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Auckland Castle, also known as Auckland Palace and locally as the Bishop's Castle or Bishop's Palace, is located in Bishop Auckland, its neighbouring town in County Durham, England.

Auckland Castle
Auckland Castle
Auckland Castle is located in County Durham
Auckland Castle
Location within County Durham
Alternative namesAuckland Palace,
Bishop's Palace,
Bishop's Castle
General information
TypeManor house
Architectural styleNeo-Gothic
AddressAuckland Castle,
Bishop Auckland,
Co. Durham DL14 7NR
Coordinates54°39′59″N 1°40′13″W / 54.6664°N 1.6702°W / 54.6664; -1.6702Coordinates: 54°39′59″N 1°40′13″W / 54.6664°N 1.6702°W / 54.6664; -1.6702
OwnerAuckland Castle Trust [1]

Built by the Church of England for the prince-bishop of Durham[2] for more than 800 years, Auckland Castle was originally established as a hunting lodge.[3] The principal seat of the Bishops of Durham from 1832, it was transferred in July 2012 to the Auckland Castle Trust, a charitable foundation to restore both the castle and grounds and also establish permanent exhibitions on the history of Christianity in Britain and the North East.[4]

In appearance more like a Gothic stately home than a medieval fortification, Auckland Castle remains a working episcopal palace being the residence and official headquarters of the Bishop of Durham and its Scotland Wing.[5] It currently serves as the administrative offices of the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance.[6]

Its Long Dining Room[7] houses 12 of the 13 celebrated 17th-century paintings in the series Jacob and his twelve sons, by Francisco de Zurbarán, depicting Jacob and his 12 sons.[8] These paintings have hung for 250 years in this room specifically designed and constructed for them. In 2001 the Church Commissioners voted to sell the works of art, then estimated at £20m in value, but relented after a review in 2010.[9][10]

On 31 March 2011 the Church Commissioners announced that plans to sell off the paintings were shelved following a donation of £15 million from investment manager Jonathan Ruffer,[11][12] placing the paintings, along with the castle, under the Auckland Castle Trust.[13]

The castle is surrounded by 800 acres (3.2 km2) of parkland, which was originally used by the bishops and their entourages for hunting and is today open to the public.[14] The Castle and its grounds contain seven Grade I listed buildings.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] These include a Deer House in Auckland Castle Park which was built in 1760, a large castellated-stone building to shelter the deer, with picnic grounds and rooms to enjoy the view.[22]



In around 1183 Bishop Hugh Pudsey established a manor house on the site.[23][24] Bishop Beck, who relocated his main residence from Durham Castle to Auckland due to its proximity to his hunting estate, later converted the manor house into a castle.

Anne of Denmark and her children stayed in the castle on their way to London on 9 June 1603.[25] After the disestablishment of the Church of England at the end of the First English Civil War in 1646, Auckland Castle was sold to Sir Arthur Hazelrigg, who demolished much of the medieval building, including the original two-storey chapel, and built a mansion.[26][27][28] After the Restoration of the Monarchy, Prince-Bishop John Cosin, in turn demolished Hazelrigg's mansion and rebuilt the castle converting the banqueting hall into the chapel that stands today.[26][29]

In 1756 Bishop Richard Trevor bought the notable set of paintings, Jacob and his twelve sons, by Francisco de Zurbarán which still hang in the Long Dining Room. It is possible that the seventeenth century paintings were intended for South America. However they never reached their supposed destination, eventually coming into the possession of James Mendez[30] who sold twelve of the thirteen to Dr. Trevor for £125 in 1756.

Bishop Trevor was unable to secure the 13th portrait, Benjamin which was sold separately to the Duke of Ancaster and hangs in Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire. Bishop Trevor commissioned Arthur Pond to produce a copy painting of "Benjamin". The copy, together with the 12 originals, hang in the castle's Long Dining Room, which Bishop Trevor had redesigned especially to take the pictures.[31][32]

Shute Barrington, Bishop of Durham from 1791 to 1826, employed the eminent architect James Wyatt to match the disparate architecture of the palace in the late 18th century, including its Throne Room and Garden Screen. In 1832, when William van Mildert, the last prince-bishop, gave over Durham Castle to found Durham University, Auckland Castle became the sole episcopal seat of the See of Durham.


Auckland Castle hosted two episodes of BBC's Antiques Roadshow in 2006. It also provides the setting for Lewis Carroll's story "A Legend of Scotland". Its Scotland Wing is so named from its historical accommodation of Scots prisoners.

