In honour of the coronation of King Charles III, County Durham’s iconic Raby Castle will be shining a spotlight on Raby’s royal connections for the first time, as it showcases records from its family archive for the public.
On 27th May, archivist Gabriel Damaszk will showcase original records which highlight the castle’s Royal connections including letters, documents and even one of the Great Seals of Queen Elizabeth I in ‘Spotlight on the Archives: Raby’s Royal Connections’.
From visitors’ books to royal correspondence, the session will give a fascinating insight into Raby’s eventful past, including delving into the Neville and Vane family histories.
Amongst the treasures shared during the session, visitors will cast their eyes on the castle’s collection of majestic royal Great Seals, some the size of a saucer. At the forefront of this fascinating collection is the Great Seal of Queen Elizabeth I, who confiscated Raby Castle from Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland, following his involvement in the failed plot to depose her during the infamous Rising of the North.
The Great Seal, depicting Elizabeth I on horseback, was used by the monarch to approve official documents, with the wax pressed by a specially designed metal matrix, cast during her 45-year reign.
In addition to this icon of the Tudor era, visitors will also witness a beautifully illuminated pedigree scroll, commissioned by William Vane, the 3rd Earl of Darlington, in 1821. With a lineage dating back to the Norman era, the scroll traces his family tree back to Monmouth, the area from which the Vane family originates.
This invaluable genealogy document highlights the complicated family connections and alliances across the centuries and even gives a glimpse into the family’s ambitions and aspirations.
“Raby Castle’s past has been consistently interwoven with the Royal story over its 1,000-year history,” says Lord Barnard. “Our Archive is an absolute treasure trove of original records and documents, that explore the continued connection between the castle and the monarchy.
“We have a very talented team, including an archivist and curator at Raby, and I am delighted that visitors will be able to explore Raby’s history in more detail this May, inspired by the King’s coronation.”
Further events are planned on the Royal theme, including the ‘Raby and Royals Tour’ on 8th May. Guests will be escorted around the castle by a knowledgeable senior guide, who will highlight the Royal connections found in paintings, artefacts and items of memorabilia to tell the castle’s unique stories. The tour will also include access behind the scenes, visiting rooms created for important visitors, such as the State Bedroom, and will be a chance to see items made for Royal guests including the Prince Regent who visited in 1806.
Eagle-eyed visitors will also spot new additions to each room on the public route, such as the Raby State Coach in the grand Entrance Hall. The coach, which dates back to the early 19th century and was used by the family to attend past coronations, will be undergoing live conservation work during the summer months.
The Baron’s Hall will play host to new displays of items from the castle collection, including the coronation robes of a Baron and Baroness, alongside the livery of the Footman who would have attended their carriage at a coronation. Along the route, children will be encouraged to participate in the ‘Raby Royal Children’s Trail’, with lots of clues and pointers, highlighting even the most subtle Royal references in the grand series of rooms.
To conclude the coronation celebrations, on Sunday 14th May, the Entrance Hall will be the magnificent setting for an elegant ‘Royal Afternoon Tea’. Guests will be treated to a tour of the castle by a senior guide, followed by the opportunity to tuck into delicious feast, fit for a King.
Tickets for the ‘Spotlight on the Archives’ and ‘Raby and Royals Tour’ events start from £25. The Raby Royal Children’s Trail is included in the price of admission. A second archive tour will also be taking place on 24th June. Tickets for the ‘Royal Afternoon Tea’ start from £30, including a glass of fizz.
With so many exciting adventures to be had at Raby Castle this season, an annual membership is the best way to enjoy access to everything and anything Raby Castle has to offer*. The Raby Castle membership begins from £12.50 per year for children from 4 to 12-years-old, with family passes starting at £65 (2 adults + 3 children), with benefits including admission to Raby Castle, the Deer Park and High Force Waterfall and 10% off at the Yurt Café and High Force Hotel. A Plotters’ Forest adventure playground extension is available.
The Castle is open for the season from 1st March to 29th October. The Deer Park is open seven days a week, with admission included in a Castle ticket. Tickets for the Plotters’ Forest are sold separately.
More information and opening times can be found on the website www.raby.co.uk/raby-castle/