Auckland Castle

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Auckland Castle

County Durham

Auckland Castle Crop.jpg
Auckland Castle
Type: Manor house
Location: 54°39’59"N, 1°40’13"W
Website: Auckland Castle Trust

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. It has been a palace of the Bishops of Durham for 800 years.

The castle is owned by a trust for the Church of England for the service of the Diocese of Durham[1]

Auckland Castle was originally established as a hunting lodge.[2] 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 specifically Durham and Northumberland.[3]

In appearance more like a Gothic stately home than a mediæval fortification, Auckland Castle remains a working episcopal palace being the residence and official headquarters of the Bishop of Durham and the administrative offices of the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance.[4]

The Long Dining Room

The Long Dining Room[5] houses 12 of the 13 celebrated 17th-century paintings, by Francisco de Zurbarán, of Jacob and his twelve sons.[6] 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 £20 million in value, but relented after a review in 2010.[7][8]

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 Garnier Ruffer,[9][10] placing the paintings, along with the castle, under the Auckland Castle Trust.[11]

The Scotland Wing

The Scotland Wing is a long, narrow, three storey building leaning against the castle walls and which stands behind the main ceremonial rooms. Its origins and history are little known. Some early records show the Scotland Wing as being built in 1388 by Bishop Skirlaw but date it to around the 16th century, when Bishop Tunstall rebuilt it as a garden gallery.

Even the origin of the name 'Scotland Wing' is unknown; some suggest it was used to house Scottish reivers and raiders, which idea was taken up in The Legend of Scotland, a ghost story in the form of a poem which Lewis Carroll wrote for the daughters of Bishop Longley, who lived at Auckland Castle in the 1850s.

In the 1700s the Scotland Wing became a granaryand its third storey was added. In the Twentieth Century it was converted into offices. There are plans to convert it for an exhibition on the history of Auckland Castle.[12]

The Estate and buildings

The castle is surrounded by 800 acres of parkland, which was originally used by the bishops and their entourages for hunting and is today open to the public.[13]

The Castle and its grounds contain seven Grade I listed buildings:

The Deer House in Auckland Castle Park which was built in 1760, a large castellated-stone building to shelter the deer, which nowadays has a viewing room for visitors.


In around 1183, Bishop Hugh Pudsey established a manor house on the site.[21][22] 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.

After the abolition of the episcopacy by Parliament in 1646 at the end of the First English Civil War, Auckland Castle was sold to Sir Arthur Hazelrigg, who demolished much of the mediæval building, including the original two-storey chapel, and built a mansion.[23][24][25] After the Restoration of the Monarchy, the office of bishop returned, and the new Bishop of Durham, John Cosin, in turn demolished Hazelrigg's mansion and rebuilt the castle converting the banqueting hall into the chapel that stands today.[23][26]

In 1756 Bishop Richard Trevor bought a set of paintings of Jacob and his 12 sons painted 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[27] 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 in 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.[28][29]

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 William van Mildert, the last prince-bishop, gave over Durham Castle to found the University of Durham, and Auckland Castle became the sole episcopal seat of the See of Durham.

Notable structures

Image Name Listed Co-ordinates Notes Ref(s)
Auckland Castle 8.jpg Auckland Castle Grade I 54°39’59"N, 1°40’13"W Probably begun in the 12th century and completed in the 13th century; [14]
Auckland Castle 036.jpg West Mural Tower and West Walls Grade I 54°39’59"N, 1°40’21"W First wall built 14th century; [15]
Auckland Castle - Gatehouse.jpg Entrance Gateway Grade I 54°39’57"N, 1°40’16"W Built by Thomas Robinson in 1760 for Bishop Trevor; [16]
Auckland Castle - Chapel.jpg Chapel of St Peter Grade I 54°40’1"N, 1°40’12"W Built as Great Hall around 1190, completed 1249 and converted to Chapel 1661-65; [17]
Auckland Castle 6.jpg Screen Wall Grade I 54°39’58"N, 1°40’11"W Built by James Wyatt around 1795 for Bishop Barrington; [18]
Auckland Castle 013.jpg Deer Shelter Grade I 54°40’7"N, 1°39’60"W Built around 1760; [19]
Auckland Castle - Castle Lodge2.jpg Castle Lodge Grade I 54°39’56"N, 1°40’16"W Built 17th century; [20]
Auckland Castle - 11 Market Place.jpg 11 Market Place Grade II* 54°39’56"N, 1°40’17"W Built early 18th century; formerly known as 18 Castle Square; [30]
Auckland Castle 003.jpg 15 and 16 Market Place Grade II 54°39’57"N, 1°40’18"W 18th century Park Gatehouses; [31]
Auckland Castle 17 -18 Market Place.jpg 17 and 18 Market Place Grade II 54°39’57"N, 1°40’18"W Built early 18th century; [32]
Auckland Castle -12 Market Place.jpg 12 Market Place Grade II 54°39’56"N, 1°40’17"W Built early 18th century, previously known as 19 Castle Square; [33]
2 and 3 Castle Square Grade II 54°39’58"N, 1°40’17"W Mediæval use unknown; later Prebends' College, then carriage houses; [34]
Auckland Castle - Westcott Lodge.jpg Westcott Lodge Grade II 54°39’58"N, 1°40’17"W Built early-18th century; [35]
Six pillars;[36] Grade II 54°39’58"N, 1°40’20"W Possibly 17th century hayshed; [37]
Garden and Drive Walls Grade II 54°39’57"N, 1°40’12"W Built 18th and 19th century, railings added 19th century; [38]
Jock's Bridge.jpg Jock's Bridge Grade II 54°40’16"N, 1°40’10"W Built 1819, forms Park boundary wall; [39]
River Gaunless.jpg Trevor's Bridge Grade II 54°40’14"N, 1°40’4"W Built 1757; [40]
Auckland Castle - Ice House.jpg Ice House Grade II 54°40’15"N, 1°40’2"W Probably built late-18th century; [41]
Auckland Castle - Footbridge over Coundon Burn.jpg Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II 54°40’18"N, 1°40’1"W Built mid-18th century; [42]
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II 54°40’20"N, 1°39’50"W Built 1827; [43]
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II 54°40’17"N, 1°39’41"W Built 18th century; [44]
Auckland Castle - Well head.jpg Well Head Grade II 54°40’21"N, 1°39’32"W 2m high pyramid, part of 18th century water supply to Castle; [45]
Cistern Grade II 54°40’22"N, 1°39’24"W Part of 18th century water supply to Castle; [46]
Milestone on Castle Drive Grade II 54°40’26"N, 1°39’23"W 18th century; [47]
Park Head Gates-by-peter-robinson.jpg Park Gates and Screen Wall Grade II 54°40’27"N, 1°38’38"W Built late 18th century; [48]
Lodge Farmhouse Grade II 54°40’37"N, 1°39’49"W Built 1779 for Prince-Bishop Egerton; [49]
Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse Grade II 54°40’37"N, 1°39’50"W Built 1779; [50]
Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse Grade II 54°40’37"N, 1°39’48"W Built 1779. [51]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Auckland Castle)


