Little is known about the prehistory of Staindrop, although a number of flint tools have been found around Sink House. A Neolithic stone axe was also found in the village. This may have been used by early farmers to clear their fields before ploughing.
The village of Staindrop was first recorded circa. 1030, when it was given to the monks of Durham Cathedral by King Canute. It was first mentioned in 1050 as ‘Standropa’ and derives from the Old English, ‘Saen-throp’, which translates to stoney village.
Staindrop was a busy Medieval village but presently the only standing remains of this period are at St Mary’s church. The church of St Mary was originally founded in the late Anglo-Saxon period and the nave of the current church is formed from that of the original church of St Gregory. The church is still used, and contains some fragments of Anglo-Saxon carved stones. An Anglo-Saxon sundial is built into the chancel. In the medieval period the church was attached to a college: a small monastery, of a type known as a college was founded here in 1408, by Ralph, Earl of Westmorland. Although the site stood to the north of the church, no remains can be seen. The church now has a tall tower. Inside, a screen in front of the chancel dates to before the Reformation, it is the only one surviving in Durham.
The village developed under the influence of the Neville family and the Vane family, whose main house was Raby Castle, just to the north of the village. The Lords of Raby were buried in splendid tombs in this church. The Nevilles in the south-west corner of the church and the Vanes in the north-west.
Two important medieval buildings stand in the village. Old Lodge was once an outpost of Raby Castle. Little is
known of the history of the building, but its style is that of the late 14th century. It is L-shaped in plan and has three stories. The remains of a dry stone wall can be traced around the base of the mound in places. The building was restored circa.1894 and most of the windows and doors are of that date. Snotterton Hall was the site of the old fortified manor house of Snotterton. It was mostly taken down in 1831 and rebuilt as a farmhouse. The original building had probably been built in the 15th century. Traces of the old building can be seen in a stone window in the southeastern corner of the courtyard. The remaining buildings of the village are of the 17th (the Manor House and Deanery), 18th (Church Bridge, the Vicarage and village cottages), and 19th centuries (the village pump, Alms houses, cottages, and the Methodist Chapel).
In the past Staindrop was a very busy place, with many traders and craftsmen. Fairs and markets began to be held from 1378 when a Charter was granted to Lord John Neville of Raby. The cattle market continued until 1858. A public drinking fountain was erected in 1885 and can still be seen today.
Nearby to the village is Raby Castle, home of Lord Barnard. Raby was built in the 14th century by the powerful Nevill Family and remained with them until 1569. After the failure of the rising in the North, the lands were forfeited to the Crown. They came into the possession of the Vane family in 1626 and have remained the property of the Vane’s since that time. The castle is surrounded by 200 acres of deepark.
You can find out much more about the fascinating history of Staindrop and its wonderful architecture from the Staindrop Conservation Area Appraisal Document published by Durham County Council in 2012. The document includes lots of photographs of Staindrop, as well as details of the many listed houses in the village:
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