Barnard Castle is a market town at the east of Teesdale in Southwest County Durham.
At the last census, the population was calculated to be around 5,500 people but you could be forgiven for thinking this bustling place was much larger.
Many visitors to the town get absorbed by the range of shops and market stalls and completely miss the Blue Plaque trail that has been set up through the town, that provides historical information about people and buildings associated with the town.
Amongst the many names, you will find the author Charles Dickens, who visited the town back in 1838 while researching material for his novel “Nicholas Nickleby”.
He was so taken by the town, that other local characters stuck in his mind. The local clock maker, Mr Thomas Humphreys was to be immortalised in the writings of “Master Humphrey’s Clock”.
Other names commemorated may not be so familiar.
Sir Roderick Murchison, a geologist and explorer, was two times President of the Royal Geographical Society is mentioned on a plaque on Galgate. Dying in 1871 at the age of 79, he had a town in New Zealand, a mountain range and river in Australia, falls on the river Nile and a Sound in Greenland named after him.
Also on Galgate, you will find a plaque commemorating William Hutchinson. He was a historian of some repute and the author of “The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham”, published in 1786.
The list of people associated with the town shows that Barnard Castle shows the people there contributed so much more to the nation than could be expected of a town its size. However, none were more famous than King Richard III himself. As the Duke of Gloucester and Lord of Barnard Castle (1474-1485), he made many improvements to the castle itself, as well as being both defender and a great patron of the local church.
The Durham Tourism site has a map of the trail available to download and has rated the walk as ‘easy’.