Acclaimed landscape architect Alistair Baldwin has been brought in to redesign the extensive public areas around Raby Castle’s landmark new development, The Rising, which will see several historic buildings sympathetically restored to their former glory and be made available to the community and the wider public.

The Richmond based specialist has been retained by Raby Estate owners, Lord and Lady Barnard, to recapture the sociable community feel of Old Raby village, which existed beyond the castle walls. 

The extensive redevelopment of the buildings that will comprise The Rising will be tied together with thoughtfully designed landscaped areas.

The Duchess’ Walk – a corridor of statuesque trees and soft planting that will connect the restored buildings to the new visitor arrival hub The Round House, and lead to the rest of the castle, park, and gardens.

A central terraced garden which will be surrounded by buildings including the new Round House and Vinery restaurant, has views of the spectacular 700-year-old castle beyond and will draw visitors in through a new entrance, bringing a village centre to the scheme.

CGI of The Rising Landscaping

Alistair Baldwin said:

“Our plans focus on providing the local community with beautiful spaces to meet and mingle, and the way we have designed those spaces evokes the sense of a traditional village connecting the various elements of The Rising together, providing sociable spaces where people can come together, shop, dine, meet and enjoy the gardens.

“The scheme will utilise reclaimed materials from around the estate to create a space which is authentic and sympathetic to its surroundings. Raby Castle is a dramatic landscape, and the scheme aims to open up a whole new vista to the castle which hasn’t been seen before. It holds a special place for me as a local lad, so it has been an absolute honour to bring Lord and Lady Barnard’s vision to life with these new designs.”

(L-R) Alistair Baldwin (architect), Lady Barnard and Charlotte Pennell (landscape designer).

Lady Barnard said:

“We have been working together on these plans since 2018 and hours of planning and thought have gone into these designs, so I will take great pride in seeing them come to life. I want to create something beautiful in an area of the castle that has been relatively neglected for decades. 

“This is an incredibly important piece of the development work for Raby and carries with it a great deal of responsibility. This is not only my family’s legacy, but a legacy for the local community as well.” 

World-class Italian garden designer Luciano Giubbilei has also been selected to lead the extensive remodelling of historically important Walled Garden at Raby Castle.

The garden was originally designed to supply the castle with fresh produce but was later developed more formally into a pleasure garden for the family. The plans will redesign and develop the ornamental gardens to provide a magical outdoor space where visitors can move through exquisite planting or attend performances and events. 

Lady Barnard explains:

“The planting and structures have now been agreed and Luciano has travelled across Europe to find the very best plants for the garden. The iconic yew hedges within the current garden will remain, as they are a real talking point and fortunately Luciano loves them.”

To find out more about our ground-breaking Rising Developments at Raby Castle, visit our Development page.
To tie in with Historic Houses’ #medievalmonday theme this week, we caught up with Castle Curator, Julie Biddlecombe-Brown to find out more about the ‘Medieval Fortifications’ at Raby Castle.

In the 13th and 14th centuries, many wealthy families took the decision to fortify their properties. Ongoing conflict with the Scots led many nobles to take additional precautions to defend their families and land. At Raby Castle, an earlier manor was fortified through successive phases of building during the 14th century. The castle belonged to the powerful Nevill family. In 1346 Ralph Nevill had been one of the leaders of English troops at the Battle of Neville’s Cross (just outside of Durham), where a much larger Scottish army was defeated and King David II was captured.  Perhaps this military action led to the decision to increase defences at his family residences? The work at Raby begun by Ralph was continued after his death by his son John, turning it from a Manor into a Castle which included a range of towers, moat, portcullis and crenelations.

Defensively, Raby isn’t an immediately obvious site for a castle – it is not on a peninsula like Durham Castle or a rocky outcrop like Barnard Castle. But there is a natural water supply and it was on a traditional route north to south. This made the location more strategic and worth maintaining as a place of residence.  The fortification work culminated in the granting of a license to crenelate by Bishop Hatfield in 1378. In other parts of the country, such awards were made by the monarch but as part of the palatinate, in County Durham this power rested with the Prince Bishops.

Visitors to Raby Castle today can still marvel at the remarkably intact 14th century fortifications. Whether viewed from afar, or up close on the castle terrace, the remarkable skills of the medieval craftsmen who built the castle are clear to see. Raby has an ongoing programme of maintenance and repair of these historic structures and current work on the Keep Tower roof will help to preserve these magnificent fortifications for generations to come.

Top Image credit: @Chelseachaseslife

To find out more about our castle towers, visit our previous blog below.

The Nevill Gateway

The Nevill Gateway at Raby Castle

‘Hillocks of Stone; The Towers of Raby Castle’

World-class playground designers have started work on our enchanting new children’s adventure play area inside a mysterious forest at Raby Castle.

The project is part of our wider development, known as The Rising, that promises to attract new visitors to the area and create outstanding recreation for the local community.

The bespoke and inclusive playground features a fully accessible boardwalk through our Christmas Tree Plantation, opening a previously inaccessible part of the grounds, as well as three-storey play towers, high-level walkways, tunnels and climbing walls, along with several ground-level play trails and slides.

