OS grid reference:- NZ 129 204
Situated between Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle, Staindrop with its long pretty village green and handsome Georgian houses has been described as "quite simply one of the prettiest villages in County Durham."
The village was first recorded in around 1030, when it was granted to the monks of Durham Cathedral by King Canute. It was first mentioned in 1050 as 'Standropa' which derives from the Anglo-Saxon, 'Saen-throp', which means stoney village.
In 1131 the Manor and lands were granted to Dolfin son of Uchtred, an ancestor of the Neville family. The House of Neville powerful in the north of England for centuries, surprisingly originated from Anglo-Saxon, not Norman stock, and had most probably been part of the pre-conquest aristocracy of Northumbria. Their Norman surname was only assumed in the thirteenth century.
The village has a number of shops including a local newsagent, the Cutting Room and a tea shop. The village pub, the Wheatsheaf Inn, a former coaching inn, has stained glass windows overlooking the village green. Cask Ales are served and a heated beer garden are on offer at this past winner of the Pub in Bloom award.
Just to the north of the village stands Raby Castle, one of England's finest medieval castles, it was built around 1367-1390 by John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville of Raby and is believed to occupy the site of a palace built by King Canute. This Norse connection is reflected in the name Raby, which derives from 'Ra' meaning a boundary and 'Bi', a settlement.
Around 3 miles (5 km) to the north-west of the village is Raby Old Lodge (pictured right), a medieval tower house probably built as a hunting lodge for the Neville family of Raby Castle. It was restored in the nineteenth century and now used as holiday accommodation.
St. Mary's Church
The village church of St. Mary the Virgin, a grade I listed building, is one of the most interesting churches in County Durham. The oldest parts of the building are Anglo-Saxon, dating to the tenth or eleventh century.
The remains of the Saxon windows can be seen above the arches in the nave and the building contains some fragments of Anglo-Saxon carved stones. An Anglo-Saxon sundial is built into the chancel. The rood screen dates to the fourteenth century and is one of the finest in County Durham. The dark wood choir stalls are fifteenth century. In the medieval period the church was attached to a college: a small monastery, of a type known as a college was founded here in 1408, by Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmorland.
The church contains effigies of members of the Neville family. In the South West corner is the large alabaster tomb of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland (pictured above) who died in 1425, the effigy lies between those of his two wives, Margaret Stafford, daughter of Hugh, Earl of Stafford, and Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and half sister of King Henry IV. Cecily Neville, Ralph's daughter by Joan Beaufort married Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York and became the mother of Kings Edward IV and Richard III.
Alongside there is an oak tomb which is that of Henry Neville (above) who died in 1564, and his two wives, Anne, daughter of the Earl of Rutland, and Jane, daughter of Sir Richard Chalmondeley.
The Lady Chapel at the end of the south aisle was added by Ralph Neville and contains two wall tombs. Nearest the east end and set under a arch, is the effigy of Euphemia de Clavering. To the right of her is Isabella Neville , with the effigy of a small unknown child next to here. At the end of the north aisle are the Vane tombs.