Barnard Castle facts for kids

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Barnard Castle
BarnardCastleMarketplace.jpg
Part of Barnard Castle Market Place showing the "Market Cross" or "Butter Market"
Barnard Castle shown within County Durham
Population 5,495 (2011)
OS grid reference NZ047166
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BARNARD CASTLE
Postcode district DL12
Dialling code 01833
Police Durham
Fire County Durham and Darlington
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament
  • Bishop Auckland
List of places
UK
England
County DurhamCoordinates: 54°33′N 1°55′W / 54.55°N 1.92°W / 54.55; -1.92

Barnard Castle is a market town in Teesdale, County Durham, England. It is named after the castle around which it grew up. 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. 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.

History

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. 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. 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.

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 whichThe Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge appeared.

The castle at Barnard Castle - by Francis Hannaway
The castle at Barnard Castle

William Wordsworth, Daniel Defoe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hilaire Belloc, Bill Bryson and the artist J M W Turner 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.

Geography

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

Transport

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 located 4 miles (6.4 km) from the A66 with access to both the M6 to the west and the A1(M) to the east. The B6278 also connects Barnard Castle with Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Unusually, Barnard Castle was served by two railway stations. 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 & 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 under the Beeching cuts on 5 April 1965 and the site was eventually built on by Glaxo Smith Kline. Today rail access is via Bishop Auckland, 15 miles (25 km) or Darlington, 16 miles (26 km).

Culture

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. 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.

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