THE Church of England has confirmed that Auckland Castle will no longer be used as the home of the Bishop of Durham.

The castle, in Bishop Auckland, will still provide offices and the chapel for future bishops, but their living accommodation will be elsewhere in the town.

The Church Commissioners are in the process of buying a house near the castle to be used as a temporary home, believed to be in Durham Road.

It is hoped that a house may be built somewhere in the grounds of the castle to provide a permanent home.

A spokesman for the Durham Diocese said: “The next bishop’s ministry will continue the 800-year-old tradition of being based at Auckland Castle, with the bishop continuing to use the chapel and retaining offices at the castle.

“However, at its meeting on April 14, the Church Commissioners’ board of governors decided that Auckland Castle itself would no longer be the home for future bishops.

“This will enable the bishop and his family to live in accommodation more suited to the needs of the 21st Century.

“In the meantime, the commissioners are in the process of purchasing a temporary house for the new bishop very close to the castle. None of this will be at any cost to the diocese.”

Discussions are still ongoing between Durham County Council and the National Trust over who will run the castle. It is home to the £15m Zurbaran paintings, which were bought last month by millionaire businessman Jonathan Ruffer after a campaign to prevent the Church Commissioners auctioning them.

It is hoped Auckland Castle and the paintings will become a major arts attraction, supported by the National Gallery.