Accessible guide test
Created on July 13, 2023
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R A B YC A S T L E
W E L C O M E T O R A B Y C A S T L E
Use our accessible tour to explore the rooms of Raby and delve into the history of how they have changed over time. You can even take a sneak peek into the finer details of some of our favourite items and areas in the castle.
Use the navigation buttons at the bottom of the page to guide yourself from room to room. Click on the highlighted features to learn more about them.
The 4th Duchesses' Handbook
The extensive range of portraits represent family members and individuals connected with the Vanes. The earliest portrait is of Charles Neville (the only one concerning the Neville family,) the newest is of the current Lord Barnard.
The 4th Duchess of Cleveland (1819-1901) was a formidable scholar and historian, writing The Handbook for Raby Castle in 1870.Lady Catherine was known to fill in the gaps of lesser-known histories within her Handbook, and was quite opinionated when it came to her predecessors who chose to alter the castle throughout the years. The Handbook offers an invaluable insight into how the castle would have looked in the mid to late 1800s, how it was developed, and how the family would have used each space.
Click on the pencil icon to see some first-hand accounts from the Duchess.
4th Duchesses Handbook
A master mason, John Lewyn was known for major work in the North of England at locations such as Durham Cathedral, Durham Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and Raby Castle. He built Durham Cathedral’s Great Priory Kitchen, which shares some similarities in style with Raby’s own kitchen tower. He was a sought-after mason for notable Lords of the 14th century, and was referred to as the ‘Bishop’s Mason’ from 1368.
This example is 'A Survey of the Microcosm, or the Anatomy of the Bodies of Man and Woman.' from 1702, an anatomy flap-book.
The bookshelves contain a vast array of topics which interested the Vane family, including travel, nature, religion and politics.
Many medieval features still seen today have been adapted and modernised. Developments in technology altered the roles of those working in kitchens, enhanced food preservation capabilities and increased cooking speed. In the 19th century, one of the great fires used for cooking was replaced by a cast iron range, which used heat convection to turn the spit. A spinning fan in the chimney drove a ratchet, which turned a spindle, which kept the spit rotating. In the 20th century, a more modern stove-top range was installed, but the outline of the original fireplace is still visible behind it.
The Hall has served many different functions over the centuries. Most notably, as a site involved with the Rising of the North, where Charles Neville, 6th Earl of Westmorland (1542-1601) reputedly gathered with 700 knights to plot a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with her Catholic cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. The plot was doomed to failure, and the Earl fled England, leaving Raby Castle to fall into the hands of the Crown.During the Middle Ages, the Hall would have been used by the Lord and Lady of the house for eating meals and as a meeting place or audience chamber. It later came to be used primarily for recreation- Elizabeth, Duchess of Cleveland (c. 1777-1861) created an elaborate museum of natural history, while the 4th Duchess, Catherine Lucy Wilhelmina (1819-1901) established a library and space for entertaining. More recently, the hall has been used for concerts, family celebrations, tenant events and servants’ balls.
The Baron’s Hall was part of the original 14th century Raby castle, but has been altered several times since then. This includes having its’ floors raised in 1780 to accommodate John Carr’s ambitious carriageway Entrance Hall.
The Barons' Hall
The Minstrel’s Gallery was a balcony used to allow musicians (or minstrels) to perform out of the way of guests. Raby’s has been altered twice, including in 1864 when a doorway was cut through the middle to allow access from the Grand Staircase. This is a unique example of one made of stone; they were typically made of wood.
The Minstrel's Gallery
This image depicts Baron’s Hall prior to Burn’s renovations. It shows the Minstrel’s Gallery as it originally would have been laid out.
The south wall windows incorporate armorial stained glass by Thomas Willement (1786-1871), which dates from the George IV period (1820-1830). These windows display the coats of arms of the women who married into Raby, including notable names such as the Powletts, Fitzroys, Bulmers and Pulteneys.
Heraldic stained glass: L-R: Powlett, Vane, Duke of Cleveland's supporters (lion and hound), Royal coat of arms, Pulteney (?)
A passage is cut into the thick walls of the kitchen. Defensively, it allowed men at arms to keep watch through the original arrow slits which were later widened into the current windows. It also provided access to the Barons’ Hall for serving food.
Include a video of the passageway
Ice cream maker Ices became popular delicacies in the 18th century. After churning the ice cream, the Raby kitchen staff used ice cream moulds, or bombes, to create elegant treats. The supply of ice was maintained throughout the year: an icehouse was constructed underground in the Raby Park to store ice collected from the lakes in winter, which would last into June.
