Barnard Castle is a quaint, cobbled town in County Durham in the North East of England with some dark and haunted secrets, says GAYLE FIDLER

Barnard Castle (Or Barney as it is commonly referred to by locals) is a beautiful market town.

During a wander around the town centre you will discover antique shops galore, delightful places to lunch and the banks of the River Tees to stroll along.

The town is built around a castle of the same name, now ruined and under the management of English Heritage.

The castle itself dates to the 12th century and was built by Bernard de Balliol and later passed to Richard III.

The castle ruins are certainly worth a visit. Amazing views over the river and the town below. However, there is a dark side. There are many torrid tales in the dark history of Barnard Castle. 

Barnard Castle

The haunted history of Barnard Castle

Perhaps the most well-known is that of Lady Ann Day. 

Unfortunately, many details of the life and death of Lady Ann Day have been lost in the mists of time. 

There are conflicting reports of her demise. Some say she was murdered; others say she committed suicide after her lover was beheaded. 

It is believed that she lived during the sixteenth century and died at the castle after falling or being thrown from the castle walls into the raging river below.

Over the years, many visitors have reported seeing the spectre of a woman in white, toppling over the walls. There have even been reports of hearing her petrified screams and cries as she fell.

Barnard Castle

In the Castle’s Round Tower visitors have become terribly uneasy and had a sudden urge to leave. Once outside they immediately feel fine. Are they picking up on the terror of Lady Ann’s dreadful last moments or something else?

In 1569 the castle was besieged by rebel invaders during the rising of the north. 

This was an attempt to remove Elizabeth I from the throne and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. 

During the siege, the castle was captured, many men chose to jump for their lives over the castle walls. Many suffered devastating injuries, some fatal. Is it the agonised wails of these men that locals have reported hearing on dark nights?

No trip to Barney is complete without a visit to Bowes Museum

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

Built as a public art gallery and opened in 1892. The beautiful architecture of this French inspired building is a wonder. The museum houses many priceless artefacts including china, paintings and strangely, a taxidermy two headed calf (of which, incidentally I keep a picture on my fridge. He is cute and deserves a visit).

Old Well Inn, Barnard Castle

If all that history has made you thirsty, head for a pint at the Old Well Inn. 

Dating back to the 12th Century this historic pub has a long and chequered past. Part of the pub was previously private dwellings. 

The families who lived there suffered from a terrible cholera outbreak in 1849. The building was also used as a soldier’s billet during the first world war, taking in 20 soldiers in cramped conditions. 

It is reported that the ghost of a young boy still dwells there. Even more sinister, it is claimed that a lady who was staying at the pub awoke one night to a dark shadowy figure climbing onto her bed.

St Mary’s Churchyard

In St Mary’s Churchyard, a sinister tomb lingers. It is the tomb of one George Hopper.  Little is known about the dweller of this grave. However local stories say that if you happen upon the grave, you will see the image of death carved into it.

If you are one of the unlucky folks who happen to see Death’s scythe move, you or one of your family members will soon be joining George Hopper in the ground. 

Barnard Castle Church

Look closely whilst on your wanders around Barnard Castle, you may indeed see many strange and out of place things. 

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