History Outreach Volunteers

Join our dedicated group of volunteers promoting the history of Barnard Castle and its oldest church through activities, events and research

St Mary’s Parish Church is one of the oldest buildings in Barnard Castle. Built at around the same time as the famous castle, St Mary’s sits at the heart of the town, and its story. We’re looking for 10 – 15 people who are curious about the past and want to help us share the forgotten stories of Barnard Castle with residents, tourists, and visitors alike.

We will be supported by the St Mary’s History Research Volunteers who will dive deep into the archives to find out more about the forgotten history of Barnard Castle and its oldest church. They will share their findings which you can turn into an exciting programme of tours, talks, and blogs that will unlock the history of Barnard Castle, to be enjoyed by tourists, visitors, and residents alike.

What’s involved?

We’re looking for people who can help us:

  • Create new content for our history blog
  • Lead regular guided tours through the church and around significant places in Barnard Castle town
  • Organise history talks and events

You will benefit from:

  • Personal development and skills training
  • Meeting new people
  • Increased confidence
  • A sense of achievement in helping to spark a local appreciation for the town’s history

What is required?

There is no minimum number of hours per week or month that you need to commit. We are happy for any time you can give to us and we are very flexible around changes in your personal circumstances.

When you join us, you can also choose whether you prefer public-facing tasks like guiding tours and organising events, or working more independently on research and writing blogs. However, you must be:

  • Friendly, respectful, and professional when working with the public and each other
  • Willing to learn and be part of a team
  • Responsible and good at managing your own time
  • Punctual and able to meet deadlines for any tasks you commit to, including public events
  • Willing to commit long term


Do I need previous experience?

No previous experience or qualifications are required. This is an opportunity to learn and grow. You might start by supporting more experienced volunteers who are leading a tour, or helping to organise a new activity. Before long, you might find yourself designing and hosting your very own events!

Where do I need to be located?

Being local to Barnard Castle will always be an advantage, but you can also join us from further afield, or even remotely – writing history blogs, creating visitor materials, and archival research are all possible from anywhere with a decent internet connection!

How does it work?

We’ll start with an introductory meeting in late May to introduce ourselves, and our work so far. You will be able to ask any questions about the opportunity to help you decide if you want to join us.

We will then meet up regularly – via Zoom, and/or in person at St Mary’s when it is safe and relevant to do so.

We will provide training and support to develop your skills and confidence until September 2021. From then on, you’ll take a more leading role in an ongoing programme of research, events, and content, with support from a volunteer co-ordinator.

Do I need to be religious?

No, you do not need to be religious. People of all faiths, or none, are welcome. You simply need to be interested in the history of a religious building which has been at the heart of a community for nearly 900 years – the St Mary’s history volunteers are primarily interested in researching and sharing stories about the people of Barnard Castle, as held within the archives of St Mary’s. All we ask is that all volunteers are respectful of others’ beliefs and avoid religious discussions or expressions of faith that might leave others feeling uncomfortable or excluded

What’s your mission?

Over the last year, we’ve been working on a project called Windows to the World, which aimed to restore the building, and open up the wealth of history hidden inside for the benefit of the town. Our mission is to continue that journey, and keep on sharing the forgotten stories of Barnard Castle; for nearly 900 years, St Mary’s Parish church has stood at the heart of the town, and been a place where the ordinary townspeople gathered, connected, kept town records, or buried their dead. By dusting off our archives, and with a little sleuthing, we’ll be able to uncover new stories to tell about the town’s past. The history of St Mary’s Parish church aims to be a common ground for all – residents, tourists, and visitors alike.

How do I apply?

Send us an email the subject “History Outreach Volunteer” with one or two paragraphs telling us why you’re interested in getting involved, and what you’d like to learn. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can!