THERE was a huge turn-out in Scarth Hall in Staindrop when this 300-plus page book had its official launch this month.

After he retired as headteacher of Staindrop school, John Broumley devoted his time to compiling a history of the village, several copies of which were typed up in 1957 and distributed.

Seventy years later, those copies are extremely dog-eared and so the history society, principally Jennifer Priestley and Hylene Bowman, have spent a couple of years getting the hugely valuable original into print.

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It is packed full of great stories, right up to the introduction of buses to the dale inbetween the wars. There’s also a much older spat between the lord of Raby, who had to pay £4-a-year rent to the Prior of Durham for Staindropshire. A custom grew up that the lord also presented a buck – a male deer – to the monks on St Cuthbert’s Day. The presentation was followed by great feasting, with the monks liberally refreshing all who had carried the buck from Staindrop.

But in 1290, Ralph, Lord Nevill, demanded that he should be able to bring along a mob of friends to be entertained at the Prior’s expense. The Prior refused and ordered his men not to accept the Raby buck.

Ralph, though, was not to be denied his feast, and with his large trumpet-blowing retinue, he marched on Durham, bearing the buck. They found the monks at prayer in the cathedral and violently tried to force them to accept the gift.

“The monks defended themselves with vigour,” writes Broumley, “and retaliated by belabouring their attackers with the huge altar candlesticks and the great wax tapers they were carrying. These were used to such good purpose that they beat off Lord Ralph’s men who had to retreat, leaving behind the buck.”

The hefty book is £19.50. It is available from Staindrop Post Office, and it will be in the Raby Castle shop when it reopens for Christmas. Or call 01833-660428 or 01833-660323.