Raby Castle- A Medieval Wonder (History & Travel Tips)

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Located in the county of Durham, Raby Castle is a medieval marvel. With its perfectly restored condition, and surrounded by lush green gardens with a glistening pond, the castle is one the most distinguished castles of its time. Apart from the historical sites to witness, there are several additional activities that you can enjoy while visiting Raby Castle. If you are planning to visit Raby Castle, here is a detailed guide to how you can make your time worthwhile while visiting this wonder.

Raby Castle is famous for its intriguing artifacts that line the interior of the castle. Most of these arts and crafts are by Old Masters, including Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Jacopo Amigoni. 

Side view of Raby Castle across the lake.
Side view of Raby Castle across the lake. DSCF0204 flickr photo by Darren Wilkinson shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

The Nevills

The history of the castle starts with the Nevills family, who built the foundation of Raby Castle around the 14th century. The castle was accessed via a drawbridge and served as a palace fortress. The massive towers linked by curtain walls allowed the Castle Guard to look out for any potential enemies.

J.M.W. Turner’s interpretation of Raby Castle’s view in the 19th century.
J.M.W. Turner’s interpretation of Raby Castle’s view in the 19th century. J. M. W. Turner, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Nevills retained their residence in the castle till the sixteenth century. The family was forced to evacuate, and  Raby Castle came under the Crown’s ownership after the failure of the Rising of the North. The 6th Earl of Westmorland was the last Nevill to live in Raby Castle until he fled and died in exile in Holland.

The Vanes

After the Nevilles’ exile, Raby Castle stayed under Crown ownership till 1626 when Sir Henry Vane the Elder purchased it. From there began a new period for Raby Castle where it became the fortress for a prominent member of Parliament. Sir Henry Vane the Elder also did some renovation within the castle; the renovation supplies were taken from Barnard Castle, which was de-roofed and pilfered of some stones. Raby Castle remained under the Vanes family for the coming few centuries, with minor repairs to maintain the castle. 

Classic vintage interior of Raby Castle.
Classic vintage interior of Raby Castle. Raby castle flickr photo by epredator shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Current Times

At present, the castle still belongs to the Vane family. It is also considered home to Lord and Lady Barnard. The castle holds an astonishing range of cultural and historical artifacts dating back to the 17th century. The art, textiles, and furniture on display speak of Raby Castle’s glory over the centuries. 

Raby Castle and its surrounding gardens are registered national sites today, which have been preserved several times to maintain the originality of the castle. The bathhouse, icehouse, model farms, temple, and other landscape parks constructed in the vicinity of the castle mirror the eighteenth-century time. From the tree planting to the designed gardens, every detail provides an understanding of how the estate was used in the period when it was constructed.

A closer look of the structure of Raby Castle.
A closer look of the structure of Raby Castle. Our castle day: 2nd, Raby Castle flickr photo by dumbledad shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Interesting Raby Castle Facts

  • Raby Castle got its name from Viking settlements which were established in the region around the 11th century. King Cnut, also known as Canute II the Great, laid the foundation of the “Rabi” state. The word is derived from the Danish language, where “Ra” means “boundary” and “Bi” means “dwelling.” 
  • It took twenty-three years of labor to build the Castle of Raby. The construction effort started in the second half of the fourteenth century, from 1367 till 1390.
  • Raby Castle is famous for its intriguing artifacts that line the interior of the castle. Most of these arts and crafts are by Old Masters, including Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Jacopo Amigoni. 
  • The most interesting artifact in the castle is “the Greek Slave,” made by famous neoclassical artist Hiram Powers.

Visiting Raby Castle – Tips and Tricks

If you are planning to visit a meaningful yet equally glamorous location, then Raby Castle is your place. However, before you plan your visit, there are a few tips and tricks that you must keep in focus to ensure a smooth venture.

The garden with visiting tourists around near Raby Castle.
The garden near Raby Castle.with visiting tourists around. 13:04:2009 13:03:38 flickr photo by Glen Bowman shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

How to get to Raby Castle?

You can visit Raby Castle by car or bus. Bus route 84 from Haughton Road is the ideal bus route to take, which will directly take you to Raby Castle. If you are traveling via car, there is a large free car park (or parking lot) available on site which you can avail.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Ticket prices are different depending upon which landmarks of the castle grounds you wish to visit. The castle ticket allows you to visit the castle as well as the adjacent parks and gardens. The prices are £13 ($18 USD) for adults and £6.50 ($9 USD) for children between 5-15 years old. Kids under five can enter the castle free of cost. The family ticket for five persons costs £36.50 ($50 USD). To visit the park and walled gardens, the ticket is £8 for the adults, £4 for children between 5-15 years of age, and free for children younger than five. You can visit the stables, woodland play area, and stables café free of cost. There is also a special discount for students with valid student IDs and disabled individuals.

The castle is open from Wednesdays to Sundays, between 11 am and 4 pm. The deer park and the walled gardens open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. The stables, cafes, and woodland play area are also open daily from 10 am to 4 pm. The Stables Shop is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. 

A breathtaking panoramic view of Raby Castle.
A breathtaking panoramic view of Raby Castle. Hugh Mortimer / Raby Castle.

At present, the Castle is undergoing a period of development and restoration. The restoration plan involves extending the surrounding gardens and building a wildlife park. Therefore, the walled gardens will be closed during the renovation period, which is believed to last till December 2021. It is important to note that the Raby Castle has limited accessibility, considering the historic nature of the building. Similarly, there is limited access for individuals in wheelchairs.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

The whole tour can take up to three to four hours, including the castle and adjacent gardens.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • Make sure to take advantage of the guided tours offered. It is the best way to learn the history of the place. 
  • There are also organized group walks that you can take to appreciate some of the breathtaking views that Raby Castle offers. 
  • Apart from the castle itself, there is so much more that you can visit and enjoy: from the horse-drawn carriage collection to the Deer Park and walled garden.

Discover more amazing castles in England, we’ve compiled a list for you!

Quick Video Tour of The Main Raby Castle Areas

Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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