County Durham, DL14 7NP
Auckland Castle is currently closed for restoration. Please visit the website for further details.
Home of Durham's Prince Bishops since AD 1190, Auckland Castle boasts the grandest of religious trappings and a famous gallery of works by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán
Sitting in 180 acres of parkland, Auckland Castle is one of the best-preserved episcopal palaces in Europe. It was the seat of the old Prince Bishops, who wielded civic as well as religious power over the area. Dating from the 13th century, the state rooms were re-styled in the 18th and 19th centuries in the Gothic Revival style by James Wyatt, the architect to George III.
A combination of ecclesiastical bombast and the aesthetic whims of a series of Bishops, it features stunning stained glass windows, a historic chapel and an imposing Throne Room. Wyatt's windows were tinted pink, at the instruction of Bishop Shute Barrington, in order that 'the ladies appear less pale in the bright sunlight' as they danced.
One of the most appealing features of the castle is its collection of paintings by Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbarán. Auckland owns all but one of the Spanish artist's cycle of portraits of Jacob and his 12 sons. A copy stands in its place, and the 13 canvases, which stand eight feet tall, have been one of the artistic highlights of the north east for more than 250 years. They were bought in 1756 and still hang in the dining room that was specially built for them.