Along with Middleton-In-Teesdale, Barnard Castle is one of the two principal towns in beautiful Teesdale. Whilst being a local shopping centre; it also is home to one of the most fantastic ruined castle Barnard Castle and the even more magnificent Bowes Museum with its magical silver swan.
More modest in scope though none the less beautiful fo it is the famous octagonal Market Cross which was gifted to the town in 1747 by Thomas Breaks which replaced an old tollbooth further up the Market Place.
These days you have to pick your moments to get up close and personal with the Butter Mart as is is in effect a large roundabout and the meeting point for several busy roads. Though the impressive columns are now open, in the old days there were also railings and shutters that went around the perimeter and back then the veranda was a market for butter and and other dairy products. The inner structure also served as the town jail whilst upstairs was an administrative office for the town.
Charles Dickens stayed a few doors up the road whilst researching his novel Nicholas Nickleby; it is to be hoped that he fared better than John Wesley who was blasted by the town fire-engine hose when he came to preach.
In the 18th century the lord of the manor gave the town a fire-engine which was used to deluge John Wesley while on a preaching visit to the town. There is still a working fireball attached inside the structure.
One of the most interesting and yet tiniest bits of history of the old Buttermarket is in the weather vane which sits atop, moving with the wind.
Sometime during 1803 an argument between a volunteer soldier from Barnard Castle called Taylor, and a gamekeeper called Cruddas who worked for the earl of Strathmore at Streatlam Castle) broke out over who was the better shot.
The men took their guns and made a bet to find out who was the better and the innocent weather vane on top of the market cross was chosen as the target.
Standing around 100 yards away outside the Turks Head Inn both men took turns to fire off a shot. You can see from the photo below that they were both excellent shots!