Auckland Castle

The Auckland Project in full bloom as attractions prepare for spring reopening Wednesday, 23 March 2022

The Auckland Project is inviting visitors to explore and discover the history of Bishop Auckland and its many treasures as it reopens its doors for a busy year ahead.

The magnificent Auckland Castle with its stunning gardens and grounds, Auckland Tower, with its panoramic views across the town, and the Mining Art Gallery – complete with a new exhibition – will be ready to welcome visitors from 23 March, following a winter closure.

Alongside the Spanish Gallery which opened in 2021 and the 200-acre Deer Park, visitors are being encouraged to make a full day of it with The Auckland Project when planning a trip to the historic market town in County Durham.

Robyn Brown, Chief Operating Officer at The Auckland Project, said: “Everyone has been counting down the days to reopening and all our wonderful staff and volunteers can’t wait to see people coming back through the doors.

“We’ve been delighted with the reception given to the Spanish Gallery since it first opened in October last year and now with the reopening of our other attractions, we invite people to make the most of all we have to offer.”

Visitors can take in the historic splendour of Auckland Castle and its extensive surrounding curtilage, including the North Terrace with beautiful long views through the Deer Park and beyond into the Wear Valley.

They can also take in the grandeur of the Throne Room and the warm elegance of the Long Dining Room in the Castle, home to Francisco de Zurbarán’s impressive series of paintings Jacob and his Twelve Sons, which laid the foundations for The Auckland Project back in 2012 and served as inspiration for the Spanish Gallery.

The Bishop’s Kitchen will be open in the Castle with a tempting menu of hot drinks, freshly made sandwiches and cakes, and in good weather, visitors can sit in the new outdoor Kitchen Courtyard: a historic sun-trap setting.

At the Mining Art Gallery, a new temporary exhibition, David Venables: Hewing Out the Image, will offer a retrospective of the artist’s work over many decades. Though not a miner himself, David, who is approaching 80, was born into a family of miners and grew up within the tight-knit mining communities in the North East.

In this exhibition, he reflects on his life and work. “It was born of the realisation I’m not getting any younger, and how important mining was in my family’s life,” he says. The exhibition runs until 12 June.

The Spanish Gallery is the first gallery in the UK dedicated to the art, history and culture of Spain.

Focusing on the Spanish Golden Age, the Gallery explores the development of art, politics and religion throughout the period with devotional art, portraiture and still lifes on display from key figures such as El Greco, Zurbarán, Velázquez and Murillo.

Tickets for all The Auckland Project’s attractions can be booked online, here. Single and family tickets are available, together with options for individual attractions.