THE Auckland Project charity has been hard at work for the past three years restoring Auckland Castle, in Bishop Auckland, to its original Georgian splendour.

Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the public and private lives of its former residents, the Prince Bishops of Durham, through fun and theatrical recordings which delve into the phases of the castle over the centuries.

Some rooms will offer visitors an immersive experience, with videos projected onto walls telling tales of the lengthy history it holds.

National Gallery tour comes to Auckland Castle gallery in Bishop Auckland

In many of the rooms, the items displayed are replicas of original pieces, as the previous Bishops often took originals away from the castle upon leaving.

This allows guests to handle reproductions of items from the past, bringing the history to life with an interactive, hands-on approach.

The Northern Echo:

Clare Baron, head of exhibitions and interpretation at The Auckland Project, said: “There are no ropes or barriers, visitors can really experience what life was like.

“It is a journey through time, each room is presented as it was used by a specific Bishop of Durham, you are travelling in the Bishops’ footsteps.”

Liz Fisher, engagement and curatorial director, said: “The clock tower was built in 1750 to keep the public out, and that stuck for a long time, so some of the community felt that the castle wasn’t here for them.

“What we are trying to do is share the power and glory of the Prince Bishops, let’s shout about that.”

She added: "Someone told me recently that the pride is back in the town and we hopes what we are creating will become a welcoming destination for many."

People can open drawers in the vestry, read letters strewn across the desk of Bishop Henson’s study, and even pull up a chair at the end of one of Bishop Trevor’s lavish dinner parties.

Audio and film have been worked into the experience to help people connect with the stories, from the atmosphere of the Durham coalfields to a question and answer session between children from Bishop Auckland and Shildon schools and the present Bishop Paul Butler.

The Northern Echo:

Members of the public can eavesdrop as guests gossip, ladies play cards and a string quartet performs in the Throne Room in about 1806.

A recreation of the 1980s bedroom of Bishop Jenkins’ daughter Rebecca can be explored, complete with Spitting Image on the television and a copy of Vogue in a magazine rack.

She worked as her father's press secretary at a time when the castle received 4,000 letters a week at the height of the miners’ strike.

Mrs Baron said: “This part of the North-East was historically incredibly important and we want to share that history.”

During restoration of the building, layers of history were exposed which, along with details found in archives, contemporary accounts and 230-year-old receipts, conservationists were able to have the castle restored in meticulous detail with the right paint tones, floor coverings and bespoke curtains.

The Auckland Project welcome the public to come along to the castle for its opening on Saturday, November 2.