Raby Castle

2467 Reviews

Star Travel Rating


Review type

Things to do


Date of travel


Product name

Product country

Product city

Travelled with


Reasons for trip

Raby castle, once the stronghold of the powerful Neville Family, guards the entrance to Weardale. The first views of the castle from the A688 are all that a good castle should be, with its battlemented towers and surrounding deer park with herds of red and fallow deer. It must surely rank as one of England’s best medieval castles.

The estate was owned by King Cnut, who may well have built a manor house here in the early 11thC.

John Neville, father of the mighty Neville dynasty, one of the most powerful families in the north, built a stone castle around 1360 as a statement of his power, wealth and ambition. His son Ralph married the daughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swineford. One of their three children was Cecily, the Rose of Raby. She was betrothed at the age of three to Richard, Duke of York, who was a ward of Ralph. They married when she was fourteen and she was the mother of Edward IV and Richard III. Her granddaughter Elizabeth of York married Henry VII. The castle stayed in their hands until 1569 when Charles Neville was one of the leaders in the ill fated Rising of the North.

The castle and lands were forfeited to the crown before being bought by Sir Henry Vane who was treasurer to Charles I. He made the castle his principal home, taking stone from Barnard Castle to repair and maintain Raby. His son, another Sir Henry, was sentenced to death on a charge of treason by Charles II, although the family were allowed to keep Raby.

Christopher Vane, the first Lord Barnard did not like the choice of his future daughter in law. In a fit of pique, he sold all the furniture and began to strip the castle of its lead and windows to make it uninhabitable for his son and daughter in law. His son took him to court to stop the destruction and Christopher had to pay for repair works. This explains why there is very little medieval furniture in the castle.

The third Lord Barnard began a major programme of restoration in the C18thC, using John Carr of York as his architect. He was responsible for turning the medieval great hall into a carriage way so coaches and horses could drive through the castle from the main gateway to the east front. The moat was drained and parkland landscaped with an ornamental lake.

In the 19thC, the family were created Dukes of Cleveland and there was another period of rebuilding when the magnificent octagonal drawing room was designed by William Burn in 1843. The Vane family still own the castle and estate with the title of Lord Barnard although the title Duke of Cleveland died out on the death of the fourth Duke.

It is a splendid castle with curtain wall with impressive gateway and nine towers around the walls. The later buildings were added on to the curtain wall. It is worth walking round the perimeter to get some impression of its size and impressiveness as a medieval fortress.

My review of Raby Castle is rather long, so I have split it up into three parts.

Part 2 covers disabled access.

Part 3 covers the guided tour.

Silver Travel Advisor

Join the club

Become a member to receive exclusive benefits

Our community is the heart of Silver Travel Advisor, we love nothing more than sharing ideas, inspiration, hints and tips between us.

Come feel the love on a Princess cruise. You’ll enjoy the MedallionClass experience others simply can’t, and it’s exclusively for everyone. Visit incredible destinations and be involved in the best experiences around each one of them.

Experience more with Princess and connect effortlessly with the world around you, spend time away with loved ones, take a moment for yourself, and fall in love with your holiday of a lifetime, every time.

With over 20 years of experience, Wendy Wu Tours has mastered the art of creating exceptional, fully inclusive tours which showcase the very best of each destination.

Each tour is led by a world-class guide, who will highlight the very best of their homeland, and includes authentic cultural experiences so you are not just seeing the sights, but truly immersing yourself in local life.

Say hello to ease at sea. Ambassador’s purpose is simple: they want to inspire every guest to experience authentic cruising, effortlessly and sustainably. Passionate about protecting our oceans and destinations, their ships comply with the highest industry emission standards and there is no single-use plastic on board.

On your voyage, you will receive the warmest of welcomes from the Ambassador community as you sail upon the friendliest ships afloat.

This is a global co-operative co-owned by local partners using real local experts and guides, which supports local communities, environments and wildlife. It offers travellers quirky places to stay, activity holidays and learning experiences. Not In The Guidebooks gets travellers off the beaten track into local culture with day experiences and longer, immersive adventures.

From wild wellness breaks in Wales to painting in Portugal, sustainable adventures in Mauritius to food safaris in Brazil, this is immersive, exciting travel.

Seabourn’s five intimate ships carry guests to the heart of great cities, exclusive yacht harbours and secluded coves around the world, while two new purpose-built expedition ships will combine exhilarating adventures in remote destinations with the sophisticated amenities of the world’s finest resorts at sea.

From the luxury of all suite accommodations to complimentary fine wines and spirits, and a no tipping policy, Seabourn exemplifies the definition of travelling well.