October 2021

A grant from Historic England has been awarded to Raby Estate for important repairs to Raby Castle’s historic 14th century Keep Tower, and the 19th century clock faces and sundial. The Keep is one of Raby’s nine towers, located in the centre of the castle. In the medieval period the base of the Keep incorporated access to the castle’s well, and the tower protected this important source of fresh water. Above ground, each floor provided levels of living accommodation for members of the powerful Nevill family and their retinue.

Over the centuries, the roof of The Keep has benefitted from repair and maintenance. Along with the rest of the castle, it is inspected regularly by Castle architects Donald Insall Associates. This grant allows re-roofing, repairs and conservation work to take place in early 2022, replacing cracked and patched sections of the lead work and keeping the castle and its contents safe from water damage.

The two historic clock dials and the castle sundial are open to the elements on the north and south walls of The Keep. Over time, the faces of these historic timepieces have been damaged by the harsh British weather and will receive full conservation and restoration by historic clock specialists. Repainted and gilding using traditional, hardwearing techniques will breathe new life into the faces of the historic timepieces so that they can continue to display the time in the years to come.

Harry Vane, 12th Lord Barnard is the current owner of the castle, whose family have lived in the spectacular medieval building for almost 400 years. Lord Barnard thanked Historic England and Historic Houses Foundation for awarding this grant to Raby;

“We are delighted to have been awarded funding by Historic England via the Historic Houses Foundation to carry out important repair and conservation work on Raby Castle’s historic Keep Tower. This grant supports the vital programme of ongoing repair and maintenance required to ensure that this outstanding Grade I listed building can be enjoyed by future generations”.

The grant, from Historic England, has been received through the Historic Houses Foundation as part of the second round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund.

It’s apple and pear season at Raby and to celebrate here is another recipe from our Estate Chef, Tom Parry. Inspired by German Coffee Shops, you can enjoy this layered traybake recipe at home, or in our Stables Shop featuring apples grown in our very own Walled Gardens.

Preparation total time: 20min

Cooking time: 45min

Makes: 10 portions


  • 4          10 x 18 in. sheets of filo dough
  • 60g      Butter, melted
  • 30g      Fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 16g      Flaked almonds
  • 5g        Icing sugar for dusting


  • 6          Tart apples, quartered, cored, peeled, and sliced
  • 1          Lemon- Grated zest and juice
  • 40g     Light brown sugar
  • 1g        Ground cinnamon
  • 1g        Ground ginger
  • 120g    Sultana
  • 90g      Chopped Nuts



  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350f/gas 4
  2. Make the filling: Peel and slice the apples thinly and put them in a bowl of cold water with a little lemon juice to stop them going brown. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and keep warm.
  3. Mix the apples, lemon zest and juice, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, sultanas and mixed nuts.
  4. Lay the first sheet of filo pastry on a clean tea towel on your work surface and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle over a third of the apple mixture. Lay another sheet of filo pastry on top, brush with butter and sprinkle again with a third of the pecan mixture. Repeat with the third sheet and top everything with the fourth sheet.
  5. Drain your apples well and toss with the caster sugar and drained cranberries. Spread them out along one edge of the top sheet of filo pastry. Brush the opposite edge with a little water. Starting at the edge with the apple mixture on, gently lift the edge of the tea towel and use it to help you roll the pastry up lengthways like a Swiss roll – the apples will end up at the centre. Once it’s all rolled up, press your strudel together gently.
  6. Brush the strudel with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with the almonds.
  7. Bake for 40–45 minutes until the dough is crisp and golden.
  8. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm or cold.

Download Raby Orchard Apple Strudel

Recipe by Estate Chef Tom Parry

The Raby Estates team, along with their friends and family, are once again undertaking the annual Climb of Life challenge to raise money for the Institute of Cancer Research by participating in a “Human Mountain Endeavour” on the Lakeland fells on Friday 5th November.

One third of us will be touched by cancer in our lifetime. The Institute of Cancer Research is a charitable academic working body with over 300 scientists and has taken more drugs into clinical trials in the last decade than any other organisation worldwide.  We are therefore proud to be supporting such a worthy cause once again this year.

This annual event involves teams from businesses located across the north of England ascending Lakeland’s highest mountains in early winter conditions. The event has raised more than £1.75 million for the Institute and other charities over the past 34 years. With your help we would like to make this another record-breaking year. Each team is allocated a mountain to ascend during the day and Raby has been allocated the Fairfield Horseshoe starting and finishing at Rydal between Grasmere and Ambleside.

If you would like to support our team with their fundraising for Climb of Life, and the motivation to complete this arduous challenge, then please go to their JustGiving page to donate.

Climb of Life

This summer, a very special piece of research has been taking place at Raby Castle. Funded by the British-Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO), the project brought together two research students working on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. Postgraduate students Cara Caputo, studying American Material Culture at Winterthur and Andrea Gonzales, studying Art Gallery and Museum Studies at Leeds University were selected from a number of applicants to the scheme. Although they have never met in person, their outstanding teamwork has created a fascinating blog exploring Raby Castle’s Octagon Drawing Room, in their own words.

Screenshot of Cara and Drea on Zoom, researching into the Octagon Drawing Room

Our thanks to BIFMO for funding this project. For more details of their work visit https://bifmo.history.ac.uk/

“In the current guidebook for Raby Castle, the entry for the Octagon Drawing Room focuses mainly on the story of a major 1990s restoration project. While an important aspect of its history and a fascinating point of interpretation, this blog post focuses on the origins of the Octagon Drawing Room, including the people involved in the creation of the room and purposes for which it was used. In order to highlight the original use of the home, research was conducted to place the room and its furnishings in historical context. Were the choices made in the furnishings typical of the time or unusual? How did Raby’s 19th-residents use and enjoy the space?

Through a project funded by the British-Irish Furniture Makers Online (BIFMO), this blog post uses source material to explore these questions, emphasize new perspectives, and ultimately, to capture the room in a moment at a time, through the words of someone who lived and entertained in this room and among these objects.

Oil painting of the Duchess of Cleveland

In 1854, Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina Stanhope married Sir Harry George Powlett, the 4th Duke of Cleveland. After their marriage, Catherine became the Duchess of Cleveland and mistress of Raby Castle. In 1870, she authored a handbook for Raby Castle that essentially functions as a guided tour of the Castle, Park and Gardens. Throughout the handbook, the Duchess offers her opinion on aspects of the interior spaces and their furnishings, created by previous generations. Excerpts from her section on the Octagon Drawing Room serve as the narration for this blog post.


Directions: Click on the dots in the picture below to explore various aspects of the room and learn more about the original function and use of Raby’s Drawing Room. To make the picture full screen, click on the two arrows in the bottom right-hand corner.

The Duchess’ Handbook offers a glimpse into how those who were most familiar with the Drawing Room viewed and used this space. Among entertaining and formal use, the Drawing Room served one last unique purpose for the Duchess as after her death it was the setting for her formal visitation. On June 1, 1901, the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer reported the funeral of the “Last Duchess of Cleveland,” stating that her remains were “removed from the Octagon Drawing Room at Raby Castle to the Parish Church of Staindrop.”

Newspaper clipping about the Funeral of the late Duchess of Cleveland

Exploring the previous iterations of the room and comparing them to the Drawing Room’s current, now-restored, state reveals the layered and nuanced history of this space. Not only did those who designed and furnished the space play a role in shaping the Drawing Room’s history, but those who lived among it, or merely visited it, have also left an impact and impression on the space. As a room in a private residence often opened to the public, the Octagon Drawing Room remains a dynamic space even today.

Though open to the public, the Lord and Lady Barnard are committed to welcoming visitors as guests to Raby Castle. Their approach encourages visitors to feel as though you could pick up a cushion and park yourself on a couch with a good book and the light of the fireplace to keep you company. Naturally, the furniture is carefully maintained, but the ambiance is very inviting. Through parties and COVID-19, the castle nearly seems to have been untouched by the passage of time. This is glaringly obvious in the Octagon Drawing Room. In fact, it seemed out of date even for the duchess herself! But no one can deny, walking into that room is a breathtaking experience, with everything glittering in the light as the red and gold tones create a warm yet opulent vibe”.

If you’d like to find out more about our Octagon Drawing Room, read our previous blog to find out how our team cares for the ornate collections during the winter months when the Castle is closed to the public. Or delve into the history of our grand Entrance Hall.

The Castle will be closed at the end of October and will re-open in Spring 2021. Book your Castle, Park and Gardens tickets before the 31st October to see our Octagon Drawing Room in person.

Lisa joined the Raby team in September 2021 as our new Retail Manager. Brimming with fresh ideas and enthusiasm, we’re very excited to see her developments and future plans for the Shop unfold. We caught up with Lisa to find out more about her background and why she wanted to join the team at Raby.


Where did your career take you before joining Raby?

Well, I’ll try to be brief as I’ve worked in retail for around 127 years! I lived in London for 15 years and did my training at Liberty, Regent Street, ending up managing their bookshop. I then did a stint at Borders Books before working at Harvey Nichols for a few years. I decided London was just too hot for me, and left after one particularly hot summer and came back north to open my first shop, Oswell’s in Barnard Castle. After a few years away and a job managing a farm shop, I then came back and opened Oswell’s again, which is where I have been for the last nine years.

Lisa, new Retail Manager
What has surprised you about working at Raby?

Just how many departments there are involved in the whole Raby Machine! From farming to forestry, it’s a widespread operation but it feels friendly and down to earth, not stuffy and corporate.


What impact, style and taste have you added to the Stables Shop?

I hope I’ve managed to inject some of my own style into the shop, whilst being mindful of what the Raby customer might want. I would say the style we’ve developed is both classic and contemporary, with an emphasis on British-made products and beautiful design.


What product lines do you look forward to developing?

I’m excited about getting going on developing a range of Raby brand products; I’ve already started my research. I want to get into the Raby archives to see what we can use in terms of designs that would be unique to Raby.

What are you looking forward to most about working at Raby?

Working as part of a team. It can be lonely working for yourself, so to be surrounded by a team of friendly people who are all watching out for you is lovely. And I have to be honest, just the fact that I will be arriving at work at a beautiful castle every day – I mean, it’s a joy!


Which event are you most excited about?

Well, that would have to be the Christmas Shopping Evening on 4th November. Our Christmas season will launch, and the shop will be full of beautiful decorations, Christmas cakes, puddings and gifts galore.

Collage of products from the Stables Shop including books, mugs, pillows and other gifts

Our Stables Shop is currently open Wednesday – Sunday from 11am, but please check our opening times for updated information before your visit.
If you are interested in working or volunteering at Raby, please visit our Vacancies page to see our latest opportunities.

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