History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 17th-century Zurbaran paintings of Israel and his Twelve Sons
One of the most interesting features at Auckland Castle is a collection of works by the Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbaran (1598 – 1664). There are 13 paintings in all, portraying Jacob (Israel) and his Twelve Sons, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Together the Zurbaran paintings make up one of the most important religious works of art in Europe. They were painted between 1640-1644, shortly after King Philip of Spain had proclaimed Zurbaran the 'king of painters'. They were purchased in 1756 by Bishop Richard Trevor (1752 – 1771), who used £125 of his own money to buy them. He was outbid at auction for the final painting ('Benjamin') by the Duke of Ancaster, so the Bishop immediately commissioned Arthur Pond to paint an exact copy made to complete the set.
The original medieval chapel at Auckland Castle was built in the 13th century by Bishop Beck. During the religious turmoil of the Commonwealth period that followed the English Civil War the castle was in the hands of Sir Arthur Haselrig, a prominent Parliamentary leader. Sir Arthur pulled down the chapel and used the stones as building material for a new mansion within the castle grounds.
The headboard is decorated with likenesses of the reigning couple in the guise of Adam and Eve. Richard Foxe, Bishop of Durham from 1494-1501 was a staunch supporter of Henry Tudor's claims to the throne and fought beside Henry at the pivotal Battle of Bosworth in 1485. The Paradise Bed has been featured in a BBC4 radio documentary called 'The King's Lost Bed'.
This late Georgian extravaganza is an 'eyecatcher', or folly, built in 1760 in Gothic Revival style to provide shelter and a feeding station for deer, with a viewing room so that visitors can watch the deer. It stands within an 800 acre park, where the Prince Bishops used to hunt.
The Deer House is in the care of English Heritage and has separate opening times from the castle. The park itself was converted into a sweeping landscape garden in the 18th century, with wide vistas and winding drives amid a woodland landscape, with the River Gaunless winding through it.
Another unusual feature inside the castle grounds is the Scotland Wing; a long, low range dating to at least the 16th century. The name suggests that it may have been used to house Scottish prisoners of war. When the castle was in the hands of Sir Arthur Haseling during the Commonwealth this wing was used as a granary.
About Auckland Castle
Address: Market Place, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England, DL14 7NR
Attraction Type: Castle
Location: No onsite parking. The nearest car park is at North Bondgate, 300 yards from the castle gates.
Website: Auckland Castle
Phone: 01388 743750
Historic Houses Association
Photo Credit: Photos are courtesy of Auckland Castle
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Binchester Roman Fort - 0.8 miles (Roman Site)
Escomb Saxon Church - 1.5 miles (Historic Church)
Raby Castle - 7.5 miles (Castle)
Durham Cathedral - 8.4 miles (Cathedral)
Durham Castle - 8.4 miles (Castle)
Crook Hall - 8.9 miles (Historic Building)
Piercebridge Roman Fort and Bridge - 9.2 miles (Roman Site)
Stanwick Iron Age Fort - 11.3 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nearest Accommodation to Auckland Castle: