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William Harry Vane

The Vanes

After the Nevills' unsuccessful 'Rising of the North' in 1569, ownership was passed into the hands of the Vanes who began a political dynasty which culminated in the beheading of Sir Henry Vane the Younger. The Castle was defended in the Civil War but remained relatively unaltered until three stages of rebuilding occurred in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Vane Coat-of-Arms

The Vanes are descended from Howell ap Vane, or Fane, of Monmouthshire and eventually settled in Kent. In 1356, during the Hundred Years War between the English and the French, Henry Vane, in accordance with the rules of chivalry whereby one knight could surrender only to another, was knighted by the Black Prince at the Battle of Poitiers in order to accept the surrender of the French king who, in submission, offered his golden gauntlet, which has ever since been a charge on the Vane coat-of-arms.

The Purchase of the Castle (1626)

After the failure of the 'Rising of the North' in 1569 the Castle and its lands were forfeited to the Crown until 1626 when Sir Henry Vane the Elder, Member of Parliament and important member of Charles I household, at first his Governor, later his Treasurer, purchased Raby Castle, Barnard Castle and Estate for £18,000. He chose to make Raby his principal home and de-roofed and removed stone from Barnard Castle to repair and maintain Raby.

After the death of the King in 1649, to which he was opposed, he continued to sit in Parliament but because of opposition to Cromwell's policies, ceased to take an active part.

The Beheading of Sir Henry Vane the Younger (1613-1662)

Sir Henry Vane the Younger, son of Henry the Elder, rejected the advantages of his class, becoming a Protestant Dissenter believing in the free will of the people which set him against the government of Charles I who sought an absolutist state. At twenty two, disillusioned he lived with his co-religionists in Massachusetts, one of the newly established American colonies where he was elected governor but once more found himself at odds with the rigid dogma of the Dissenters.

After failing to be re-elected he returned to England where he became prominent in the Civil War against Charles I but, like his father, became increasingly disenchanted with the course of revolution. He opposed the execution of the King in 1649, became persecuted by the Cromwell dictatorship and on restoration of the monarchy was sentenced to death by Charles II on a charge of treason in 1662, being deemed by the King to be "Too dangerous a man to let live". At his public beheading any attempt at a closing speech was deliberately drowned out by trumpets and drums, so he handed a paper to his friends for later publication before laying his head on the block. "He died", recorded Pepys, "as much a martyr and saint as ever man did".

The First Baron Barnard

No alterations were deemed necessary until 1714 when Sir Christopher Vane, raised to the Peerage in 1698 as the 1st Baron Barnard, in a fit of anger, stripped the Castle of its furniture, lead, iron, glass, doors and boards because his son had married against his wishes. The son, Gilbert, took his father to court and he was forced to pay for repair works.

Castle Restorations in the 18th Century

Henry, the third Lord Barnard, was created the Earl of Darlington in 1754 and began a programme of restoration, under the guidance of the architect James Paine and carried out the greatest changes to the interior of the South and West ranges of the castle.

His son, also Henry, 2nd Earl, instigated the second period of renovation at Raby in 1768, engaging John Carr to carry out improvements inside and outside the Castle, and on the Estate. The carriageway through the Entrance Hall, with its Gothic vaulting, was constructed at this time and a round tower built on the South front to replace one burnt down earlier in the century. By the end of the 18th century, not only Raby Castle but also its setting was considerably altered: the moat was drained, the Park landscaped, the High and Low Ponds excavated, the Garden laid out and the Stables and ancillary buildings constructed.

19th Century Restoration

The 3rd Earl, William Henry, created Duke of Cleveland in 1833 for his political services, made no significant changes to the Castle, and it was not until his son Henry succeeded as 2nd Duke that the third period of rebuilding began when he invited William Burn to begin work on the Castle in 1843. Burn continued working at Raby over the next decade, boldly converting the relatively recent south facing round tower into the magnificent Octagon Drawing Room which has recently undergone faithful and extensive restoration, commissioned by the 11th Lord Barnard. Visitors can now enjoy this decadent historic interior at its best.

After the death of the fourth and last Duke of Cleveland in 1891, the 9th Lord Barnard, after his accession in 1891, added touches to further enhance its architectural merit, but since then the Castle has remained little altered.

20th Century

On his death in 1918, the 9th Lord Barnard was succeeded by his second son Christopher William Vane, the eldest son Henry having died on active service in 1917. The 10th Lord Barnard served in the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry during the 1st World War and was awarded the M.C. He later commanded the 6th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.

Lord Barnard, who was an enthusiastic sportsman, also took an active interest in the Boy Scout movement, being County Commissioner. From 1958 to 1964 he was Lord Lieutenant of the County of Durham and custos rotulorum. In 1920, he married Sylvia Mary (who died in 1993), daughter of Herbert Straker, M.F.H. Lord Barnard died in 1964 and was succeeded by his elder son Harry John Neville Vane, 11th Baron Barnard, former Lord Lieutenant of County Durham (1970 - 88). He died in April 2016 and was succeeded by his son Henry Francis Cecil Vane, 12th Baron Barnard, who was born in 1959. He married Kate Robson in 1998 and they have three children, Cicely, Alice and William.

Raby Castle Opening Times

Castle & Gardens

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: Closed
Friday: Closed
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed


Monday: 10am - 4pm
Tuesday: 10am - 4pm
Wednesday: 10am - 4pm
Thursday: 10am - 4pm
Friday: 10am - 4pm
Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm

Teamrooms & Shops

Monday: 10am - 4pm
Tuesday: 10am - 4pm
Wednesday: 10am - 4pm
Thursday: 10am - 4pm
Friday: 10am - 4pm
Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday: 10am - 4pm

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