‘The most curious part of the whole Castle, for it has been scarcely altered from what it was when the great banquets of the feudal ages were served from it.’
The Castle’s collection includes historical receipt books, which first began to circulate widely in the 19th century. In addition to recipes for particular dishes, some also contain instructions for making medicines, cosmetics, and household products- sometimes using unorthodox ingredients.
Transcription: Fish Sauce or Soya One quart of red port. ½ a pint Wine Vinegar. 1lb Anchovies. ½ oz black pepper, ½ oz of Jamaica pepper, ¼ oz Cayan pepper, ½ oz ginger, the rind & juice of a Lemon, a bit of horse radish, a bunch of Thyme, & an onion, boil them half an hour; then strain it through a sieve. When cold, bottle it. N.B. you may put half a pint of wine upon the ingredients, & a little Vinegar, boil them up for present use. To Make Gooseberry Wine. Mrs. Pashley To every pound of Gooseberries when picked and rinsed, put one quart of water. Let it stand 6 days stirring it twice every day. To every gallon of juice when diluted with the water put 3lb of Loaf Sugar. Put it into a barrel & in half a year if the sweetness is gone off, bottle it. To every 20 quarts of liquor put a bottle of the best brandy, a little Isinglass dissolved in the liquor. Lord Grandby’s Beer 5 Sticks? of Malt, 2 Pecks of Wheat, 2 Pecks of White Oats. Seventy-two gallons of beer is to be brewed from the above. Is ready in six weeks & will keep for years. The water to stand on 4 hours & boiler for one hour. 2 lb of Hops & cooked as other beer. To make Orgeat Take a quart of new Milk & a gill of thick cream, stir them well together, then boil it, add a stick of Cinnamon in it, let it stand to be cold. Then blanch & beat ¼ lb of sweet Almonds & four single bitter ones with a little Rose water, mix them with the milk and sweeten it to your taste with loaf sugar. Then boil it all together but as not to oil the Almonds. Strain it through a sieve till it is quite smooth & free from the Almonds. Let it stand to be cold before you put it into the Glasses.
Some of these moulds bear the monogram of the Dukes of Cleveland. Since the owners did not always live at Raby, it was customary for certain implements to accompany the family when they moved between their residences.Many of the fancy moulds were used for mousses of meat and fish or jellies, while the smaller, plainer ones were used as butter moulds.
18th and 19th century
This is the earliest portrait we have of any of the owners of Raby Castle. Painted posthumously a year after his death, Charles was the last member of the Neville family to own the Castle before his involvement in the failed Rising of the North. The portrait is one of the few pieces of evidence we have from before the Vane’s purchased Raby.
6th (and last) Earl of Westmorland
Modelled in the Meissen porcelain factory, these sculptures were influenced by Chinese ceramic production techniques, and are some early examples of European porcelain. The birds proved quite difficult to produce, their size making it challenging to keep in one piece during the firing process. There are five birds- the cockerel, turkey, eagle, vulture and pelican. The pelican is the largest, and the posture enables the heavy head to be supported by the body.
‘The modelling is admirable, and the action so lifelike, that I for one can never look at the one choking itself in the attempt to swallow a fish without a wish to fly to its assistance.’
‘I can scarcely conceive that the 700 knights who came to pay their respects to the great Lord of the Fee can ever have been entertained at dinner here. I have seen 200 members of the Archaeological Society sitting down to luncheon together in the lower part, and it seemed full’
During the Medieval period, cooking was done on four open fires, with meat roasted on spits turned by small boys, or dogs, on tread wheels.Great kitchens in medieval households were principally staffed by men, due to the strength needed for larger-scale catering. The most junior servant in a medieval kitchen was the scullion. They washed cooking utensils and dishes and cleaned and swept the service rooms and courtyards. In the later centuries, these jobs belonged to a scullery maid. Numbers of women servants began to grow from the fifteenth century, but whilst by the sixteenth century female servants were more common, this was not in positions of major responsibility. The Great Kitchen was in daily use until 1954, albeit with more modern cooking facilities than the original spits over fires, when cooking facilities were added nearer the Dining Room.
The Great Kitchen was built in the 14th century. It is inside the kitchen tower, which was originally a structure separate from the rest of the castle to prevent the spread of fire and cooking smells. The high, arched ceiling and ventilation shaft in the centre of the roof encourages the circulation of cool air.