Thomas Breaks gift to the town

Barnard Castle Life - Picture of the Market Cross taken from down the bank

At the head of the bank is a truly original sight and one of Barnard Castles iconic images, the octagonal 'Market Cross' a gift to the town from Thomas Breaks built in 1747.

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Known affectionately in its alter ego as the 'Butter Mart' it suffers from the modern scourge of traffic as it now reluctantly accepts its role as roundabout.

Dividing the Market Place from the Bank is the Market Cross. This built by Thomas Breaks in 1747 to replace the old tollbooth which stood at the farther end of the Market Place. It is octagonal in shape, surmounted by a bell-turret terminating in a weather-vane.

Round the base is a series of Boric columns forming a veranda. This is now open to view no doubt to improve the view of modern day traffic but previously had been closed in by wooden shutters, prior to that the veranda had iron railings.

The veranda was the market for butter and dairy produce. Inside the heavy piers supporting the upper structure were enclosed to form a jail.

Stairs lend up to the hall where the town records were kept and administrative work performed. On the wall is a coloured armorial with the arms of the second Lord Barnard.

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.

While the lower level is open to the public the upper level is now locked and used as a store room. It also still has a working fire bell last rung during the funeral of a local fireman.

Two holes in the vane were pierced by bullets fired in response to a challenge in 1804. by 'two local marksmen from the door of the Turk's Head, a range of 100 yards.

Barnard Castle Life - picture of the weathervane showing 2 holes as a result of a shooting competition


The story has it that during the Napoleonic wars an invasion by Napoleon was feared at the coast so the Teesdale Legion of Volunteers was garrisoned in the town.

Sometime during 1803 an argument between a volunteer soldier (a man from the town 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 outside the Turks Head Inn both men took turns to fire off a shot, if you look at the picture I think you can safely say each man was as good as the other.

Picture of the Market Cross taken from down the bank


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