  1. Castle History. Auckland Castle. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-25 
  4. Diocese of Durham
  5. The Long Dining Room at Auckland Castle
  8. Church of England (2005-09-29). "Church Commissioners vote to keep the Zurbaráns". Press release. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  9. Jonathan Garnier Ruffer bio at Debrett's People of Today
  11. BBC (2011-03-31). "Francisco Zurbarán paintings saved by £15m donation". Press release. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  12. Scotland Wing, Auckland Castle
  13. Hutchinson, p.20
  14. 14.0 14.1 National Heritage List 1196444: Auckland Castle
  15. 15.0 15.1 National Heritage List 1196445: Auckland Castle West Mural Wall
  16. 16.0 16.1 National Heritage List 1297645: Auckland Castle Gatehouse
  17. 17.0 17.1 National Heritage List 1196446: Auckland Castle Chapel of St Peter
  18. 18.0 18.1 National Heritage List 1196448: Auckland Castle Screen Wall
  19. 19.0 19.1 National Heritage List 1297608: Auckland Castle Deer Shelter
  20. 20.0 20.1 National Heritage List 1297529: Auckland Castle Lodge
  21. Simpson, David. "The North East England History Pages - Bishop Auckland and Surrounds". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-01 
  22. Hutchinson, p.14
  23. 23.0 23.1 Lightfoot, Joseph Barber (1892). Leaders in the Northern Church: Sermons Preached in the Diocese of Durham. Macmillan. pp. 140 
  24. Dodds, Glen Lyndon (1996). Historic Sites of County Durham. Albion,. pp. 16. ISBN 978-0-9525122-5-7 
  25. Whellan, p.279
  26. Fordyce, p.548
  28. 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.,,1586992,00.html. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  29. "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. 
  30. National Heritage List 1196607: Market Place
  31. {IoE|385708|15-16 Market Place}}
  32. National Heritage List 1217931: 17-18 Market Place
  33. National Heritage List 1217902: 12 Market Place
  34. National Heritage List 1297646: Potting shed and garages west of Auckland Castle
  35. National Heritage List 1217919: Westcott Lodge
  36. Six pillars east of west wall - British Listed Buildings
  37. National Heritage List 1196447: Six Pillars 3m East of West Wall
  38. National Heritage List 1297647: Garden and Drive Walls
  39. National Heritage List 1208804: Jock's Bridge
  40. National Heritage List 1196449: Drive bridge over River Gaunless
  41. National Heritage List 1196451: Ice House to the South of Coundon Burn
  42. National Heritage List 1297609: Footbridge over Coundon Burn
  43. National Heritage List 1292957: Footbridge over Coundon Burn
  44. National Heritage List 1292964: Footbridge over Coundon Burn
  45. National Heritage List 1297610: Well head at NZ22135389 in High Park
  46. National Heritage List 1196450: Cistern at NZ22215390
  47. National Heritage List 1208844: Milestone on Castle Drive
  48. National Heritage List 1196455: Park Gates and Screen Wall
  49. National Heritage List 1292912: Lodge Farmhouse
  50. National Heritage List 1297611: Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse
  51. National Heritage List 1208935: Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse


Further reading

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