Barnard Castle - the historic, 'must-see' European market town.
Barnard Castle is a historic market town which takes its name from the castle around which it grew. The castle, an English Heritage property, was named after its 12th Century founder, Bernard de Balliol, and was later developed by Richard III whose boar emblem is carved above a window in the inner ward. The church of St Mary’s benefited from the patronage of the king with much work carried out including the founding of a chantry. The chancel arch bears corbels with the portraits of Richard and Edward IV and there is a carved boar beside the east window of the south transept.
The castle looks down to the tumultuous River Tees below, popular with canoeists, anglers and for riverside walks along the Teesdale Way, Deepdale and Flatts Wood.
A haven for discerning shoppers and treasure seekers, the town’s many antique shops provide a charming shopping experience. Many of the town’s shops are thriving independent retailers. On offer on the high street are many distinctive products some made locally. There are shops selling home décor, second-hand books, designer clothes, jewellery, accessories, vintage and retro items, local crafts, gifts and much more.
The Witham arts centre with an events programme of music, theatre, film and comedy is at the heart of the town’s wide range of cultural events. From events in the many surrounding village halls, to concerts in churches and an annual outdoor Shakespeare production by The Castle Players there’s lots of entertainment to enjoy.
For food lovers, locally produced food can be found in the independent butchers, green grocers, bakers and specialist shops and at the monthly farmers’ market which is held on ‘the cobbles’ in the Market Place. The restaurants, cafés and pubs serve good quality home-made food with local produce at the forefront of their menus.
In the centre of the town stands an octagonal building, the Market Cross known locally as, the ‘Butter Market’, built by Thomas Breaks and given to the town in 1747. Two bullet holes in the weather vane are reputed to be the result of a shooting competition between a volunteer soldier and a local gamekeeper in 1804.
Nearby, The Bowes Museum is an impressive and charming French-style château, built in the late 19th Century by John Bowes, and surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland. The museum houses a collection of European fine and decorative arts and is regarded as one of the most significant museums outside London.
Don’t miss Eggleston Hall Gardens, known as the ‘Secret Garden of the North’ the gardens consist of 4.5 acres of winding paths and walls that lead you along planted borders, complete with a stream and a 16th Century churchyard.
Why not use Barnard Castle as your base to explore Durham’s great outdoors. There are walking and cycling opportunities galore, allowing visitors to experience the beauty of the surrounding countryside, exploring Teesdale and Weardale in the Durham Dales.
Did you know?
One of England’s finest artists, JMW Turner, painted a riverside perspective of Barnard Castle in 1825. And author Charles Dickens visited the town and the Teesdale area in 1838, to research Nicholas Nickleby!
For more local visitor information on Teesdale, take a look at www.exploreteesdale.com.
Please note that not all accommodation on this site is inspected or accredited
- Market Town Map - Barnard Castle | PDF 644 Kb
- Map of Barnard Castle town centre featuring attractions, tourist information and places of interest.