Gardens & Grounds

Complete your visit with some time outdoors; relax in over 150 acres of historic parkland and see where some of your lunch ingredients started out life, in the Castle's Walled Garden.

The Deer Park

The Prince Bishops created Auckland Park over 800 years ago as their own private hunting ground. It was one of the reasons why the Bishops of Durham chose to live at Auckland Castle, rather than in Durham City.

The 150 acre parkland is free to visit at any time of the year, and retains many of the medieval elements, including fish ponds and woodland paths.

The Walled Garden

See the redevelopment of the stunning Walled Garden, which was originally built in the 17th century. The veg patches will soon be yielding harvests headed straight to your plate, in one of cafes and restaurants.

Things to see and do

  • Download our Walk in the Park map and lace up your walking boots. There are three suggested walks through the Deer Park and points of interest to look out for along the way. Canine friends are welcome too.
  • Take a stroll through the impressive Walled Garden, which is undergoing a comprehensive regeneration project. Once the work is complete, it will be a source of fresh produce, from soft fruits to root vegetables. These home grown ingredients will be incorporated into the seasonal menus available across our cafés and restaurants for you to enjoy.

History

Deer Park: Over the centuries many Prince Bishops changed the aspect of the park, but Richard Trevor, Bishop of Durham from 1752 to 1771, had the greatest impact. He built the Clock Tower and Gatehouse and remodelled the park as a landscape setting to the palace. He also built the Georgian Gothic Deer House as a place to shelter and feed the deer, and created a first-floor dining room from which guests could view the palace and surrounding countryside while enjoying the bishop’s hospitality. The Deer House cost £379 to build, a huge amount at the time.

The 18th-century bishops added other features in the park: beyond one of the stunning bridges which span the River Gaunless you can find the ice house and a stone pyramid that caps an early water supply for the Castle.

Walled Garden: Bishop Cosin created the original Walled Garden in the 17th century, the first of its kind in the North East. Pioneering techniques were used such as heated walls and glass hothouses to grow vegetables, flowers, fruit and even pineapples for the bishop’s guests.

Over the next two years, we're working with a team of landscape designers, gardeners and architects to make sure the top section of the Walled Garden complements the other spaces around the Castle. Preliminary works to clear the site in the Walled Garden began in December 2017, with planting going in the ground in spring 2019.

Once complete, visitors will be able to follow the route travelled by the bishops and their guests, taking the 18th century stairs to the Walled Garden, guided by a member of our team, for a stroll around this beautiful garden. Hear more about it's history and it's future, in our Walled Garden tour.

Our work

We have a team of four dedicated Horticulture Apprentices who are busy improving the appearance of the Castle grounds ahead of its reopening. As well as planting flowers and reinstating hedges, they are growing vegetables for the Catering Team to use when preparing their delicious dishes.

Every visit to the Walled Garden or another one of our seven attractions, shops or cafes, helps us to ensure that the town's future is as magnificent and vibrant as its past.

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