sudden in three days’ did damage to the tune of £3000, holding a sale at which the household goods, lead, etc., were sold for what they would fetch”. And again in response, Gilbert sued Christopher for the damages to the castle in the case Vane vs. Lord Barnard 1716 and Dad had to cough up for the repairs. No cure for stupid.
Gilbert’s first son was born in about 1705. Another Henry, he became the second Baron Barnard of Raby Castle, and was Vice Treasurer and Paymaster General of Ireland between 1742 and 1744 and became a Privy Counsellor (Ireland) in 1742. From 1749 to 1755, he was a Lord of the Treasury, Lord Lieutenant of Durham between 1753 and 1758 and Joint Paymaster of the Forces between 1755 and 1756. In 1753, he became 3rd Baron Barnard on the death of his father and was created 1st Earl of Darlington and 1st Viscount Barnard a year later. Earls, Viscounts and Barons, 🙄 I am not going to go into the differences, basically, they are all posh knobs and he was one three times over. Anyway regarding Raby Castle-Henry began a programme of restoration, under the guidance of the architect James Paine and carried out the greatest changes to the interior of the South and West ranges of the castle.
Henry married Lady Grace Fitzroy, daughter of Charles FitzRoy, 2nd Duke of Cleveland, (son of King Charles II by his mistress Barbara Palmer, 1st Duchess of Cleveland). Mistresses were a thing back then! Mind you, they probably still are , *cough* Camilla *cough*. They had seven children, one of whom was Henry (groan) the 2nd Earl of Darlington and he instigated the second period of renovation at Raby in 1768, engaging John Carr to carry out improvements inside and outside the Castle, and on the Estate. The carriageway through the Entrance Hall, with its Gothic vaulting, was constructed at this time causing much damage to its medieval fabric, and a round tower built on the South front to replace one burnt down earlier in the century. By the end of the 18th century, not only Raby Castle but also its setting was considerably altered: the moat was drained, the Park landscaped, the High and Low Ponds excavated, the Garden laid out and the Stables and ancillary buildings constructed.
Of course, yet another Henry was begotten. A politician, as was his father and ancestors, he also took the titles of 3rd Earl of Darlington, Viscount Barnard, with the addition of Marquess of Cleveland and Duke of Cleveland. And to add to that he joined the British Army eventually rising through the ranks as a lieutenant-colonel in the 75th Regiment of Foot in 1824, major-general in 1851, lieutenant-general in 1857 and finally a general in 1863. In 1842, he inherited his father’s titles and was also appointed a Knight of the Garter that year. Henry instigated a period of rebuilding began when he invited William Burn to begin work on the Castle in 1843. Burn continued working at Raby over the next decade, boldly converting the relatively recent south facing round tower into the magnificent Octagon Drawing Room which has recently undergone faithful and extensive restoration, commissioned by the 11th Lord Barnard.
After the death of the fourth and last Duke of Cleveland in 1891, the 9th Lord Barnard, after his accession in 1891, added touches to further enhance its architectural merit, but since then the Castle has remained little altered.
Well now my head is spinning with all the names and titles, so there we will leave the history and get on with some pictures!
After Sophie and I had perused the gardens we walked up to the castle, taking in the views as we went.
The entrance is quite imposing
We walked around the outside before going in and sections of the castle are dated so you know which era they belong to
into the courtyard now
Well done anyone who got through all that history! You are people of great stamina and fortitude. Next time we’ll just do the pictures! 😀