ONE of County Durham’s most beautiful historic castles is preparing to open its doors following a three-year conservation project.

Auckland Castle, in Bishop Auckland, will re-open to the public on Saturday, November 2, as part of The Auckland Project visitor destination and regeneration charity.

Once home to the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham, the re-opening will give visitors the chance to journey through time and encounter some of the most important and decisive moments in the Castle’s 900-year history. 

The Bishops’ private apartments will be open for the first time, while visitors can also view the Castle’s splendid State Rooms, which have been carefully returned to their Georgian Gothic splendour.

Untold stories of power and faith will be revealed through art, architecture and historic interior design, while interactive animation, soundscapes, and audio-visual displays will help to bring the stories of Auckland Castle to life.

The new Bishop’s Kitchen café will be open, offering a selection of snacks, sandwiches, and treats created by The Auckland Projects’ Catering Team, and visitors can leave with a unique souvenir of their day from the Auckland Castle shop.

Clare Baron, Head of Interpretation and Exhibitions at The Auckland Project, said: “The story of Auckland Castle and the Prince Bishops of Durham spans more than 1,000 years, but for various reasons has remained relatively untold.

“Now, thanks to extensive conservation work and research, visitors will be able to walk in the footsteps of the men who helped shaped the country we live in today.”

Conservation of the 12th century castle began in 2016 and has been supported by a number of organisations and individuals, including a £12.4 million grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Castle will officially re-open with a special Community Day on Saturday, November 2, before general admission begins on Sunday, November 3.

The Community Day will begin at 10am with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:30am, and will feature live music and entertainment, family activities, and discount tickets prices, until 4:00pm.

For one day only, visitors can tour the castle at a discounted rate of £5 for adults, £4 for concessions, and £1 for children. Tickets are available now by visiting Auckland Tower, in Bishop Auckland Market Place or calling 01388 743 797.

Tickets will also be sold on the day, subject to availability, but booking early is recommended for anyone who wants to guarantee their place as one of the very first visitors to set foot inside the conserved castle.

Following the Auckland Castle Community Day, tickets will be priced at £10 per adult, £8 for concessions, and £3 for under 16s – these include entry to the Bishop Trevor Gallery, a temporary exhibition space within Auckland Castle, and can be booked now at, by calling 01388 743 797, or in person from Auckland Tower. 

Visitors can also purchase an Auckland Pass, which offers multiple visits to Auckland Castle and Bishop Trevor Gallery as well as The Auckland Project’s Mining Art Gallery and Auckland Tower visitor centre until January 2021. Prices are £12.50 per adult, £10.50 concessions, £3 per child (under 16) and £28 for a family. For more information visit