Lord William Galloway Ball
Born: 1275 at Bernard Castle, Berkshire, England
Died: 1357 in Lamington, Scotland
Married to: Elizabeth Wallace (1295-1320)
Barnard Castle is a ruined Norman castle perched on rocky cliffs overlooking the River Tees. The castle stands on the site of an old Roman Road and is located in County Durham. The town, Barnard Castle, now surrounding the castle takes its name from the great structure. By the late 12th century, it was one of the largest castles in Northern England covering an area of 6 acres. The castle had a strong defense system and was divided into four wards, with the outer ward and gatehouse dividing the castle from the town. A deep ditch protected the inner ward and it is here that you can see what is left of the castle today.
You can still see the remains of the Great Hall and the Great Chamber and it is possible to climb some of the way up the 12th century red sandstone keep. There are also other remains within this inner ward such as the prison and Headlam Tower.
The land on which Barnard Castle stands was given to Guy de Baliol by William Rufus around 1093. Guy began construction of a small earthwork castle and stone gatehouse in 1095. Guy's son Bernard, and later his grandson Bernard II, continued this work by replacing Guy's gatehouse with the Headlam Tower and constructing the Inner Ward and 2 storey keep between 1125 and 1140. Bernard died in 1154 and his son carried on expanding the castle. In the years leading up to 1170, further buildings were added including the curtain walls and the Constable Tower. By 1185, the Great Hall, Great Chamber and prison had been completed, making Barnard Castle one of the largest castles in the north of England.
The castle's position made it a focal point of the English/Scottish disputes and it changed hands several times during the next 200 years. During the 13th century the castle came under attack by Scottish forces and it fell into Scottish hands for a short period. The Prince-Bishops of Durham however disputed the claim and after King John of Scotland was overthrown in 1296, the Prince-Bishops gained control over the castle.
By the early 1300's. Barnard Castle was given to the Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick by King Edward I. The Earls improved the castle's defenses and rebuilt the Great Hall. By the 15th century it had passed into the Neville family by way of marriage and they continued the tradition of improving the castle and surrounding estate.
During the Wars of the Roses, the castle was taken by Richard, Duke of Gloucester who was later to become King Richard III. Before his marriage to Anne Neville, Richard made the castle his principal residence and whilst there he carried out some minor improvements. The white boar carved in one of the castle windows is testament to the period when Barnard Castle was in the hands of King Richard. The castle remained in the hands of the crown after Richard's death but was neglected and began to fall into disrepair.
Charles Neville, the 6th Earl of Westmorland, along with Thomas Percy, led the Rising of the North, an unsuccessful attempt to place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. The castle was attacked by an army of 5,000 supporters of Queen Mary. The garrison stationed there, under the command of Sir George Bowes, fled and Sir George was forced to surrender after an 11 day siege. The fighting took its toll on the castle and it was left pretty much in ruins. For his part in the rebellion, Charles Neville had all of his property sequestered and Barnard Castle was firmly back in the hands of the crown.
In 1626, Sir Henry Vane bought both Barnard and Raby castles. Sir Henry preferred Raby and set about disassembling Barnard Castle to rebuild his primary residence. Local builders also ravaged the property for materials until all that remains of this once impressive castle are the ruins we see today.