Work begins on landmark renovation scheme at mediaeval castle

Several award-winning consultants have been revealed as development partners in Raby Castle’s landmark renovation scheme, The Rising, which began a two-year programme of works this week.  

The 700-year-old castle near Darlington in County Durham is one of the most intact mediaeval structures in England. Buildings added to the estate in the 18th Century have lain empty for decades, but thanks to the vision of its owners, Lord and Lady Barnard and a team of restoration visionaries, the site will enjoy a renaissance that can be enjoyed by tourists and the local community alike. 

Conservation architects Donald Insall Associates – who have been engaged in projects at Raby since about 1970 – have shared their expertise to re-invigorate the structures, including a beautiful late 18th-century arcaded stone “Dutch” hay barn (Grade II*), coach house (also Grade II*) and former riding school (Grade II).   

Lead heritage architect, Francis Maude, who has worked on the restoration of Windsor Castle after the 1993 fire, and at the Palace of Westminster, said

“This project is a wonderful opportunity to bring life back to these impressive and beautiful buildings. The quality of their original construction and mixture of internal and external spaces makes sustainable development here highly achievable.

The buildings will link the castle, park and gardens to the local community and to visitors through a range of heritage, horticultural, retail, recreation and restaurant activities. We are privileged to have the opportunity to help the Raby Estate deliver that vision.” 

World-class garden designer Luciano Guibbilei was personally appointed by Lady Barnard to oversee the redesign of the Castle’s 18th Century Walled Garden. Guibbilei has extensive experience working on redefining heritage gardens and working closely with Lady Barnard, has designed a space which includes a dramatic sunken amphitheatre and aims to connect Raby’s visitor to nature.  

Fellow resident in the Northeast, Alistair Baldwin, has been appointed lead landscape architect and is responsible for creating beautiful connecting spaces between the various buildings that comprise The Rising development.

Alistair said:

“We are creating an inspiring destination for both tourists and the local community, that can be enjoyed outside the castle’s paywall. We wanted to capture that old Raby village feel of bygone years, with beautiful soft planting and statuesque trees, cobbled streets – using reclaimed materials discovered on the estate, which will lead people through the social space of the development.”

Thornton-Firkin has been appointed principal designer, with building services consultants TGA and civil and structural engineers JC Consulting supporting. 

Catering concepts firm, Catering Projects, have been hired to create the dynamic, efficient space inside the Vinery café and Edinburgh-based brand consultants Bright are working on a cohesive visual identity for both The Rising and Raby Castle, Park and Gardens. 

Project Manager Glenn Bland has been brought in to work alongside Claire Jones, Head of Leisure and Tourism at Raby, to deliver the project. 

The Rising will also house a bespoke children’s adventure playground – as designed by attractions specialist, CAP.Co. Nestled within the site’s Christmas tree plantation, the new adventure playground is designed to amplify the story of Raby Castle, to offer imaginative and creative play for children aged 4-10 years old. 

Lord Barnard said,

“The experts working with us add a huge amount and we are really lucky to have them on board. We are working on an area of the park and with historic buildings that have been underutilised for a long time and it was important to me to embrace that challenge for future generations to enjoy.” 

Lady Barnard added,

“This development is about securing the castle’s future and adding our own personal stamp in the process. We are absolutely delighted to realise our ambitions for Raby alongside such a talented team of professionals who have all been personally chosen for the expertise they have in their fields.” 

Raby’s CEO, Duncan Peake, said:

“We are fortunate enough to have gathered some of the best consultants in the industry to help us deliver these ambitious plans, to bring a new and exciting era to Raby Castle.  

Lord and Lady Barnard want this development to leave a lasting legacy – not just for their family but crucially, for the local community to use and enjoy.   

The level of professionalism and expertise that these specialists bring helps us to elevate our plans to an exciting reality and as work starts on the first phase in November, Lord and Lady Barnard’s vision will start to be realised.”