To celebrate the re-opening of Auckland Castle on 2 November 2019, we’ve pulled together eight fascinating facts that you may not know about one of Europe's best-preserved bishops’ palaces... 

Jacob and his Twelve Sons by Francisco de Zurbarán inside Auckland Castle

Jacob and his Twelve Sons

Bishop Trevor purchased the paintings Jacob and his Twelve Sons by Francisco de Zurbarán, to hang in Auckland Castle. The paintings – one of the largest collections of Zurbaráns in the world – were sure to have impressed his guests, and will be back in the Long Dining Room when the castle re-opens. 

Engraving of Auckland Castle from 1728

1700s Auckland Castle

The 1700s was a significant time for Auckland Castle, with Bishop Barrington bringing about much of its current internal appearance towards the end of the century. The engraving above depicts Auckland Castle as it appeared in 1728, when William Talbot was bishop.

Bishop John Cosin

Bishop John Cosin

Bishop John Cosin recognised Auckland Castle as an important symbol of the Prince Bishops. Upon becoming Bishop of Durham in 1660, he remodelled the great hall as a new chapel, filling it with beautifully crafted furnishings and objects. 

The Throne room in Auckland Castle

The Bishop's Throne 

The centuries-old oak throne of the Bishop of Durham will be back in the Throne Room at Auckland Castle when it re-opens. The throne is attributed to architect, James Wyatt, who transformed the castle’s appearance for Bishop Barrington in the 1790s. 

Bishop Barrington

Bishop Barrington 

Bishop Shute Barrington hosted lavish events for the great and the good in order to impress, entertain, sway people. Abolitionist William Wilberforce went so far as to compare him to a sun at the centre of the solar system. 

A keen philanthropist, Bishop Barrington established several schools for members of the local community. This was long before school attendance became compulsory in 1880, and the Barrington School in Bishop Auckland is still open today.

The chapel inside Auckland Castle

St Peter's Chapel 

Bishop John Cosin created St Peter's Chapel in 1665 from the remains of the medieval great hall. The Chapel has been in continuous use as a place of worship ever since.

The past prince bishops of durham

The Prince Bishops of Durham 

The Prince Bishops of Durham were powerful men, second only to the English monarch. They had the power to raise an army, mint their own coins and levy taxes.

Each room inside Auckland Castle will tell the story of a different Prince Bishop: men of great power, who governed the North East of England.

To find out more about The Auckland Project click here >> 

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