Jan 28th, 2011 | | Conservation | Private Houses | No Comments

Raby Castle

Raby Castle is situated near Staindrop in County Durham and is one of the largest inhabited castles in England. The Grade I listed building has opulent eighteenth and nineteenth century interiors inside a largely unchanged, late medieval shell.

The story of the castle is closely linked with the powerful Nevill and Vane families. The present building was begun in c.1360 by John, 3rd Baron Nevill, as a fortress composed of a curtain wall with eight massive towers surrounding a central keep. The original defensive purposes of the Castle is made clear by the fact that the only entrance is through a fortified gateway accessed by a narrow path across a moat.

The Nevills held Raby until 1569 when it was forfeited to the crown following their support for the failed Rising of the North. The castle remained in crown hands until 1626 when it was purchased by Sir Henry Vane the Elder, Treasurer to Charles I. It is the currently home and seat of John Vane, 11th Baron Barnard.

I was employed to investigate the painted surfaces in the Octagon Room. This room dates from 1848 and was created by the Scottish architect, William Burn.

I was able to demonstrate that it is a most rare survivor of an 1840′s room with unchanged decoration, displaying lavish textiles: gold silk lines the eight walls, and the curtains and elaborate swags are of crimson and gold silk.

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