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Auckland Castle (also known as Auckland Palace or locally as the Bishop's Castle or Bishop's Palace) is a castle in the town of Bishop Aucklandmarker in County Durham, Englandmarker.

The castle has been the official residence of the Bishop of Durham since 1832. However, it has been owned by the diocese for more than 800 years, being established as a hunting lodge for the Prince Bishops of Durhammarker. It is more like a Gothic country house than a true castle with a military function. The Castle's Scotland Wing presently serves as the administrative offices of the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance.

The castle's long dining room is home to 12 of the 13 17th century portraits of Jacob and his 12 sons painted by Francisco de Zurbarán. In 2001 the Church Commissioners voted to sell the paintings which have a £20m valuation, but relented until a review in 2010.

The castle is surrounded by of parkland, which was originally used by the Bishops 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 within the park which was built in 1760. It is a large stone castellated structure and acts as a shelter for deer. There is a viewing room for people to view the deer.


In around 1183 Bishop Pudsey established a manor house on the site. Bishop Bek, who preferred the town as his main residence over Durham Castlemarker due to its proximity to hunting grounds, later converted the manor house into a castle.

After the dis-establishment of the Church of England, at the end of the first civil war, Auckland Castle was sold to Sir Arthur Hazelrig, who demolished much of the castle, including the chapel, and built a mansion. After the restoration of the monarchy, the new Bishop of Durham, John Cosin, in turn demolished Hazelrig's mansion and rebuilt the castle converting the banqueting hall into the chapel that stands today.

In 1756 Bishop Trevor bought a set of paintings of Jacob and his 12 sons painted by Francisco de Zurbarán which still hang in the castle's long dining room today. The seventeenth century paintings' intended destination was South America. However, they were captured by pirates and never made it to their destination. Eventually, the paintings came into the possession of James Mendez who sold 12 of the 13 to Bishop Trevor in 1756 for £125.

Trevor was unable to secure the 13th portrait, Benjamin which was sold separately to the Duke of Ancaster and hangs in Grimsthorpe Castlemarker, Lincs. Trevor commissioned Arthur Pond to produce a copy of the Benjamin portrait. The copy together with the twelve originals were hung in the castle's long dining room, which Trevor had James Wyatt redesign to take the portraits.


Auckland Castle was shown on BBC's Antiques Roadshow programme in 2006, and two episodes were shown

Auckland Castle also provides the setting for Lewis Carroll's story "A Legend of Scotland". Part of the building is called 'Scotland' because it was used to house Scottish prisoners. The Scotland Wing presently serves as accommodation for the Durham Diocesan Office.

Notable structures

Image Name Listed Co-ordinates Notes Ref(s)
Auckland Castle Grade I Probably begun in 12th Century and completed in 13th century.
West Mural Tower and West Walls Grade I First wall built 14th century
Entrance Gateway Grade I Built by Thomas Robinson in 1760 for Bishop Trevor
Chapel of St Peter Grade I Built as Great Hall around 1190. Completed 1249. Converted to chapel 1661-65
Screen wall Grade I Built around 1795 for Shute Barrington by James Wyatt
Deer Shelter Grade I Built around 1760
Castle Lodge Grade I Built 17th Century
11 Market Place Grade II* Built early 18th Century. Formerly known as 18 Castle Square
15 and 16 Market Place Grade II 18th Century park gate-houses
17 and 18 Market Place Grade II Built early 18th century
12 Market Place Grade II Built early 18th Century. Previously known as 19 Castle Square.
2 and 3 Castle Square Grade II Medieval use unknown. Later Prebends' College, then carriage house.
Westcott Lodge Grade II Built early 18th Century.
Six pillars Grade II Possibly 17th Century hay shed.
Garden and Drive Walls Grade II Built 18th and 19th century. Railings added 19th Century
Jock's Bridge Grade II Built 1819, forms park boundary wall.
Trevor's Bridge Grade II Built 1757
Ice House Grade II Probably built late 18th Century
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II Built mid 18th Century
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II Built 1827
Footbridge over Coundon Burn Grade II Built 18th Century.
Well head Grade II 2m high pyramid. Part of 18th Century water supply to castle.
Cistern Grade II Part of 18th Century water supply to castle.
Milestone on Castle Drive Grade II 18th Century
Park Gates and Screen Wall Grade II Built late 18th Century
Lodge Farmhouse Grade II Built 1779 for John Egerton
Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse Grade II Built 1779.
Stables and Barn of Lodge Farmhouse Grade II Built 1779.


  1. Hutchinson, p.20
  2. Hutchinson, p.14
  3. Whellan, p.279
  4. Fordyce, p.548


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