A Bishop Auckland Revival

There’s a new bustle to Bishop Auckland these days, and it’s not before time.  It’s been a sad little place for the last many years, but finally someone has taken pity on it and started to breath new life into the dejected streets.  There’s still an impoverished look to the shops, in common with many of our high streets, but change is afoot.  In the vanguard, No. 42 leads the way with it’s fiercely pointy roof.  Describing itself as a gateway to both past and future, upstairs the Pod provides studio space to encourage artistic creativity.  And look!  The yarn bombers are about.

It all began with Auckland Castle, and a vision to turn it into a faith, art and heritage destination on an international scale.  Jonathan Ruffer, Chairman of the Auckland Project, has never lacked for ambition, but what is being achieved in Bishop Auckland is remarkable.  Back in 2014 I took you on a walk through the beautiful castle and grounds, with their distinctive Deer House.  A highlight of the post was the story of the paintings by Spanish master, Francisco de Zurbaran.  Auctioned for in excess of 15 million pounds, they were bought by Ruffer and the Trust he set up, to enable them to stay in Bishop Auckland.  They are soon to feature in a state of the art Spanish Gallery, opposite the new Mining Museum, on Market Square.  The castle is closed to the public and the gardens a bit of a mess until they reopen in December this year.  Meantime Kynren, a spectacular action show, taking you through 2000 years of history, will enliven the grounds again this summer.  I need to book a ticket.

The town isn’t lacking in history, having strong links with the Prince Bishops of Durham.  Surrounded by the mining industry until its decline, the town was once a railway hub and has an enormous entry in Wikipedia, for those who might be interested.  I’ll leave you with that happy chappy, Stan Laurel, who lived in the town as a child.  “Another fine mess you’ve got me into”.

Speaking of which, I didn’t have my camera that day, and had to improvise with some shots taken on my phone.  Scratches head!  You’ll get a better look around, and a peep at the paintings, on my original Auckland Castle post.

76 comments

  1. Lovely! Stan Laurel used to be a favorite of mine (and the whole family for that matter) in my younger days! Very nice tour. Have fun in Poland!

  2. RJo – love the yarn-bomb climbing up the tree. It’s a bit like those funny sweaters people knit for dogs. One day, I plan to knit/crochet one and start something fun over here. Susan

  3. Late tulips or was this a few week ago? Well done to the town for upping it’s game, Individual shops open up, can’t compete with the chains and close again. The survivors are the pound shops and charity shops. Then the chain restaurants always amaze me, they’re always so busy. It seems that shopping and eating out are what many people do with their children.
    I don’t know what you’re on about with your phone photos darling, even zoomed in they’re really good!
    I’ll probably only be here a little bit this week, but hey SEE YOU SOON x:-)x

    1. A week or so ago Gilly but we’re usually behind you. I’m already nervous about next weekend. Trying to learn a bit more Polish in the garden this morning but it will all go out of my head when I get there xx

  4. I take more photos with my phone than my camera anymore – it’s just as good, and sometimes better. What a wonderful combination of things to explore – and I always love to see yarn bombing!

    1. I much prefer my compact camera. The images taken on the phone are fine but they download in an awkward elongated shape which I have to adjust as best I can. 🙂 🙂

  5. The Bishop Auckland seems so charming and a great spot to visit and explore, Jo. Your pictures showed me a wonderful place which I hope to see one day. Just one more from your amazing walks!

  6. Interesting history, Jo and I had to make sure you hadn’t travelled over to New Zealand! Your photos of the town ensures it looks pretty and quaint and I smiled at the yarn-bombed stone seat – nice and warm for a little break! I love the Stan Laurel statue – it captures him perfectly! Hope you’re having a lovely Saturday! xx

      1. Blame me for the weather . . . I brought the summer stuff out and put the winter stuff away this week, and as soon as I did the weather changed!!

        PS made a note about visiting next year 🙂

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