Auckland Castle to re-open after multimillion-pound restoration

House of Hues/Auckland Castle Image copyright Auckland Project

A 900-year-old castle is to re-open after a multimillion-pound restoration.

Auckland Castle was home to the Bishops of Durham and their private apartments will be on show for the first time.

Visitors will also have access to the castle's state rooms and St Peter's Chapel - one of the largest private chapels in Europe.

Liz Fisher, director of engagement for The Auckland Project, which runs the castle, said is was an "important milestone".

The project wanted to make "beautiful works of art, architecture and experiences accessible to everyone", she said.

It includes building a two-storey extension to the castle's 16th Century Scotland Wing, to house an exhibition charting the faith, history and beliefs of the British Isles.

The castle's current biggest attractions are paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran, which have hung in the castle for 250 years.

Untold stories

The Prince Bishops governed the North of England for more than 750 years, having been granted special secular and religious powers by William the Conqueror.

Project head of interpretation and exhibitions Clare Baron said their story had "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," she said.

The restoration was expected to cost £17m, with £7m of that pledged by The Auckland Castle Trust.

A spokesperson for the Auckland Project said a grant of £12.4m had been secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund but would not confirm the final amount spent.

The castle, which will re-open on 2 November, hopes to attract 130,000 visitors a year.

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