‘Twas the month before Christmas, when all through the castle, not a creature was stirring… except for our Collections Team, who are spending the off-season conducting important collections work!
Rebecca, our Collections Intern from Durham University, was busy cataloguing items in the nooks and crannies of the Small Drawing Room, when she made this exciting festive discovery.
Nutcracker dolls originate from late 17th century Germany, and were often given as gifts. This Bavarian nutcracker was from the time of the 9th Lord Barnard, and carries the inscription ‘Lord Barnard, 1909.’ The interesting character was found with a broken jaw, which provided the perfect opportunity for Davina, currently undertaking a Conservation Placement from Durham University, to work her magic.
After cleaning off the years of dust, she used historically sympathetic solvents and adhesives to return the cheeky chap to his original form. Our collections team then photographed and catalogued him for future use, before returning him to the safety of his original storage place.
(collections image for cataloguing)
If you’d like to find out more about our Castle collections visit the blog.
This year we are running a special ticket giveaway to our popular Fireside Stories event for 2023!
To enter all you need to do is:
Visit our Stables Shop between 1st – 24th December 2022
Sign up to the competition with your name and Instagram handle
Make sure you are following our @rabycastleofficial Instagram page for your chance to win
Terms and Conditions
The competition will run from Thursday 1st – 24th December 2022. The winner will be chosen at random once the competition closes and will be announced on Instagram in January 2023. The winner will receive a complimentary ticket for 1 child and 2 adults to a date and time of their choice (subject to availability) for Fireside Stories 2023. Please note, you can only enter once.
The winner will receive priority booking before our newsletter subscribers and the general public and will be able to purchase additional tickets if they have other children up to a maximum of 4 extra child tickets. However, they will not be able to purchase tickets on behalf of other friends and family.
The winner will be contacted by the Raby Castle team by email and must notify Raby Castle of their acceptance of the prize within five working days of notification. In the event of non-response or non-acceptance within the specified time period, Raby Castle reserves the right to reallocate the tickets. Please note, the winner will not be able to book their tickets until summer 2023 when event dates and times have been confirmed.
This competition is open to adults aged 18 and over. The tickets are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative. Travel costs are not permitted in the prize and any expenditure incurred by the winner over and above the prize elements detailed, must be settled by the prize winner.
Top 10 Things to do This Christmas at Raby
Christmas is a magical time across the Raby Estate.
Here are our top 10 things to enjoy this festive season:
1.Choose your perfect Raby Christmas tree
From 26th November – 24th December we will be selling our Raby Christmas trees in the park between 10am – 4pm. Come and browse our selection of Nordmann Fir and Norway Spruce to choose the perfect tree for your home. We have a range of sizes available from 4ft to 8.5ft as well as potted trees and our team will be on hand to help.
Did you know that High Force Waterfall is also on the Raby Estate? Just a 30 minute drive from the castle over the scenic Durham Dales is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the country. This season families can enjoy a wintry walk to find our Raby reindeer who are visiting the falls. Keep an eye out for Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen along the way. Have your photo taken with Rudolph at the end or in our woodland Giant’s chair, part of our new summer installation of woodland animals.
High Force Waterfall is open daily from 10am – 4pm.
3.Tick some gifts off your list in the Stables Shop
While you’re collecting your tree don’t forget to stop by our Christmas Shop to explore our beautiful selection of unique handpicked gifts and homeware. With both classic and contemporary styles with an emphasis on British made products, you will find everything from greeting cards to books, games and confectionery.
The Stables Shop is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11am – 4pm.
4.Enjoy a fudge hot chocolate in the Yurt Cafe
This Christmas our Yurt Cafe are serving some special seasonal delights including mulled wine, white chocolate lattes, fudge hot chocolate and Baileys hot chocolate. The perfect sweet treat to keep your hands warm while you explore the deer park. We’ve also got a delicious selection of cakes, sandwiches and savoury snacks to keep you refuelled on your adventures.
5.Catch up with friends and family over a festive dining experience
Share some quality time with friends, family or colleagues this Christmas with a festive dining experience at the High Force Hotel. This winter we are offering delicious afternoon teas on Sunday 4th and 18th December with three tiers of savoury sandwiches, scones and sweet treats. Alongside this is our festive fayre menu which will be running throughout the whole of December featuring Raby longhorn beef, turkey, roast potatoes, large helpings of gravy and all your favourite staples.
This year we are hosting a 12 Days of Christmas Trail in the Deer Park. Sing along as you collect the Christmas clues to complete this festive song. How many lords a leaping can you find? How many swans a swimming? See if you can complete all the questions on your journey around the park.
This trail is included FREE with every Deer Park Ticket and open daily until Christmas Eve from 10am – 4pm.
Our scenic woodland walk is open between Christmas and New Year so you can enjoy a family outing to High Force Waterfall. Explore our wintry woods and reindeer trail, collecting clues along the way. Or try our new woodland trail and find our magical woodland animals including a moon-gazing hare, friendly fox and curious caterpillar.
High Force Waterfall is open daily from 10am – 4pm.