From 2013, a 15th-century bed owned by Henry VII was put on display at the castle.[33]

Notable structuresEdit

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX
Image Name Listed Co-ordinates Notes Ref(s)
  Auckland Castle Grade I 54°39′59″N 1°40′13″W / 54.6664°N 1.6702°W / 54.6664; -1.6702 (Auckland Castle) Probably begun in the 12th century and completed in the 13th century; [15]
  West Mural Tower and West Walls Grade I 54°39′59″N 1°40′21″W / 54.6663°N 1.6725°W / 54.6663; -1.6725 (West Mural Tower and West Walls) First wall built 14th century; [16]
  Entrance Gateway Grade I 54°39′57″N 1°40′16″W / 54.6657°N 1.6712°W / 54.6657; -1.6712 (Gatehouse) Built by Thomas Robinson in 1760 for Prince-Bishop Trevor; [17]
  Chapel of St Peter Grade I 54°40′01″N 1°40′12″W / 54.6669°N 1.6699°W / 54.6669; -1.6699 (Chapel of St Peter) Built as Great Hall around 1190, completed 1249 and converted to Chapel 1661-65; [18]
  Screen Wall Grade I 54°39′58″N 1°40′11″W / 54.6662°N 1.6698°W / 54.6662; -1.6698 (Screen wall) Built by James Wyatt around 1795 for Prince-Bishop Barrington; [19]
  Deer Shelter Grade I 54°40′07″N 1°40′00″W / 54.6686°N 1.6666°W / 54.6686; -1.6666 (Deer Shelter) Built around 1760; [20]
  Castle Lodge Grade I 54°39′56″N 1°40′16″W / 54.6656°N 1.6710°W / 54.6656; -1.6710 (Castle Lodge) Built 17th century; [21]
  11 Market Place Grade II* 54°39′56″N 1°40′17″W / 54.6655°N 1.6715°W / 54.6655; -1.6715 (11 Market Place) Built early 18th century; formerly known as 18 Castle Square; [34]
  15 and 16 Market Place Grade II 54°39′57″N 1°40′18″W / 54.6658°N 1.6716°W / 54.6658; -1.6716 (Park gate-houses) 18th century Park Gatehouses; [35]
  17 and 18 Market Place Grade II 54°39′57″N 1°40′18″W / 54.6658°N 1.6718°W / 54.6658; -1.6718 (17-18 Market Place) Built early 18th century; [36]
  12 Market Place Grade II 54°39′56″N 1°40′17″W / 54.6656°N 1.6713°W / 54.6656; -1.6713 (12 Market Place) Built early 18th century, previously known as 19 Castle Square; [37]
2 and 3 Castle Square Grade II 54°39′58″N 1°40′17″W / 54.6662°N 1.6715°W / 54.6662; -1.6715 (2 and 3 Castle Square) Medieval use unknown; later Prebends' College, then carriage houses; [38]
  Westcott Lodge Grade II 54°39′58″N 1°40′17″W / 54.6660°N 1.6713°W / 54.6660; -1.6713 (Westcott Lodge) Built early-18th century; [39]
Six pillars;[40] Grade II 54°39′58″N 1°40′20″W / 54.6662°N 1.6723°W / 54.6662; -1.6723 (Six Pillars) Possibly 17th century hayshed; [41]
Garden and Drive Walls Grade II 54°39′57″N 1°40′12″W / 54.6658°N 1.6701°W / 54.6658; -1.6701 (Garden and Drive Walls) Built 18th and 19th century, railings added 19th century; [42]
  Jock's Bridge Grade II 54°40′16″N 1°40′10″W / 54.6710°N 1.6694°W / 54.6710; -1.6694 (Jock's Bridge) Built 1819, forms Park boundary wall; [43]
  Trevor's Bridge Grade II 54°40′14″N 1°40′04″W / 54.6706°N 1.6679°W / 54.6706; -1.6679 (Trevor's Bridge) Built 1757; [44]
  Ice House Grade II 54°40′15″N 1°40′02″W / 54.6707°N 1.6672°W / 54.6707; -1.6672 (Ice House) Probably built late-18th century; [45]
  Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II 54°40′18″N 1°40′01″W / 54.6717°N 1.6670°W / 54.6717; -1.6670 (Footbridge over Coundon Burn) Built mid-18th century; [46]
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II 54°40′20″N 1°39′50″W / 54.6721°N 1.6639°W / 54.6721; -1.6639 (Footbridge over Coundon Burn) Built 1827; [47]
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II 54°40′17″N 1°39′41″W / 54.6714°N 1.6614°W / 54.6714; -1.6614 (Footbridge over Coundon Burn) Built 18th century; [48]
  Well Head Grade II 54°40′21″N 1°39′32″W / 54.6724°N 1.6588°W / 54.6724; -1.6588 (Well head) 2m high pyramid, part of 18th century water supply to Castle; [49][50]
Cistern Grade II 54°40′22″N 1°39′24″W / 54.6727°N 1.6567°W / 54.6727; -1.6567 (Cistern) Part of 18th century water supply to Castle; [51][52]
Milestone on Castle Drive Grade II 54°40′26″N 1°39′23″W / 54.6740°N 1.6565°W / 54.6740; -1.6565 (Milestone on Castle Drive) 18th century; [53]
  Park Gates and Screen Wall Grade II 54°40′27″N 1°38′38″W / 54.6741°N 1.6439°W / 54.6741; -1.6439 (Park Gates and Screen Wall) Built late 18th century; [54]
Lodge Farmhouse Grade II 54°40′37″N 1°39′49″W / 54.6770°N 1.6635°W / 54.6770; -1.6635 (Lodge Farmhouse) Built 1779 for Prince-Bishop Egerton; [55]
Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse Grade II 54°40′37″N 1°39′50″W / 54.6770°N 1.6638°W / 54.6770; -1.6638 (Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse) Built 1779; [56]
Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse Grade II 54°40′37″N 1°39′48″W / 54.6769°N 1.6632°W / 54.6769; -1.6632 (Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse) Built 1779. [57]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Castle History". Auckland Castle. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Scotland Wing, Auckland Castle". Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  6. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "The Long Dining Room at Auckland Castle". Archived from the original on 2014-12-24. Retrieved 2014-12-10.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Church Commissioners vote to keep the Zurbaráns" (Press release). Church of England. 2005-09-29. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  11. ^ Jonathan Garnier Ruffer bio at Debrett's People of Today Archived 2015-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Francisco Zurbarán paintings saved by £15m donation" (Press release). BBC. 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  14. ^ Hutchinson, p.20
  15. ^ a b "Auckland Castle". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  16. ^ a b "Auckland Castle West Mural Wall". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  17. ^ a b "Auckland Castle Gatehouse". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  18. ^ a b "Auckland Castle Chapel of St Peter". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  19. ^ a b "Auckland Castle Screen Wall". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  20. ^ a b "Auckland Castle Deer Shelter". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  21. ^ a b "Auckland Castle Lodge". Retrieved 2008-08-25.
  22. ^
  23. ^ Simpson, David. "The North East England History Pages - Bishop Auckland and Surrounds". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
  24. ^ Hutchinson, p.14
  25. ^ HMC Salisbury Hatfield, vol. 15 (London, 1930), p. 126.
  26. ^ a b Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1892). "Leaders in the Northern Church: Sermons Preached in the Diocese of Durham". Macmillan: 140.
  27. ^ Dodds, Glen Lyndon (1996). Historic Sites of County Durham. Albion. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-9525122-5-7.
  28. ^ Whellan, p.279
  29. ^ Fordyce, p.548
  30. ^
  31. ^ Jenkins, Simon (2005-10-07). "London should keep its hands off the treasures of the north". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  32. ^ "Bid to keep castle paintings in N-E". The Northern Echo. 2001-05-14. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-21.
  33. ^ "Henry VII bed to go on display at Auckland Castle". Northern Echo.
  34. ^ "11 Market Place". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  35. ^ "15-16 Market Place". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  36. ^ "17-18 Market Place". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  37. ^ "12 Market Place". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  38. ^ "Potting shed and garages west of Auckland Castle". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  39. ^ "Westcott Lodge". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  40. ^
  41. ^ "Six Pillars 3m East of West Wall". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  42. ^ "Garden and Drive Walls". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  43. ^ "Jock's Bridge". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  44. ^ "Drive bridge over River Gaunless". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  45. ^ "Ice House to the South of Coundon Burn". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  46. ^ "Footbridge over Coundon Burn". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  47. ^ "Footbridge over Coundon Burn". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  48. ^ "Footbridge over Coundon Burn". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  49. ^ "Well head at nz 2213 5389 in high park". Keys to the Past. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  50. ^ "Well head at nz 2213 5389 in high park". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  51. ^ "Cistern at nz 2221 5390". Keys to the Past. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  52. ^ "Cistern at nz 2221 5390". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  53. ^ "Milestone on Castle Drive". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  54. ^ "Park Gates and Screen Wall". Retrieved 2009-08-22.
  55. ^ "Lodge Farmhouse". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  56. ^ "Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  57. ^ "Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse". Retrieved 2009-08-28.


Further readingEdit

  • Raine, James (1852). "A brief historical account of the episcopal castle, or palace, of Auckland". George Andrews.

External linksEdit