Visitor information

Visitors are welcome to enjoy the beauty and history of our churches throughout the year. Come to explore the story of Barnard Castle, light a candle or pray, or just to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Important Information

The restrictions in place to help tackle the Coronavirus pandemic mean that the church is operating slightly differently at the moment. Before visiting please read our latest COVID-19 update and be sure to follow any government guidance that applies to you.

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How to find our churches

The Church of England actually serves the parish of Barnard Castle with Whorlton with two churches – both are called St Mary’s!

St Mary’s Barnard Castle is our historic church in the centre of Barnard Castle.

St Mary’s Whorlton is our sister church in the nearby village of Whorlton.

Both churches are well worth a visit, and whichever one you’re coming to, you can find all the details below. And whether you’re coming as a tourist, a pilgrim, or to attend one of our services, you can be assured of a warm and friendly welcome.

St Mary's Barnard Castle

Our historic church in the centre of Barnard Castle is open to visitors in daylight hours every day of the year. Our church was founded alongside the famous castle, and has served the townspeople for over 900 years. As well as being an active church today, there’s plenty to see for anyone interested in history!

St Mary’s Parish Church
Barnard Castle
County Durham
DL12 8NQ
01833 637018

St Mary's Whorlton

Our sister church in Whorlton is a delightful village church which was rebuilt in 1853. Access can be obtained through keyholders in the village. Feel free to contact us to arrange access.

St Mary’s Whorlton
Barnard Castle
DL12 8XF
01833 637018

Additional information

Who goes to your churches?

Our churches consist of different people from all ages and backgrounds and you can read what some members of our congregation have to say about their experiences of our churches by following this link. However, whoever you are, you are assured of a very warm welcome.

When should I arrive?

It’s probably best to turn up around 10 minutes before the start of the service, or 15-20 minutes for services which are likely to have a lot of people, such as christenings, weddings and carol services. For details of weekly service times in each church please see our What’s On calendar.

What should I wear?

Wear whatever you feel comfortable in. We accept people as they are and there is no need to dress up unless you want to.

What should I expect during a service?

Arriving – going anywhere for the first time can be a bit of a nerve-racking experience but please don’t worry about ‘doing things wrong’. We aren’t super-spiritual beings who will look down on you and we’ve all had a ‘first day’. We are a friendly bunch and will be only too pleased to help if you have any questions. You’ll be greeted on the door by someone from our welcoming team and then given all the books and information you need by one our sidespersons. People often use the time before a service to think or pray quietly, so if they’re not all talking to you this might be why.

During the service – normally services last up to an hour. There may be some variations in how we do things but generally you can expect a mixture of prayers, hymns or songs, readings from the Bible and a fairly short sermon.

Most services are modern and use the Common Worship book while others use traditional language and the Book of Common Prayer (usually at early morning Holy Communion). It may sometimes be necessary to flick backwards and forwards through service books but page numbers should be announced. If not, please just ask a nearby person.

We normally stand for hymns or songs and sit or kneel for most prayers. The service leader will normally direct you but, if not, just do whatever feels natural or follow the other people in the pews around you. We sit for the first Bible reading, which is often read by a member of the congregation, but stand for the Gospel reading, which is generally read by the person leading the service. We also stand when we say the Creed or Affirmation of Faith.

At some services we may ‘share the peace’. This just means shaking hands with people and saying ‘Peace be with you’. You can join in with this or not as you please. People may also use this time to say hello if you are new.

After the service – there is usually tea, coffee and biscuits available (for which there is no charge) after the main Sunday service. This is an opportunity to get to know people if you would like to. You will also find that the person who has led the service will be available to talk to, often standing by the door, or you can chat to the rest of the people in church.

Our hope is that whether you just want to visit us for a one-off service, are looking into Christianity for the first time, or have been a Christian for many years, you will be encouraged and inspired by your visit. We hope that everyone who comes through our doors will meet with God and feel welcome among us.

If you would like more information about what takes place in Anglican (Church of England) churches like ours please follow this link to “What to expect at an Anglican church“.

Can children attend your services?

Definitely! Children are very welcome at all of our services and, during our main Sunday service, there is usually a period of separate activities for them. You can learn more by following this link to our Junior Church page.

Of course it is also fine to keep your children with you during the service. Please don’t worry about them making noise or moving about – we certainly won’t – and the St Margaret chapel (on the left of the church in Barnard Castle) is a useful “bolt-hole” if your baby wants to shout!

Is church just about attending services?

Most definitely not! Our churches run various groups and there are also many social events going on around the parish which you can find out about here or from the church notice board or the sheet which is given out after services. There are also occasional series of meetings organised which provide an opportunity to learn more about Christianity in a relaxed and informal setting where no questions about our faith are off-limit.

Do you cater for those with disabilities?

We aim to be an all-inclusive church. If you wish to discuss specific needs please contact us. The church is accessible for those with disabilities with a fair amount of parking space available. Both the kitchen and toilets are accessible and we have a loop for the hearing impaired. Gluten free wafers are available for communicants. Our welcome team will, of course, help with any particular difficulties.

Still have questions?

If the information you are looking for isn’t there, please contact us with your query by email, phone or reach out on our Facebook group.