Auckland Project

Alexander Iles
Auckland Project
Auckland Project

The Auckland Project brings to life the old land and property of the Bishop of Durham in Bishop Auckland. Formerly the site of the Bishop of Durham’s Palace at Auckland Castle, the town is now benefiting from one of the best examples of philanthropy in the North East – the Auckland Project. The Auckland Project was created by Jonathan Ruffer, a successful businessman and philanthropist who returned to his native County Durham with a dream to impact the local economy by creating visitor attractions in Bishop Auckland. Jonathan Ruffer started by purchasing the former Bishop of Durham’s Palace and then started a project of restoration, aiming to create several visitor attractions in the town with each having a different emphasis.

Auckland Castle itself developed from a fortress to fight in a war-torn land, into a country manor of impressive scale. The Castle was required to show off the influence of the Bishop of Durham who was often considered one of most powerful positions in the whole of England and, on occasion, the whole British Isles. The Bishops from their preferred residency of Auckland Castle would be able to have a huge influence on British politics often being the linchpin in the defence against Scotland and international religious politics. A journey through the castle tells this story and highlights bishops ranging from the Holy, to warriors. Outside of the castle is the Walled Garden, a 17th Century garden created by the Bishop of Durham with greenhouses and heated walls, enabling the estate to grow fruit and vegetables throughout the year – with the most striking of these for the time being pineapples. The garden, when completed, will provide produce for the Auckland Project’s restaurants, which adds a fantastic element of sustainability to the project.

Just off the town’s marketplace is the Spanish Art Gallery. This gallery has a collection of paintings that focus on medieval and early modern Spanish art, with “Jacob and his Twelve Sons” by Francisco de Zurbarán, being the core of the collection. Using the paintings gathered and curated within the castle, the Auckland Project has found a fantastic way of taking a part of the Castle’s history and developing it into another attraction for the town. This collection of Spanish art is intended to grow as new pieces of art are added to the collection.

The Faith Museum tells the story of faith within the British Isles. It takes us through the pre-Christian faiths of the British Isles, right up to the modern day, where people of many different faiths and no faith exist side-by-side. The aim of the museum is to tell the story of faith without directing you toward any conclusion, but for you to meditate on the experience – after all they say that they are taking on a big challenge, with the tagline being ‘Eternity in 740 square metres’.

The Mining Art Gallery is a very fitting part of the North East of England’s history, with so much of the wealth and employment of the region having come from the rich coal fields that still exist under much of the North East. This gallery has collections of art from famous artists such as Tom McGuinness, Norman Cornish and the Gemini collection – a collection of 420 paintings and other works of art by miners from the region. The Mining Art Gallery is special in how it highlights the social history of ordinary people, who worked in incredibly difficult circumstances. Once you have enjoyed all these fantastic sites, there is also the Deer Park. The park is a wonderful day out for the family, with a downloadable map and three trails, all having their own points of interest and fun for all ages to enjoy.

Auckland Tower Market PlaceBishop AucklandDL14 7NJ View map
Telephone: 01388743750 Visit Now

Opening Hours

  • Wednesday10:00am - 4:00pm
  • Thursday10:00am - 4:00pm
  • Friday10:00am - 4:00pm
  • Saturday10:00am - 4:00pm
  • Sunday10:00am - 4:00pm

Always double check opening hours with the venue before making a special visit.

What's on near Auckland Project

FestivalsCumbria
Kendal Calling Festival 2024

Featuring over 200 artists and performers, immersive arts experiences and kids activities, Kendal Calling is a great, family-friendly festival set in the stunning Lake District.

from £199.00

Where to go near Auckland Project

Auckland Park
Durham
Park
Auckland Park

Next to Bishop Auckland is the refurbished Auckland project which is now internationally famous for Kynren and the Spanish Gallery, but also has a grand and pleasant park attached to the Castle.

Kynren
Durham
Theatre
Kynren

Kynren is an epic outdoor live-action show that takes you through 2000 years of British history via a theatrical story by Eleven Arches.

Locomotion
Durham
Museum
Locomotion

Locomotion is a railway museum found in Shildon, known as the world’s first railway town, telling the historic story of train travel.

Low Burnhall
Durham
Park
Low Burnhall

A two miles from Durham city and off the historic Great North Road is Low Burnhall – sixty eight hectares of stunning natural beauty; a wonderful natural woodland that ranges from newly planted trees through to ancient British woodlands.

Raby Castle
Durham
Tourist Attraction
Raby Castle

A trip to Raby Castle brings together a medieval fortress and early modern art to create a memorable visit for all the family.

North East
Museum
Oriental Museum

Durham University displays a devoted exhibition, looking at the art and archaeology of the great cultures of Northern Africa and Asia.

Botanical Gardens
Durham
Tourist Attraction
Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens are a short distance from the city centre and cover ten hectares of land, taking you across the world and introducing you to the beautiful diversity of plants.

Hardwick Hall
Sunderland
Hotel
Hardwick Hall

In County Durham, just half an hour from Sunderland, is the beautiful old country hall now converted into a hotel: Hardwick Hall. This award-winning hotel is situated within Hardwick Country Park. The park was refurbished in 1999 at a cost of £4.1 million granted by the heritage lottery fund. This allowed the park to be restored, with many of the buildings, such as the temple of Minerva, restored to the beauty enjoyed in the 18th century.

Durham Cathedral
Durham
Place of worship
Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral dates back to an Anglo-Saxon cathedral in 995AD, and was the first in England to have a vaulted stone roof.

North East
Museum
Museum of Archaeology

Durham University’s specialist museum showcases an exhibition which ranges from the prehistory to modern times, charting the history of Durham.

Durham Castle
Durham
Tourist Attraction
Durham Castle

Durham Castle, initially constructed following the Norman Invasion, now offers guided tours around its historic site, which is also student accommodation.

Assembly Rooms Theatre
Durham
Theatre
Assembly Rooms Theatre

In the heart of Durham, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, is Assembly Rooms Theatre, an historic building showcasing theatre throughout the year.

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