Raby Castle has opened its gates for the 2024 season, and is showing off a previously hidden historic space.

The housekeeper’s sitting room has been given a new lease of life as a visitor welcome space.

A new introductory video will be projected onto its walls, detailing how the castle has developed through generations of Nevilles and Vanes, the two families to have owned Raby in its long history.

A delicate family tree mural has also been added to the room. Created by illustrator Lucy Roscoe, it shows two intertwining trees representing the Neville and Vane lines and highlights the individuals who owned the castle. Acorns and leaves represent the wives and children, and the motifs within the tree have been inspired by the archives and collections.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Housekeeper's Sitting Room at Raby Castle

The room was formerly used as the daily office space of Raby’s housekeeper, the highest-ranking female servant in the household and has been restored by Raby’s in-house team with specialist guidance from historic paint specialist Charles Hesp.

Julie Biddlecombe-Brown, curator at Raby Castle, near Staindrop, said: “Part of our inspiration for the housekeeper’s sitting room was Raby’s housekeeper from the early 20th Century, Mrs Millard, who we first encountered from details of her wages in the archives.

“One of her many responsibilities was to show important guests around while the family were away, and our new interpretation space will similarly introduce visitors to the history of the castle. The voiceover is a gentle reference to the story of Raby that would be told by the housekeeper to guests.”

Keys and personal effects, including a photograph of Mrs Millard herself, will also be on show.

The castle reopened last Friday. Its major new visitor experience, The Rising, which includes the remodelled Walled Garden is due to open this spring.