THE paintings by the Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran, which hang in Auckland Castle, were painted between 1640 and 1645 and were aquired in 1756 by Richard Trevor Bishop of Durham for £124.00 after being seized from a ship at sea.

This shows that they were obtained in dubious circumstances for his own personal gratification and not for general viewing by the largely illiterate and uneducated public of the time.

Until a few months ago, what percentage of the population had even heard of these paintings?

Now there is a public outcry that they must be preserved in situ for the nation.

Even taking into consideration the manner in which these paintings were aquired, they do belong to the Church and so the Church can do whatever it thinks fit with them.

Religious paintings cannot be compared with the great artists like Turner or Renoir, so it is foolish to think that by preserving them for the nation, people will flock to see them.

To be honest they would be better back in Seville where the artist lived.

Allan Day, Darlington