Our new attraction also has a purpose-built area for toddlers, with mini turrets and lookout decks – conveniently located next to the new split-level café. 

Construction of the playground has also been carefully managed to cause minimal disruption to the natural surroundings of the Christmas Tree plantation, to preserve habitats and ensure ancient trees are un-damaged during the build. 

The Rising’s project director Claire Jones said,

“This carefully considered, new addition to Raby Castle, has been inspired by the historical architectural elements within the castle such as The Neville Gateway, but also the many stories associated with the estate, particularly the Rising of The North.”

Nestled in a stunning woodland within the grounds of Raby Castle, our new adventure play area will be an exciting mix of challenge, discovery, and intrigue for all its visitors, both the young and the young at heart. 

The design also ensures that visitors can sample the stunning views of the castle and grounds from the turrets and towers, while adventurers of all ages wind their way through the wonderful world of woodland play at Raby.

Work started on the playground at the end of last year and the ground was broken by two young local heroes, eight-year-old Ryan Chidzey from Gainford CE Primary and Preschool and eight-year-old Charlotte Hawke from the Federation of Abbey Schools in Darlington, – who won a competition to attend the ceremony with Lord & Lady Barnard and invited dignitaries. 

The wider scheme at Raby Castle, will include the significant restoration and renovation of several historical buildings on the estate, the creation of a new café and events space as well as a new visitor hub and landscaped areas. Work on the two-year construction programme started with the new 300-space car park to service the new attractions. 

Raby Estate owners, Lord and Lady Barnard, have announced a suite of key consultant hires to bring The Rising to fruition, alongside the creation of over 40 new jobs at Raby Castle itself

Lord Barnard said:


“We have now entered the construction phase of this ambitious project, which will deliver wonderful spaces for families to enjoy and to further establish Raby Castle as a must-see visitor destination. This new playground will provide a truly magical space for children and families to enjoy.

“We have spent the last four years planning the development, which promises to put Raby Castle on the map for visitors to the area, as well as providing a beautiful place for the local community to enjoy, all year round.”

The new adventure playground’s build schedule is expected to last a further four months and plans to open at Easter 2022.

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Lord and Lady Barnard

Find out more about The Rising

Find out more about The Breaking Ground event


On the 1st of January 2022, we opened the gates to our beautiful Deer Park, so friends and families could enjoy a leisurely stroll in the fresh air across the grounds – and raise money for our chosen charity of 2022, the Brain Tumour Charity.

We wanted to encourage people to get their walking boots on and to start the new year with a refreshing, socially distanced amble through the wide-open space of the estate’s parkland, which is home to two species of deer; Red Deer, the largest British wild land mammal, and our smaller Fallow Deer.

Volunteers from the Brain Tumour Charity were on hand at the start of the outdoor walk, so all attendees could make a donation towards the organisation and its integral work.

The Stables Café was open on the day too, serving takeaway food and a selection of delicious hot and cold drinks for walkers to enjoy during the event. Any young walkers could burn off any remaining energy at our woodland play area, nestled amongst the castle’s vast woodlands.

Four-legged friends didn’t miss out on the walk as dogs on a lead were also welcome for our New Year’s Day dog walk at 11.30am in the Coach Yard.

Sophie Brown, Events Manager at Raby Castle said:

“We’ve hosted New Year’s Day walks here at Raby before and they have always proved popular as a fantastic way to start the new year.

“Not only can people enjoy the incredible scenery across our park, but they can do so knowing that they are helping a worthwhile cause – it’s a really great incentive and what a positive way to begin 2022.”

We selected the Brain Tumour Charity as our chosen charity for this year after a Teesdale farmer and Raby tenant, Richard Scott, sadly passed away after being diagnosed with a low-grade glioma brain tumour six years ago.

Helen Scott, Richard’s wife commented: “

“To hear that Raby is putting on this fundraising event for an organisation that is so close to our hearts is incredibly moving and we are extremely grateful.

“We hope the walk has a brilliant turnout and the attendees enjoy their time at Raby – their donations will help so many people and families like ours.”

All proceeds of the New Year’s Day walk were given to the world’s leading brain tumour charity and the largest dedicated funder of research into brain tumours globally.

The Brain Tumour Charity’s community fund-raiser for the North East, Helen Rogers added:

“Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of the under 40s and survival rates have not improved significantly over the last 40 years. We are leading the way in changing this by fighting brain tumours on all fronts.

“We receive no government funding and rely 100% on voluntary donations, so it’s only through the thoughtfulness of businesses like Raby Estates, and people’s generous support,  that we can change these shocking statistics in the future and bring hope to the thousands of people who are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year.”

With the help of our wonderful visitors, we managed to raise £2,746.74 for the Brain Tumour Charity. To find out more about this incredible charity please visit their website.

If you would like to come and visit us, our Deer Park is currently open daily 10am – 4pm and, as an added bonus for January and February, we are also opening our Castle Terrace which has incredible views across the park. To find out more and book your admission please visit our What’s On page.

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