Raby Castle Gardens
OS grid reference:- NZ 129 217
Imposing Raby Castle in Teesdale dates back to the fourteenth century when it was owned by the mighty Neville family, and has been home to Lord Barnard's family since 1626.
The castle is surrounded by 200 acres of lush green parkland, where herds of Red Deer, the largest British wild land mammal and the smaller Fallow Deer roam wild.
There are 5 acres of traditional eighteenth century ornamental Walled Gardens including Yew Hedges, trees, plants and ornaments dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is also a carriage collection, housed in the eighteenth century stables, an adventure playground, shop and tearoom.
In the medieval era, there would have been a small garden at Raby to provide the herbs and plants needed for medicines. In the mid eighteenth century a formal garden, designed by Thomas Wright, was established at Raby Castle.
The walls of locally hand-made bricks were constructed with flues which, when heated, enabled sub-tropical fruits such as apricots to be grown on the South Terrace. Of these, only the White Ischia Fig, brought to the castle in 1786 by William Harry, Lord Barnard, later 3rd Earl of Darlington, still survives in its specially built house.
The Gardens have been considerably altered during the past century, particularly since 1980, but many of the original features remain. In particular, there are the two fine old yew hedges, and the ornamental pond, originally constructed to provide water for the Kitchen Garden.
Also within this area is the new conservatory whose front replicates the nineteenth century original, beautiful rose gardens; formal lawns; and the informal heather and conifer garden.
The East Garden contains the main herbaceous border, designed by the Dowager Lady Barnard, with species of trees within the lawn, such as the Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipafera) and the Wedding Day Rose (Rosa syn Wedding Day) whose petals transform through three colour changes.
The West Garden displays shrub borders, garden nurseries and the remaining Kitchen Garden. Also in this part of the Garden is the Gothic cottage orné designed by James Paine. In the centre of the South Terrace is a fine wrought iron gate, bearing the monogram of Christopher, the 1st Lord Barnard. Designed by James Gibb it was constructed originally in the early eighteenth century for Shipbourne Church, near the family seat of Fairlawn in Kent, when the Church underwent repairs in the late nineteenth century.
Images courtesy of Paul Johnson
Raby Castle is located on the A688, 1 mile North of Staindrop just 18 miles from Durham City.