Tees

Auckland Castle reopens to public after restoration

Auckland Castle Image copyright House of Hues/The Auckland Project

A 900-year-old castle has reopened as a tourist attraction after a multimillion-pound renovation.

Auckland Castle, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, was once the private palace of the Prince Bishops of Durham.

The three-year conservation aimed to transform it into an "international tourist destination" attracting up to 130,000 visitors a year.

It was funded by a £12.4m heritage lottery grant and £7m from the Auckland Castle Trust.

Auckland Castle was bought from the Church of England by millionaire philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer in 2012 who then handed it over to the newly-created charitable trust.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption It has taken three years to carry out the work to the castle's interior

Visitors will be able to find out about the "legacy of Northern power from medieval times to the present day ... the untold stories of some of the most influential men in British history".

For the first time, the former bishops' private apartments will be on show, and paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran, which had hung in the castle for 250 years, will return following an international tour.

Hannah Byron, head of visitor experience, said: "I think people are going to come in expecting your classic historical property, lots of old stuff.

"But actually what they are going to get is an amazing confectionary set of colours, [telling them about] these amazing figures from history who had power and influence."

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