Barnard Castle, a market-town in the Barnard Castle parliamentary division of Durham, England, 17 m. W. of Darlington by a branch of the North Eastern railway. Pop. of urban district (1901) 4421. It is beautifully situated on the steep left bank of the Tees. A noteworthy building in the town is the octagonal town-hall, dating from 1747. There are a few picturesque old houses, and a fragment of an Augustinian convent. St Mary's church, in a variety of styles from Norman onward, contains some curious monuments; but the building of chief interest is the castle, which gives the town its name, and is the principal scene of Sir Walter Scott's Rokeby. The remains extend over a space of more than six acres. A remarkable building known as the Bowes' Mansion and Museum, bequeathed in 1874 to the town by a descendant of Sir George Bowes, contains a valuable collection of works of art. In the vicinity of the town are Egglestone Abbey, beautifully situated on the Yorkshire bank of the river, Rokeby Park on the same bank, at the confluence of the Greta, and the massive 14th century castle of Raby to the north-east. The principal manufacture is shoe-thread. The corn-market is important.
As part of the lordship of Gainford, Barnard Castle is said to have been granted by William Rufus to Guy Baliol Bernard, son of Guy Baliol, who built the castle, and called it after himself, Castle Bernard. To the men of the town which grew up outside the castle walls he gave, about the middle of the 12th century, a charter making them burgesses and granting them the same privileges as the town of Richmond in Yorkshire. This charter was confirmed by Bernard Baliol, son of the above Bernard. Other confirmation charters were granted to the town by Hugh, John, and Alexander Baliol. The castle and lordship remained in the hands of the Baliols until John Baliol, king of Scotland, forfeited them with his other English estates in 1296. Barnard Castle was then seized by Anthony, bishop of Durham, as being within his palatinate of Durham. Edward I., however, denied the bishop's rights and granted the castle and town to Guy Beauchamp, earl of Warwick, whose descendants continued to hold them until they passed to the crown by the marriage of Anne Nevill with Richard III., then duke of Gloucester. In 1630 Barnard Castle was sold to Sir Henry Vane, and in the same year the castle is said to have been unroofed and dismantled for the sake of the materials of which it was built.
Tanning leather was formerly one of the chief industries of the town. In 1614 an act for "knights and burgesses to have place in parliament for the county palatine and city of Durham and borough of Barnard Castle" was brought into the House of Commons, but when the act was finally passed for the county and city of Durham, Barnard Castle was not included.