A sight for sore eyes

Events during the Covid pandemic having brought a certain historic market town in county Durham to our attention, we decided we had to pay a visit to Barnard Castle.  As a medievalist, Helen was keen to visit the castle itself, with its links to the Balliol, Beauchamp and Neville families, as well as King Richard III. We duly booked our timed tickets as soon as we learned that English Heritage was re-opening the site, continuing Covid precautions meaning that planning and booking ahead was important.

So it was a bit annoying to realise, as we neared Barnard Castle, that Raby (the ancestral home of the Neville family) was so close.  After conferring in Richard III’s private apartments, we decided to check whether there was any chance of a visit that afternoon. We were in luck. The castle was open until 4.00 p.m.  We had a booking for another of Barnard Castle’s attractions, the Bowes Museum, at 2.00 p.m. Had we realised quite what a treasure house it was, with an internationally significant collection of fine and decorative arts, we would never have been foolish enough to attempt both in one afternoon.  Still, we had time to see highlights including the famous silver swan automaton and some very fine furniture before dashing back to the car. 

The Bowes Museum

We just made it to Raby in time. Unlike Barnard Castle which is a ruin, Raby today is a very grand stately home.  The entrance hall was remodelled so that for carriages could be driven in one side and out the other. Guests would then be shown into the Octagon room, with a stunning golden ceiling. Even the kitchens were impressive with rows of shining copper moulds.

Raby Castle

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