A projection of the Ritual Gallery. Credit: exhibition designers Casson Mann

Auckland Castle wins planning consent for £17m restoration

Rebecca Atkinson, 14.04.2015
Scheme will include museum about the history of faith
Durham County Council has granted planning permission for a £17m restoration of Auckland Castle that will include a new museum about faith belief.

The project is part of a wider £60m regeneration, which aims to turn the 800-year-old building into a heritage centre welcoming 120,000 visitors a year and generating £3m in annual revenue.

Conservation specialist Purcell will carry out some of the restoration work while Niall McLaughlin Architects will extend and remodel the 16th-century Scotland Wing, which will house the museum. This will open in 2018 and will feature 11 galleries exploring the history of faith in Britain.
Auckland Castle Trust is investing £7m in the museum. The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded initial support of £1m and is considering an application for a £9m grant submitted earlier this year.

Chris Ferguson, Auckland Castle’s curatorial and exhibition director, said the new museum would use relics as well as film, audio and interactive displays to tell the story of faith.

“It will be a permanent and dynamic multimedia installation of national and international significance presenting works of art and artefacts covering prehistory to the present,” he said. “The visitor will be able to see objects going back to when humans first started functioning as a society as we would understand it today, right up to our modern times.”

Objects on display will include a Viking lead font that is a fusion of Pagan and Christian beliefs; four stained-glass panels recently that were among the last to be made before the Reformation; and two bronze age swords.

Thirteen works by Francisco de Zurbarán will also remain on display at Auckland Castle. The trust was set up in 2012 specifically to purchase the paintings from the Church Commissioners, which manages investments on behalf of the Church of England. They have hung at Auckland Castle since 1756.

Exhibition designer Casson Mann will oversee the exhibition and interpretation plan for the castle.

Last month the council granted planning permission for Auckland Castle Trust to construct a £2.5m welcome building on derelict land in the grounds, which is being also designed by Niall McLaughlin Architects and should be completed by May 2016.