A brief history of Saint Mary’s Parish Church
Originally a daughter church of the parish of Gainford, Barnard Castle was in the gift of St. Mary’s Abbey at York until after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Trinity College, Cambridge, then became the patrons, and have appointed the incumbents ever since, In 1866 Barnard Castle became a separate parish with its own Vicar, instead of a Perpetual Curate from Gainford, A great benefactor of the church was Richard, Duke of Gloucester (afterwards Richard ifi), who was Lord of Barnard Castle from 1477-85. He greatly extended and beautified the church at his own cost and intended to found a college of priests here, although the plan was not apparently put into effect. His supposed effigy is on the south side of the Chancel arch, and his wild boar emblem is carved on the outside of the east window in the South Transept .
There are some interesting monuments, including that of Robert de Mortham, a 14th century vicar of Gainford in the North Transept. The entrance porch has memorials to Sir John & Lady Hullock, a local man who became a judge and Baron of the Exchequer, and to an officer who died of wounds received in the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.
The church plate includes two fine silver chalices dated 1670 and 1680, both still in weekly use.
The font, of stone from the local river known as Tees Marble, is unique, and dates from 1485. The markings on it deft historians’ attempts at interpretation, but are probably a Medieval Guild or Brotherhood Mark.
The South Doorway, which was plastered over in the wall of
the South Aisle until the restoration works of the 19th century, is of the
Transitional Period between the 12th & 13th centuries. The bases are Early
English. The upper order of mouldings has Norman characteristics. Drawings of
the early 18th century indicate the presence of an outer porch of Georgian
Outside to the west of the South Door stands the interesting table tomb of Humphrey Hopper, of Black Headley, Northumberland.The Architecture