NEW developments for the former residence of the Bishops of
Durham at Auckland Castle have been given the go-ahead.
The £17-million project, part of a £60-million scheme to turn
the historic building and its grounds into a world-class visitor
attraction, will involve constructing a tower entrance outside the
castle walls; the addition of a two-storey extension to the
16th-century Scotland Wing; and the refurbishment of the state
rooms, banqueting hall, and chapel.
The castle was bought from the Church Commissioners in 2012 by
the financier and philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer, after he stepped
in to stop the planned sale of the castle's paintings of Jacob and
his 12 sons by Francisco de Zurbarán, an artist of the Spanish
Golden Age. They were originally purchased by Bishop Trevor in 1756
The chief executive of Auckland Castle, David Ronn, said that
the castle "represented in 2012 the start of our journey, and
became the foundation and the inspiration for all that has followed
in our ambition to create a world-class, heritage-led regeneration
protect." It is expected to be finished in 2018.
The design for the expanded Scotland Wing is based on wooden
Anglo-Saxon churches of the sixth and seventh centuries, and will
house "Faith", a display across 11 galleries which explores
humanity's relationship with belief.
The castle's curatorial and exhibition director, Dr Chris
Ferguson, described it as "a permanent and dynamic multi-media
installation of both national and international significance,
presenting works of art and artefacts covering pre-history to the
The £2.5-million timber-framed entrance tower, will include an
observation platform almost 50 feet high, with panoramic views over
the town, castle, and parkland. The refurbished state rooms will
tell the stories of the bishops from medieval times to the
The Auckland Castle Trust says that the site will ultimately
become a "must-see destination of genuinely international status
and significance", creating more than 100 full-time jobs and 20
full-time training posts. The Trust forecasts 120,000 visitors
annually, injecting £3 million into the local economy.