A public opening date has now been confirmed for an historic North East castle, which was once home to some of the country’s most influential figures.
900-year-old Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, is re-opening in November 2019, following a three-year conservation programme led by regeneration charity and visitor destination, The Auckland Project.
An Auckland Castle Community Day will be held to mark the launch on Saturday, 2 November with general admission beginning the following day (Sunday, 3 November).
Once home to the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham, Auckland Castle’s State Rooms have been sensitively returned to their original Georgian Gothic splendour, while the Bishops’ private apartments are being opened to visitors for the first time, offering an intriguing insight into both the public and private lives of some of the most prominent characters in British history.
To celebrate Auckland Castle re-opening its doors, The Auckland Project will be hosting a special Community Day on Saturday, 2 November.
Starting with a ribbon cutting at 10.30am, the event will include live entertainment and activities, as well as an opportunity to be among the first to step inside the newly conserved Castle and uncover the stories of faith and power that await inside.
Entry to the Castle will be offered at the discounted rate of £5 per adult, £4 concessions and £1 per child for this day only.
Tickets for the Auckland Castle Community Day go on sale at midday tomorrow (11 September) and will be available in person at Auckland Tower, Bishop Auckland Market Place. Online and telephone bookings are not available for this event.
Subject to availability, tickets will also be sold on the day, with doors remaining open from 10.30am until 4pm.
A full programme for the opening day activities will be announced soon.
Tickets to visit Auckland Castle from 3 November will go on sale at midday tomorrow (Wednesday, 11 September), with pre-booking initially available to March 2020. Entry will be priced at £10 per adult, £8 concessions and £3 per child (under 16). This 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.
An Auckland Pass will also be available for entry to Auckland Castle and Bishop Trevor Gallery, as well as The Auckland Project’s Mining Art Gallery and Auckland Tower visitor centre. Priced at £12.50 per adult, £10.50 concessions, £3 per child (under 16) and £28 for a family (two adults and up to three children), the Auckland Pass will allow for multiple visits across all three sites throughout the year. Passes bought from 11 September 2019 will be valid until 3 January 2021.
Bookings can be made online (aucklandproject.org), via telephone (01388 743797) or in person at Auckland Tower, Bishop Auckland Market Place. A special 10% launch discount will be available online only.
The conservation of Auckland Castle has been supported by a number of organisations and individuals, including a £12.4m grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
When doors re-open in November, ticket holders will be able to walk in the footsteps of the Prince Bishops of Durham, from the sacred heart of Auckland Castle in St Peter’s Chapel – widely acknowledged as one of the largest private chapels in Europe – following the 18th century processional route through the State Rooms, to the private apartments, where the Bishops lived with their families.
Along the way, there will be an opportunity to learn more about these powerful figures and their role in British history and see items belonging to or related to the Bishops, both on loan and from The Auckland Project’s own collection. This includes the paintings of Jacob and His Twelve Sons by Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, which were bought by Bishop Trevor in 1756 and recently returned to Auckland Castle following an international tour to America and Israel, where they were viewed by more than 394,000 people.
Tickets for Auckland Castle will also include entry to the temporary exhibition space named after Bishop Trevor, which opened with The Origins of British Landscape exhibition in June 2019. By the time the Castle opens in full in November, Bishop Trevor Gallery will house The National Gallery Masterpiece Tour 2019, featuring Poussin’s The Triumph of Pan, which runs until 5 January 2020.
Clare Baron, Head of Interpretation and Exhibitions at The Auckland Project, said: “The story of Auckland Castle and the Prince Bishops of Durham spans more than 1,000 years but for various reasons has remained relatively untold. Now, thanks to extensive conservation work and research, we will be able to walk in the footsteps of the men who helped shaped the country we live in today.”
Purpose and Community Engagement
Housing the Bishop’s Kitchen café and a small shop, Auckland Castle will form part of The Auckland Project visitor destination, which already includes the Mining Art Gallery, Deer Park and Auckland Tower visitor centre and the Bishop Trevor Gallery.
A Faith Museum, Spanish Gallery and reimagined 17th century Walled Garden are also under development, to create a collection of seven destinations in and around the Castle grounds.
Delivered by a charity of the same name, the purpose of The Auckland Project is to create positive change for those living, working and visiting Bishop Auckland and to ensure the town’s future is as magnificent and vibrant as its past.
To date approaching £150m has been committed to achieving this long-term ambition, with visitors to Auckland Castle and the broader visitor destination also playing a crucial part in helping to bring it to life.
As part of its ongoing Engagement programme, The Auckland Project will be working with organisations in and around Bishop Auckland to ensure Auckland Castle has strong and meaningful links with the local community. This includes offering a number of programmes and activities, through which people can engage with the Castle and The Auckland Project as a whole. There will also be special Community Passes on offer via key partners to encourage local families who may never have visited before to do so.
Liz Fisher, Director of Engagement at The Auckland Project, said: “The opening of Auckland Castle will be an important milestone in our efforts to create ongoing opportunities for Bishop Auckland by sharing what we have here and making beautiful works of art, architecture and experiences accessible to everyone.”
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.
Tickets for Auckland Castle can be pre-booked from 11 September, via www.aucklandproject.org, on 01388 743797 and in person at Auckland Tower, Bishop Auckland Market Place.