Staindrop is a picturesque village with a history very firmly rooted in the medieval period.
The village possesses a wide range of houses of differing styles set on either side of large green, many with Georgian frontages. Aerial views of the village, such as that below, of properties behind South Green, show quite clearly its origins, with long “garths” or garden plots behind many of the houses.
Visitors come to Staindrop for many reasons. We have a variety of shops, including a renowned butchers, tea-rooms, a pub, a bistro and a fish and chip shop. You can have a lovely meal here, or simply have a picnic on the village green.
Part of the green towards the north-western end is set out for quoits – a game of some antiquity which involves throwing metal rings up and down a pitch with target pins at either end embedded in areas of soft clay. The game has historical associations with agricultural and working class people – the nearby pub has a quoits team.
There are a variety of walks using public rights of way around the village into the stunning countryside that surrounds Staindrop.
St Mary’s Church is of considerable antiquity and well worth a visit. It has regular events, including a flower festival, Christmas fair and music concerts.
Raby Castle is also on our doorstep. The Castle, a tearoom and shop are open during the tourist season from Easter onwards, and open again over the Christmas period. The view of the castle from the adjoining main road, within the setting of the deer park, is outstanding.
Staindrop sits within the greater area of south-west Durham called Teesdale (not to be confused with Teesside!), a strikingly beautiful and still relatively undiscovered part of the north-east which is home to rare flora and fauna and part of which lies within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Within close proximity can be found the town of Barnard Castle which has a weekly market on Wednesdays and some interesting antique shops and an auction house with bi-weekly sales. Another Market Town worth visiting is Middleton-in-Teesdale further up the Dale.
The ruins of the castle and the Church in Barnard Castle (which has associations with Richard III) can be visited. The town is also home to the Bowes Museum – built in the style of a French chateau by a local landowner and his wife in the nineteenth century and home to some wonderful objects, including paintings by artists such as El Greco, Canaletto, and a recently discovered Van Dyck. It is most famous for the “Silver Swan” – a musical automaton of a life size swan made from silver which can still be seen in operation daily.
There are several other picturesque villages within striking distance of Staindrop, including Whorlton, with its early suspension bridge across the River Tees; Romaldkirk; and Cotherstone. The village of Ovington, nearby, is famous for its permanent Maypole, and Barningham, which lies to the south of the A66 adjoins Barningham Moor, has some fascinating bronze age remains and cup and ring stones scattered across the landscape.
Cockfield village, which is near to Staindrop was also the birthplace of Jermiah Dixon, the local inventor, whose main claim to fame lies in the Mason-Dixon line in the USA which he helped to survey and lay out. Jeremiah, who was born in 1733, later returned to England where he died in 1779 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Society of Friends burial ground in Staindrop, as was the custom at that time. The land today forms part of a private house and garden.
Eggleston Hall Gardens are also easily within striking distance of Staindrop. Here you will find an outstanding nursery, selling rare and unusual plants – a gardener’s dream; as well as beautiful gardens (small entry fee payable). There is also a delicatessen and a bistro which are open during the tourist season.
In addition to walking, you can also visit the nearby Hamsterley Forest, owned by the Forestry Commission, which has many interesting walks and bike trails (bikes can be hired locally).
There are a number of attractions in Staindrop which are held annually – most notably the Village Carnival, which is usually held in July. The west end of the village is transformed with the arrival of fairground rides and stalls, as well as other attractions, and the carnival takes place over two days – Saturday and Sunday.
Scarth Memorial Village Hall in Staindrop plays host to a number of meetings of local organisations (including the Parish Council), but also stages a number of events throughout the year, including a beer festival.