St Mary’s – a building for everyone!
St Mary’s Church was not just a place for public worship. Until the mid-19th century, it served as town hall, playhouse and fire station when Sir Henry Vane of Raby Castle gifted a fire engine to the town in 1748: it was stored in the church for over 100 years!
The Durham Militia, too, who had garrisoned in Barnard Castle since 1759, found a home at St Mary’s, laying up their Colours here, and gathering for commemorations right up to the present-day Remembrance Sunday parades.
Across the 19th century St Mary’s church remodelled itself both inside and out to serve a growing community, with new gas-lighting and flooring, new stained glass and seating, and a new clock tower. St Mary’s established a new Parish Hall in 1957, in which an overflow of children from the nearby primary school were educated, and which enabled a multitude of community activities, social, religious, charitable and educational, which are still offered today.