TODAY’S Object of the Week is actually a series of objects which can be found at different locations in a County Durham town.

If you’ve ever wandered through the historic streets of Barnard Castle with open eyes, you just might have come across a mysterious carving of a boar.

There might have been many more at one time, but today there are thought to be four still in the town.

They are located at: The castle; Blagraves House – which dates back to the 15th century and is one of the oldest buildings in town; St Mary’s Church; Bowes Museum (originally in Newgate).

The origin of the boars dates back nearly 600 years into the 15th century and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, more commonly known as the King in the carpark or King Richard III – whose emblem was … a white boar.

Barnard Castle, named after its founder Bernard de Balloil, was built in the 12th century.

After a few swaps of ownership, the castle fell into the possession of Richard Neville.

In 1475 though, his time was up, and the castle passed to his son-in-law – Richard of Gloucester.

Before he became King Richard III, he spent a considerable amount of time in his new castle and ordered several improvements to be made both in the castle and in St Mary’s Church.

He took a special interest in the church and spent considerable time and money on making his mark.

His changes lifted the church – literally – creating a much brighter, raised building.

He also added decoration to the north door, which was looking a bit sorry compared to the fancier south door. New windows, ornamental arches and a stone carving of himself are more evidence of his unlimited generosity that can still been seen today – if you know where to look.

By the end of Richard’s rule the church had became the beautiful structure it is today.

Richard didn’t intend to stop there. He also had plans to build a chantry and an ecclesiastical college, which would have lifted the profile of St Mary’s further – but his early death in 1485 marked the end of his vision.

Richard’s demise at Bosworth brought about big changes for the country and who knows what Barnard Castle and St Mary’s would be like today, had he won the battle?

And so, the boar carvings scattered around town are a small reminder of what could have been, and the white boar that proudly sits in the town’s coat of arms marks the impact of Richard’s grand legacy.

* Thanks to St Mary’s Parish Church for their help in compiling the article.

As part of the Windows to the World project, St Mary’s Parish Church formed a group of interested volunteers to create 3D models of the boars.

To see the 3D models, and more information on the boar carvings – including a ‘the trail of the boar’ – visit the church website at