TODAY, Staindrop’s broad village green is crowded with so many mature trees in full leaf that it is impossible to get a panoramic view of the buildings.

But in the past, the green was bare, a part from a few scratty chickens, and every property was revealed, as our picture a couple of weeks ago showed.

We thought that photo was taken in the 1880s, but now it seems it is much earlier.

“Staindrop hasn’t changed much at all over the last two-and-a-half centuries, other than shop fronts, but what caught my eye in your picture was that I could see the Raby Buck Inn,” says Jim Pearson, of Staindrop History Society, who has written a booklet entitled The Lost Inns of Staindrop. “It was demolished 150 years ago, probably in 1867, and I never thought I would see what it looked like.”

So our picture shows Staindrop in or before 1867 – extremely early.

The Northern Echo: EARLY PICTURE: Staindrop North Green in 1867. More details in the article.

Staindrop North Green in 1867, or before. From the left, Ebor House, then the blacksmith's house with a single storey smithy beside it, then Ormuz House, which was occupied by Dr James Trotter, surgeon to the Durham Militia when the picture was taken. Today, on the cornerstones, there is a strange array of faded, painted capital letters which may spell out "Ormuz Restaurant". Next comes a lower cottage which was the premise of Thomas Coates, tailor and draper. The tall building is Masham House, one of Staindrop's eight or nine lost inns, and then comes the Raby Buck Inn. The dark alley is Queen's Head Wynd, with the Queen's Head Inn on the opposite side. The Queen's was Staindrop's principal coaching inn until it closed in the 1890s

The Raby Buck is the low building seventh from the left hand side beside a dark alley, which is Queen’s Head Wynd.

The inn’s name came from one of Teesdale’s most celebrated stories. By tradition, the lord of Raby had to pay £4-a-year to the Prior of Durham for the rent of Staindropshire. This money was handed over on St Cuthbert’s Day (March 20) along with a male deer – a buck. The unfortunate buck was then slaughtered and prior, lord and monks feasted royally.

But in 1290, Ralph, Lord Nevill, of Raby Castle fell out with the prior who refused to accept the buck. This meant the annual feast was off.

Ralph decided to force the prior to accept the buck and so marched on Durham with a contingent of Teesdale men blowing on trumpets.

When they reached the cathedral, they found the monks deep in prayer and in no mood for reconciliation. Indeed, the monks attacked the Teesdalers with candlesticks and wax tapers, driving them out onto Palace Green – but leaving behind the buck in their hurry.

In Staindrop, the Raby Buck Inn, named after this curious event, made way for a Congregational chapel, which was completed in 1868. The chapel stood until the mid-1970s when it, in turn, was demolished and replaced with a mock-Georgian, three-storey townhouse.

Our early picture comes from the Maddison archive, an album of photos put together by a family of Teesdale and Weardale quarryowners which has been kindly lent to use by Doreen and Geoff Spence, of Darlington.

* Jim Pearson’s 11 booklets about the history of Staindrop are available for £2 each from the Wheatsheaf Inn – the village’s one remaining pub. His latest titles are The Rebels of Staindrop, The Shoemakers & Shopkeepers of Staindrop, The Tailors & Dressmakers of Staindrop, and The Farmers & Farm Workers of Staindrop.