Positioned high above the meandering River Wear, Auckland Castle was once home to the Prince Bishops of Durham, and was the place where they entertained, hunted and worshipped.
These were incredibly powerful men. They were given exceptional powers by the Norman kings of England, as well as the Church, and governed vast swathes of North East England.
Auckland Castle was built to host lavish medieval celebrations and hunting parties, to entertain royalty and impress visitors with the bishops’ power and wealth. From Bishop Auckland, the Prince Bishops ventured forth to broker royal marriages, lead armies into battle and advise kings.
Over the centuries, the Prince Bishops became increasingly wealthy. They used this money to transform the castle into a palace that showed off their high status. St Peter’s Chapel is the perfect example: Bishop Cosin turned the medieval Great Hall into the largest private chapel in Europe, a beautiful space to inspire people to feel the glory of God.
Art and Architecture
The Castle was transformed once again in the 1790s, when Bishop Barrington commissioned the renowned English architect James Wyatt to create a succession of magnificent state rooms.
These rooms contained delicate plasterwork and sumptuous furnishings in the fashionable Gothic style.
Among the finest surviving examples of Wyatt’s work in the country, they form a grand processional route through the Castle to the Throne Room.
These interiors have been conserved and visitors will be able to marvel at Wyatt’s original scheme as they explore the Castle.
Are you intrigued?
You can find hundreds of years of hidden history within these walls. When the Castle re-opens on Saturday, 2 November 2019, come and walk these northern corridors of power and let the Prince Bishops tell you their stories.
The Castle is also home to another family of well-known residents. Jacob and his Twelve Sons, an impressive series of paintings by the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, have hung in the Long Dining Room since they were purchased by Bishop Trevor in 1756.
Bishop Trevor Gallery
The Bishop Trevor Gallery is named after Richard Trevor, who was Bishop of Durham from 1752 to 1771. Bishop Trevor played an important role in the story of Auckland Castle, having purchased the series of paintings of Jacob and his Twelve Sons by Francisco de Zurbarán, which have hung in the Long Dining Room at the Castle for over 250 years.
The new gallery is housed in a series of rooms that were once Bishop Trevor’s private apartments. Designed by John Carr (1723 – 1807), who was one of the most renowned architects of the day, they were originally known as the North Apartments and look out across the River Wear in the valley below.
The gallery will house a programme of special exhibitions of fine art, with a focus on European painting from the medieval period to the present day. The displays will include masterpieces on loan from private collections and institutions.
|Ticket Type||Ticket Tariff|
|Adult||£10.00 per ticket type|
|Adult - Auckland Pass||£12.50 per ticket type|
|Child under 16yrs||£3.00 per ticket type|
|Child under 16yrs - Auckland Pass||£3.00 per ticket type|
|Concession||£8.00 per ticket type|
|Concession - Auckland Pass||£10.50 per ticket type|
|Family 2 adults + up to 3 children - Auckland Pass||£28.00 per ticket type|
Tickets will go on sale midday 11th September, with pre-booking initially available to March 2020. Ticket price includes admission to the Bishop Trevor Gallery, a temporary exhibition space within Auckland Castle, which opened in June 2019 and had previously being running on a standalone ticket.
The Auckland Pass includes entry to the Mining Art Gallery and Auckland Tower as well as Auckland Castle and the Bishop Trevor Gallery..
|2019 (2 Nov 2019 - 31 Dec 2019)|
|Wednesday - Sunday||10:00||- 16:00|
* Auckland Castle will re-open to the public with a Community Day from 10.30am to 4pm on Saturday, 2 November 2019. General admission begins at 10am on Sunday, 3 November 2019. Opening hours thereafter will be Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm.
The Castle will be closed for Christmas from 23 to 26 December and from 30 December to 1 January inclusive.
The Auckland Project visitor destination, including Auckland Castle, will close from 6 January 2020 to 14 February 2020 inclusive, as part of a programme of conservation and Curatorial development, which runs annually across the site.