Protection: Top of the Agenda in the Great Auckland Castle Rescue

The imposing Auckland Castle overlooks the River Wear, enveloped by formal gardens and 150 acres of idyllic parkland. It is one of the best-preserved bishops’ palaces in the whole of Europe and is at the centre of The Auckland Project.

The 900-year-old castle, closed in 2016 so that specialist conservators, including expert stonemasons, carpenters and historians, could renovate the Grade I Listed building back to its peak 18th Century grandeur. Auckland Castle re-opened to the public in November 2019, making this historic building accessible to the public.

The castle has become the focal point of The Auckland Project, which is using art, faith, history and heritage to transform Bishop Auckland into a leading tourist destination.

The conservation scheme sought to stabilise the historic fabric of the building while recreating the interiors of the state rooms and private apartments designed by Bishop Barrington and distinguished architect James Wyatt.

The Auckland Project has spent a mammoth £50m in its regenerative work, which includes a grant of £12.4m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Working together with Meldrum Construction and architects Purcell; Selectaglaze supplied the Castle with a bespoke secondary glazing solution to compliment the restoration.

As the castle is Listed, any measures taken had to be sympathetic to the building’s elegance and historical significance. Because secondary glazing is a discreet and reversible adaptation, it is ideal for Listed properties and can provide an unseen level of security and protection to any property, as well as raising thermal performance and noise insulation.

The decorative, geometric windows leading into one of the new galleries were treated by Selectaglaze. The grid-like designs, marked with an interlacing pattern, depict the arms of John Cosin (Bishop of Durham 1660-1672) who transformed the medieval great hall in the castle into the private chapel of the Bishops of Durham.

A group of Gothic styled rooms not previously open to the public have now been repurposed as a gallery space. Selectaglaze installed slimline secondary units in the gallery that were curved at the top to fit perfectly against the primary windows in the exhibition space; very discreet for a heritage location like Auckland Castle.

Meldrum’s contract also contained the construction of an environmentally controlled extension for a new Faith Museum adjoining Auckland Castle. The new Scotland Wing extension is clad in quarried sandstone from Cop Crag in Northumberland. The new area will house an exhibition charting the impact of faith on the British Isles.

Overall, the newly renovated rooms are far better prepared to house exhibitions and museum collections. Selectaglaze is honoured to have been part of a restoration project that will create a legacy for Bishop Auckland; supporting an attraction that will breathe new life and openings into the local economy and overall visitor experience.

Founded in 1966, Royal Warrant holder Selectaglaze has substantial experience of working within Listed and sensitive buildings. Sign up via our blog for monthly Selectaglaze e-bulletins, with recent updates, new blogposts and events.

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