BARNARD-CASTLE, a market-town and chapelry, in the parish of Gainford, union of Teesdale, S. W. division of Darlington ward, S. division of the county of Durham, 25 miles (S. W. by W.) from Durham, and 244 (N. N. W.) from London; containing 4452 inhabitants. This place is supposed to have originated soon after the Conquest, from the decay of a more ancient town called Marwood. About the year 1093, the crown having bestowed extensive possessions in the vicinity upon Guido Balliol, a Norman nobleman, who had accompanied the Conqueror to England, and was ancestor of the kings of Scotland, his eldest son Bernard, about 1178, built a castle here, and, by a grant of privileges, encouraged the erection of houses near it, thus laying the foundation of the present town, to which he imparted his own name. It was formerly a member of the ancient wapentake of Sadberge, and for a certain period was exempt from the jurisdiction of the palatinate; the illustrious family of Balliol, who held it for five successions, exercising jura regalia within the franchise. Bernard Balliol, son of the founder, having espoused the cause of Galfrid, elect Bishop of Durham, the usurper Comyn despatched hither a party of soldiers, who committed great devastation.
Being forfeited to the crown, the barony, with its members, was granted to Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and continued in the possession of his descendants until 1398. It was then given by Richard II. to Scroope, Earl of Wiltshire, but was restored in the following year to Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and subsequently passed by marriage with Anna, daughter and coheiress of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III., who, before ascending the throne, resided here, and whose badge (the boar) may still be seen on the walls of the castle. In 1477, he obtained a license to found a college in the castle, for a dean and twelve secular priests, ten clerks, and six choristers; but it does not appear that the design was carried into effect. During the rebellion of the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, in the reign of Elizabeth, the castle, which was then the property of the crown, was garrisoned by Sir George Bowes, of Streatlam, who defended it against the insurgents, but was obliged to surrender on honourable terms. In the great civil war it was held for the king, and was besieged by Cromwell, to whom, after a severe cannonading, the garrison surrendered. Subsequently to the battle of Newburn, in 1642, part of the Scottish army was quartered here. After frequent grants and reversions, the castle, lands, and appurtenances, were purchased by an ancestor of the Duke of Cleveland, to whom they now belong. The ruins of this important baronial edifice occupy an area of nearly seven acres, on an elevated rock near the margin of the river Tees, and indicate the strength and extent of the original structure: one of the towers was some years since fitted up as a shotmanufactory, and the inner area has been converted into a garden.
The town is situated on an eminence rising abruptly from the southern bank of the Tees, the bridge over which at this place was repaired in 1771, after the injury it had sustained in that year by the memorable flood that swept away most of the bridges on the Tees and Tyne. It has undergone considerable improvement of late years, by the formation of new streets, and the removal of unsightly objects. The houses are built of white freestone, and have a very handsome appearance: the streets are well paved; they were lighted with gas in 1834, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water from springs in the neighbourhood. The environs are remarkably pleasant, and the Vale of Tees abounds with romantic scenery. There are two book societies, one in conjunction with Staindrop; also a mechanics' institution founded in 1832, under the auspices of H. T. M. Witham, Esq., of Lartington Hall. On the banks of the river are the extensive flax, tow, and spinning mills of Messrs. Ullathorne and Longstaff, established in 1798, and whose manufacture of shoe-makers' thread gives employment to between 400 and 500 hands: there are also four carpet manufactories, employing a large number of persons; and two iron-foundries. The market is on Wednesday: there is a cattle-market every fortnight; and fairs are held on the Wednesday in Easter and Whitsun weeks. A fair on St. Mary Magdalene's day has nearly fallen into disuse. The magistrates hold a petty-session once in every month; and a baronial court for the recovery of debts under 40s. is held quarterly: the powers of the county debt-court of Barnard-Castle extend over the registration-district of Teesdale. The town-hall, situated in the market-place, is an octagonal structure, erected in 1747, by Thomas Breaks, a native of the place; the upper part is used for the transaction of business, and the lower for the market.
The township comprises 3860a. 32p., exclusively of waste, water, and the site of the town: the land is generally good, and is divided in equal portions of arable, and meadow and pasture; the moorlands abound in game. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Vicar of Gainford, with a net income of £224; impropriator, as lessee under Trinity College, Cambridge, John Bowes, Esq.: the great tithes have been commuted for £211. 8. 10., and those of the vicar for £292. 14. 10. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient and spacious cruciform structure, in the decorated and later English styles, with a square embattled tower at the south-west angle: the bells were recast about twenty-five years since, by subscription. There are places of worship for Independents, Primitive Methodists, and Wesleyans. An hospital, for the residence and maintenance of three aged widows, was founded by John Balliol, about the 14th of Henry III., and dedicated to St. John the Baptist; the income is nearly £200 per annum. About two miles north-west of the town is a chalybeate spring, which is approached by walks through highly varied scenery of the most pleasing description. A Roman coin of the Emperor Trajan was dug up in the churchyard, in the year 1824. Sir John Hullock, one of the late barons of the exchequer; William Hutchinson, Esq., author of the History and Antiquities of the County of Durham, and who resided at the Grove, and died in the year 1814; and George Edwards, Esq., M.D., a political writer of distinction, were natives of the chapelry. It gives the titles of Viscount and Baron Barnard to the Duke of Cleveland.