We arrived in Durham after a lengthy train delay. Our train left Waverly Station in Edinburgh at noon and we didn’t arrive in Durham until after 6:30. The emergency brakes malfunctioned and the train was stuck about an hour outside Edinburgh. Six trains behind us were also stuck because of our train. They finally sent a rescue train to pull us into Berwick, where we had to change trains and get on the next train behind us. Consequently, it was a mess, many of us had to stand all the way to Newcastle. The train proceeded to stop at every station until we finally reached Durham. A short taxi ride took us to our hotel, the Radisson Blu.
Durham is a university town and it was “freshers” week, when all the new students showed up for their first week of university. We enjoyed walking the town, visiting the cathedral, and shopping in Market Hall, the El Mercado of Durham. We had one of the best lunches so far at a local restaurant, Tapas Factory. The paella was excellent! Our waiter, Rodrigo was relieved when Buddy spoke to him in Spanish. The Radisson Blu was a nice hotel, but their food was mediocre at best.
I wanted to see several genealogy related sites and there wasn’t any bus service that would take us there, so we hired a driver one day to take us to Raby Castle, Brancepeth Castle, Horden, Harperley House, and Lumley Castle. Kenneth was a great guide and we hired him to drive us to Keswick the next day to avoid several train changes and we weren’t sure of the impact of the projected rail strike. It was money well spent. We got to enjoy the lovely views and he stopped once again at Raby Castle for a photo op. Someone must have notified the resident deer because they all showed up to have their photo taken! Raby Castle, with its 200-acre deer park, is near Staindrop in County Durham. It was built by my 23rd great grandfather, John Neville, 3rd Baron Neville de Raby between 1367 and 1390.
Raby Castle was closed for the season, but I got some good photos of the grounds. Brancepeth Castle was also closed and I took photos of the grounds and the churchyard, including a photo of the beautiful stained-glass window in the rear of the church. I was disappointed that the church was locked since I had read about some interesting artifacts displayed on the interior walls of the church and it was supposed to be the burial place of my ancestor, Ann Liddle, who died in 1595. Horden was a challenge to find. Our driver/guide called his wife, who worked nearby, and one of her co-workers directed us to the Horden Manor House. The Manor was being restored and it will be interesting to see the finished house. Horden Manor was the birthplace of my ancestor Christopher Conyers. We took a break at Lumley Castle for lunch before heading to Harperley to view Harperley House. According to the internet, Meryl Streep shares my Wilkinson ancestors, who were the owners of Harperley House. There was another Harperley Hall, the current site of the Police Academy training center. It was a much larger site, but security prevents anyone from visiting. I personally believe the internet may be wrong about the site of the Wilkinson family home. I suspect it is probably the Police Academy site, since that building is more in keeping with the wealth and status the Wilkinson family enjoyed.