UK Genealogy Archives logo
DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

Barnard Castle, Durham

Historical Description

Barnard-Castle, a market-town, a township, and a parish in Durham. The town stands on the left bank of the river Tees, on the line of railway from Darlington to Lancashire, 16 miles W of Darlington. Its site is the side of an eminence rising abruptly from the bank of the river. Its principal street is spacious, and nearly a mile long, and is intersected by smaller streets. The town is governed by a local board, and is well supplied with water. The environs are remarkably pleasant, and present romantic scenery, especially along the Tees and its tributaries. A narrow bridge of two pointed arches, built in 1596, spans the river. The market-house is an octagonal freestone building, open at the sides. The church is ancient and cruciform, and was restored in 1870. There are four dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a mechanics' institute, several schools, a dispensary, a workhouse, an hospital for aged persons, and some minor charities. The hospital was founded in 1229 by King John Baliol of Scotland. A portion of the endowment is applied to the support of three Bedewomen; the rest of it, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, together with a bequest of Benjamin Flounders of Yarm, forms the endowment of thc North Eastern County School. Remains of an ancient castle, comprising entrance gateway and two towers, stand on the brink of a steep rock, about 80 feet above the Tees, and command a charming prospect. The castle was founded by Barnard Baliol, son of Guy, who accompanied William the Conqueror to England, and grandfather of John Baliol, King of Scotland, and it took its name of Barnard from him, and gave its name of Barnard-Castle to the town. It ruled an extensive domain in Teesdale and Marwood, granted by William Bufus, but was transferred along with that domain by Edward I. to Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. It remained for five generations with the Beauchamps, then went to the Crown; was inhabited and embellished by Richard III., and eventually passed by sale to an ancestor of the Duke of Cleveland. The area which it occupied was about 6? acres, but this is now partly sheep pasture, and partly disposed in orchards. The castle figures in Sir Walter Scott's poem of " Bokcby," and it gives the title of Baron to Lord Barnard. The town has a head post office, a railway station, three banks, and two chief inns, and is a seat of petty sessions and the headquarters of the county militia. Near the town is the Bowes Museum, a very handsome building, erected 1869-75, by Mrs. Bowes (Countess of Moutalbo) of Streatlam at a cost of £100,000. It is French renaissance, with a central dome and two turrets, the two wings projecting in front of the central block. It contains a valuable collection of pictures, curiosities, &c. The North-Eastern County School, opened in 1886, provides the advantages of a public school for boys of the middle classes at a moderate cost. A weekly market is held on Wednesday; a fortnightly one, for cattle, sheep, and horses, on every alternate Wednesday; and fairs on Easter Monday, Whit-Wednesday, and Magdalene Day. Manufactures of carpets, plaids, cloth, and shoe-thread are carried on. John Baliol and Hutchinson, the historian of the county, were natives. Barnard-Castle comprises 801 acres; population, 2045. The parish comprises the townships of Barnard-Castle, Marwood, Streatlam and Stainton, and Westwick. Population of the civil parish, 4725; of the ecclesiastical, 5070. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Durham; gross value, o£700. Patron, Trinity College, Cambridge.

Barnard-Castle Parliamentary Division of Durham was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 59,459. The division includes the following:- Darlington Ward-(Stanhope Division, part of)—Stanhope; Darlington Ward (Wolsingham Division)—Wolsingham; Darlington Ward (Barnard-Castle Division)—Barnard-Castle, Cleatlam, Cockfield, Eggleston, Forest and Frith, Gainford, Headlam, Hilton, Ingleton, Langleydale and Shotton, Langton, Lynesuch and Softley, Marwood, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Morton Tinmouth, Newbiggin, Raby and Keverston, Staindrop, Streatlam and Stainton, Wackerfield, Westwick, Whorlton, Winston and Newsham, Woodland; Darlington Ward (Bishop Auckland Division, part of)—Auckland (St Helen), Auckland (West), Bedburn (North), Bedburn (South), Bolam, Crook and Billy Row, Evenwood and Barony, Hamsterley, Witton-le-Wear.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyCounty Durham 
Civil parishGainford 
Poor Law unionTeesdale 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Barnard Castle from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for County Durham is available to browse.


Online maps of Barnard Castle are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers covering county Durham online:

CountyCounty Durham
RegionNorth East
Postal districtDL12
Post TownBarnard Castle