Raby Castle will be opening its gates for the 2024 season on Friday 1st March with an exciting new addition to its popular tour.

The Housekeeper’s Sitting Room has been given a new lease of life as a reimagined visitor welcome space and will provide visitors with an additional snapshot into the fascinating history of the 14th century castle.

A new introductory video will be projected onto the wall of the Housekeeper’s Sitting Room for visitors to enjoy, detailing how the castle has developed through generations of Nevilles and Vanes; the two families to have owned Raby in its long history.

A delicate family tree mural has also been thoughtfully added to the Housekeeper’s Sitting Room. Created by illustrator Lucy Roscoe, it shows two intertwining trees representing the Neville and Vane lines and highlights the individuals who owned the castle. Acorns and leaves represent the wives and children, and the motifs within the tree have been inspired by the archives and collections.

The room was formerly used as the daily office space of Raby’s Housekeeper, the highest-ranking female servant in the household and has been thoughtfully restored by Raby’s in-house team with specialist guidance from historic paint specialist Charles Hesp.

Julie Biddlecombe-Brown, curator at Raby Castle, said: “Part of our inspiration for the Housekeeper’s Sitting Room was Raby’s Housekeeper from the early 20th century, Mrs. Millard, who we first encountered from details of her wages in the archives.

“One of her many responsibilities was to show important guests around while the family were away, and our new interpretation space will similarly introduce visitors to the history of the castle. The voiceover is a gentle reference to the story of Raby that would be told by the housekeeper to guests.”

Items which reflect the role of a housekeeper have also been added to the room. The display represents their working life and the items they needed to conduct their daily duties – from an administrative role, which involved keeping accounts and employing, managing and paying workers, to their responsibility for the valuable contents of the house such as linen and china.

Keys and personal effects, including a photograph of Mrs. Millard herself, will be on show alongside cookery and household management books which were donated to the castle by former curator, Mrs Elizabeth Steele.

China, which has been historically stored in the Housekeeper’s Sitting Room’s large china cupboards, represents some of the different sets Raby has in its collection and is a nod to the Housekeeper’s responsibility to keep all crockery and glass safe, clean and organised, ready to be used by the family.

Raby Castle has also made a further change to its tour for 2024. For mobility impaired visitors who are not able to access the full tour, a new touch screen in the Entrance Hall will allow them to digitally explore the rooms and read information inspired by the room notes used by the volunteers.

These exciting new additions are arriving during a momentous year for Raby Castle. This spring will see the opening of its new visitor experience, The Rising, which includes the remodelled Walled Garden. Historic and iconic buildings previously hidden from view have been renovated and repurposed to create elegant retail space and magnificent event and exhibition spaces, alongside a stylish new restaurant and visitor information hub, all intertwined with beautifully landscaped meandering walkways.

With so many exciting adventures to be had at Raby Castle this season, a membership is the best way to enjoy access to everything and anything Raby Castle has to offer*. The Raby Estate membership begins from £15 per year for children from 4 to 12-years-old, with family passes starting at £80 (two adults and three children), with benefits including admission to Raby Castle, the Deer Park and High Force Waterfall and 10% off at the shop, café and High Force Hotel. A Plotters’ Forest adventure playground extension is available.

More information and opening times can be found on the website www.raby.co.uk/raby-castle/

*The membership excludes special events.

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