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Auckland Castle

A manor house and hunting lodge constructed by Bishop Pudsey around 1183 AD. A hundred years later Bishop Bek converted the manor house into a castle, and it became the seat of power for the Prince Bishop, to whom the king give the right to raise taxes, mint coins and raise his own army. In the 17th Century Bishop Cosin made substantial renovations to the castle, which remain today.  Auckland Castle was the official residence of the Bishops of Durham from 1832 until 2012, when it was transferred to the Auckland Castle Trust, founded to restore the grounds and castle and provide exhibitions on the history of Christianity in Britain. The Castle is a Grade I Listed building on the National Heritage List for England.

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.

Owned by the Church of England for the prince-bishopric of Durham for more than 800 years, Auckland Castle was originally established as a hunting lodge. 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.

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. It currently serves as the administrative offices of the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance.

Its Long Dining Room houses 12 of the 13 celebrated 17th-century paintings, by Francisco de Zurbarán, of Jacob and his 12 sons. 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.

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, placing the paintings, along with the castle, under the Auckland Castle Trust.

The castle is surrounded by of parkland, which was originally used by the bishops and their entourages for hunting and is today open to the public. The Castle and its grounds contain seven Grade I listed buildings. These include a 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. 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 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. 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.

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 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.

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.

Text from Wikipedia, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License (accessed: 28/06/2016).
Visit the page: Auckland Castle for references and further details. You can contribute to this article on Wikipedia.

Google Photosphere - includes views inside the castle

Bishop Auckland Prince Bishops of Durham Antony Bek (~1245-1311) Middle Ages (1154 to 1485 AD) Historic Buildings and Monuments in Bishop Auckland Hugh de Puiset (1125-1195) Grade I Listed Chapel of St Peter, Auckland Castle Castles Deer House, Auckland Castle
Auckland Castle
- Official Website of Auckland Castle, includes visitor information and history.

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The Gate at Auckland Castle

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Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, Durham Dales North East

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Auckland Castle gatehouse

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Auckland Castle, Residnece of the Bishop of Durham

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Bishop Auckland - Castle - Long Dining Room and Main Entrance

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Gate from entrance drive to The Bishop's Palace and grounds

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Chapel of St Peter, Auckland Castle
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Chapel of St Peter, Auckland Castle
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List grade: 1
List number: 1196444
Wikipedia: Auckland Castle
County: County Durham
Post code: DL14 7NR
Grid ref: NZ2136430201


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