8.Explore our Enchanted Plotters’ Forest day or night
Escape to our enchanted Plotters’ Forest for a family adventure this Christmas. Children will love exploring the towers and treetops during the day to find Christmas clues or soaking up the twinkling lights in our illuminated after dark sessions. Adults can relax atop The Plotters’ Pantry with a hot festive drink or join in the fun to complete the trail. Daytime tickets include up to 2 hours play in The Plotters’ Forest as well as Deer Park access to our 12 Days of Christmas Trail.
9.Browse our array of local suppliers at our Christmas Market
Our popular FREE Christmas Market is returning this year on the 3rd and 4th of December. Browse our array of local stalls which will feature food and drink, jewellery, crafts and more. The ideal place to do some Christmas shopping.
The market is open on the 3rd and 4th of December from 10am – 4pm.
Christmas is coming and to celebrate we caught up with Estate Chef, Tom to find out how to cook the perfect Christmas Pudding.
Preparation time: 1 hour Cooking time: 4-6 hours Serves: 6-8 Equipment & preparation:You will need 1.5ltr pudding basin, mixing bowl, spoon Allergies: This recipe is vegetarian
100g Self Raising Flour
75g Butter, Softened (additional 20g to butter cooking container)
100g Muscovado Sugar
2 Medium Free-Range Egg
1 Apple (peeled, cored and small dice)
100g Mixed Peel
40g Fresh Breadcrumbs
40g Mixed Nuts
1 Orange (Rind and juice)
1tsp (3g) Mixed Spice
Measure the raisins, currants, and apple into a bowl with the orange juice. Add the measured brandy, stir, and leave to marinate for about one hour.
Put the measured butter, sugar and grated orange rind into a large bowl and cream together with a wooden spoon or a hand-held whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs.
Sift together the flour and mixed spice, then fold into the creamed mixture with the breadcrumbs and the nuts. Add the soaked dried fruits with their soaking liquid and stir well.
Generously butter a 1.4 litre/2½ pint pudding basin. Cut a small disc of foil or baking parchment and press into the base of the basin.
Spoon into the prepared pudding basin and press the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover the pudding with a layer of baking parchment paper and foil, both pleated across the middle to allow for expansion.
To boil the pudding, put a metal jam jar lid, or metal pan lid, into the base of a large pan to act as a trivet. Place a long, doubled strip of foil in the pan, between the trivet and the pudding basin, ensuring the ends of the strip reach up and hang over the edges of the pan. This will help you to lift the heavy pudding basin out of the pan of hot water when it has finished cooking.
Lower the pudding onto the trivet and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the bowl. Cover with a lid, bring the water back to the boil, then simmer for about seven hours, until the pudding is a glorious deep brown colour, topping up the water as necessary.
When cooked through, remove the pudding from the pan and cool completely. Discard the paper and foil and replace with fresh. Store in a cool, dry place.
To serve, on Christmas Day, reheat in microwave, turn the pudding onto a serving plate. To flame, warm some brandy or rum in a small pan, pour it over the hot pudding and set light to it.
We will be selling our delicious Raby Christmas Puddings in the Stables Shop along with Raby Sloe Gin and Ginger Wine this year. The Shop is open Monday – Sunday from 11am to 4pm.
As the nights draw in and the autumn colours begin to give way to winter, thoughts turn towards Christmas and for the forestry team, Christmas trees.
The tradition of bringing a tree into the home for the festive period started in 16th Century Germany, however in Britain it became fashionable in the mid 1840s when Queen Victoria & Prince Albert were pictured with their children around a decorated Christmas tree. Decorations may have moved on from candles and treats to the glass baubles and fairy lights of today, but for many of us Christmas is not the same without a real tree.
Here at Raby, we grow 5 species of Christmas tree.
In recent years Nordman fir has become the most popular choice with its dense green foliage and excellent needle retention. Fraser fir offers a more compact tree where space in the home is more limited but still with great needle holding ability. Norway spruce, seen by many as a traditional Christmas tree, offers a cost-effective option with trees sheared to give a well-shaped, bushy appearance and the smell many of us associate with a good, fresh tree. We also grow a small number of noble fir and blue spruce, both of which offer something a little different, with a blue-green tinge to the foliage.
Whilst the Christmas tree harvesting will get underway in late November, as we present trees for the Christmas Shop and to decorate Raby Castle and the gardens trail, the work to grow these trees began several years ago.
It can take 8-12 years to grow a good quality tree during which time regular weeding, pruning and shearing is required.
The trees are typically 20-40cm in height when planted and can be 4-14 feet in height when cut, offering a significant choice for our customers, to find a tree that will fit in most homes or gardens. Having a wide range of trees for people to select adds to the overall Christmas experience and it is great to see so many customers return year on year to choose their tree, often making it a day out with family and friends.
This year we are offering a recycling service in 2nd – 9th January, by which trees purchased from the Estate can be returned for chipping to be used on the paths or as a mulch. Whilst we are looking forward to the buzz of the Christmas period, we are also thinking ahead to the new year when we will begin to prepare the plantations and plant new stock to start the cycle once again.
Geoff Turnbull Head Forester
The Raby Forestry Team
Brian Teasdale, Kevin Todd, Peter Archer and Trevor Slack
Forestry Team with Head Forester, Geoff Turnbull
Raby Estates embarks on the biggest restoration project in decades Click HERE to find out more!