Questions about visiting
When are the venues open?
From 3 July 2021, we’re delighted to be welcoming you back from 10am-4pm, Thursday to Sunday. At the moment, timed tickets are available for the Mining Art Gallery and Auckland Castle and Curtilage. There are also two tours every day (Thurs-Sunday) of the Lower Walled Garden and Orchard. There will be more opening later this year. You can book tickets here and we look forward to seeing you.
When is the Deer Park open?
The Deer Park is open every day during daylight hours. It’s free – you don’t need a ticket, and you don’t need to book. Parking is available nearby at North Bondgate Carpark.
The entrance to the Deer Park is through the Clock Tower on the Market Place. When you go through, you’ll see the wooden gates to the Deer Park straight ahead of you.
Where can I buy food?
The Bishop’s Kitchen in the Castle will open as soon as possible – at the moment we are prioritising opening the rest of the venues safely. In the meantime, our catering team are offering a takeaway service from the Coffee Cart by Auckland Tower; a wide range of refreshments are available, as well as picnics to take away and enjoy in the Deer Park. You can book those here. There are also a range of cafes and restaurants in the Market Place.
Why are the tickets timed, and why do I have to buy online?
Because of social distancing requirements, we need to limit the number of people indoors, for everyone’s safety. That means that even if you're a Friend of The Auckland Project, you will need to book a timed slot, which tells you when you need to arrive on site. When the government change the guidelines around social distancing, we’ll be able to invite more guests into our galleries and museums.
Can I arrive before my timed slot?
Because we have to manage the number of people at site carefully in order to protect our volunteers and guests, we ask that you arrive at the time of entry. If you have bought a ticket for the Castle and Curtilage, you will have the opportunity to visit the Bowling Green, North Terrace and the Courtyard after visiting the Castle.
Will you post my tickets to me?
No, we won’t be printing or posting tickets. If you have a smartphone, the ticket we email you will have a barcode on it, so just show our team of Meet and Greet volunteers, who will be waiting to say hello on the Broadwalk outside the Castle.
Can I pay at the entrance on the day?
At the moment, we need everyone to book timed tickets online. If you’d like to book on the day, you’re more than welcome to via our website using your smartphone. We can’t take cash or card payments on the gate.
What Covid hygiene measures are you implementing?
We ask that you:
- Please stay home if you’re experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, for everyone’s benefit. We look forward to welcoming you when you feel better
- Check our website and social media pages before you visit for the most up-to-date information
- Practice social distancing and keep two metres apart from other households. If you need to speak to a member of our team, please remember to keep at least two metres between you both
- Use our one-way systems inside
- Use our hygiene stations to sanitise your hands
- Practice great hygiene standards at all times, including regular hand washing and frequent use of hand sanitiser and catching any coughs or sneezes in your elbow
- Wear a face mask when you are in the Castle or Mining Art Gallery, unless you are exempt.
Are the toilets open?
Toilets are available in the Mining Art Gallery and Auckland Castle. If you are visiting the Lower Walled Garden, toilets are available in Auckland Tower – facing the building, the entrance to the toilets is to your right.
Where can I find the venues?
The Mining Art Gallery is right in the heart of Bishop Auckland's Market Place. The Castle, Deer Park and Walled Garden are beyond the Clock Tower, which is also on the Market Place. The sat nav for North Bondgate, our car park, is DL14 7PG.
Are pets allowed?
Much as we love animals of every kind, only Guide or Hearing Dogs are allowed in the Castle grounds and the Mining Art Gallery. Furry (or indeed feathery) companions are very welcome in the Deer Park.
Why have the tickets changed?
This year we’ve had to change our ticketing, partly because everyone needs to book a timed ticket while social distancing is a requirement, and partly because we’re opening up new gardens and tours, which weren’t available before. Over the next few years, there will be more and more to enjoy – the Spanish Gallery will be opening later this year, the Faith Museum next year, and the Great Garden and Wilderness Garden will be opening too. So, there will be a lot more to see, explore and enjoy, and our ticket prices will reflect those changes. The best way to enjoy all the galleries, gardens and museums is to become a Friend of The Auckland Project.
I bought an Auckland Pass in 2019/20 – what’s happening with them?
This year, the Auckland Pass isn’t on sale.
The Auckland Project is a community based charity. We were lucky enough to have generous donors who helped us to get going – but we rely on people buying tickets to our venues in order to keep going. Like so many organisations, coronavirus had a major impact on The Auckland Project, especially as the Castle had only just re-opened.
The cost of an Auckland Pass is similar to a day pass – it’s the cost of one visit, then the added benefit of being able to come back as many times as you like in a year for just a little extra.
If you are happy to donate the value of your Auckland Pass to help keep us operating, we would very much appreciate it. By doing so, you’re helping people to access jobs, apprenticeships and training, and making sure that everyone can enjoy the historic and beautiful spaces here.
We know that not everyone is able to donate the price of their Auckland Pass, so if you would like to talk to us about it, please fill in our contact form. We are operating with a very small team at the moment, but we’ll get in touch as soon as possible. Thank you so much for supporting us.
Questions about The Auckland Project
What have you been up to?
While our sites have been closed we've been hard at work supporting our community and making sure the rest of our building projects keep on track. Over the last year, our catering team has made over 20,000 meals for the community, which have been distributed thanks to a wide network of partner organisations and volunteers. Every week, fresh vegetables are sent out from the Walled Garden to support local food banks, charities and schools. On site, the Faith Museum and Spanish Gallery construction works have been completed, and the Clock Tower has been fully restored to it's former glory.
When is Auckland Tower re-opening?
At the moment we’re focusing our attention on getting Auckland Castle and the Mining Art Gallery open safely. The safety and comfort of our guests, volunteers, and staff is the most important thing to us – so it’s important that we make sure we can give you a fantastic experience before opening all of our sites.
If you’re missing the shop, the Auckland Castle shop is open Thursday – Sunday, so why not book a ticket to see the new exhibition in the Bishop Trevor Gallery and have some retail therapy at the same time.
Is the Faith Museum finished?
Although the building is complete, there’s a huge amount of work to do for the exhibition inside. Our fantastic designers, Studio MB, are currently working hard with our curators to make the Faith Museum become a reality, and we hope to open it next year. You can read more about the Faith Museum here.
Why are you digging outside the Castle?
The Castle has a truly fascinating archaeological history, and this summer we have a team from Durham University on site – they are exploring outside the Castle, and we’ll let you know what they find. Especially if it’s buried treasure.
What’s happening with the top section of the Walled Garden?
During 2020, we had to re-evaluate our finances in light of coronavirus, and very sadly, we had to cancel our plans for the Saana bubble restaurant, which had been planned for the Upper Walled Garden. We’re currently working with a team of architects to create a new scheme for the Upper Walled Garden. The new design will be a wonderful offering which complements the landscape, and the seven other Gardens in the Castle estate which we'll be sharing more about over the coming weeks and months.