Auckland Castle (also known as Auckland Palace or locally as the Bishop's Castle or Bishop's Palace) is a castle in the town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, England.
The castle has been owned by the diocese for more than 800 years, being established as a hunting lodge for the Prince Bishops of Durham. Auckland Castle was the official residence of the Bishops of Durham from 1832 until July 2012 when ownership of the castle was transferred over to the Auckland Castle Trust, a charitable foundation whose aim is to begin a major restoration of the grounds and castle, and set up permanent exhibitions on the history of Christianity in Britain and the North East.The bishop will continue to work in Auckland Castle, but no longer resides there.
It is more like a Gothic country house than a true castle with a military function. The Castle's Scotland Wing presently serves as the administrative offices of the Durham Diocesan Board of Finance.
The castle's long dining room is home to 12 of the 13 17th century portraits of Jacob and his 12 sons painted by Francisco de Zurbarán. The room, in which they have hung for 250 years, was specifically designed and built for them. In 2001 the Church Commissioners voted to sell the paintings which have a £20m valuation, but relented until a review in 2010. On 31 March 2011 Church Commissioners announced that plans to sell off the paintings were shelved following a donation of £15 million from investment manager Jonathan Garnier Ruffer.
The castle is surrounded by 800 acres (3.2 km2) of parkland, which was originally used by the Bishops for hunting and is today open to the public. The castle and its grounds contain seven Grade I listed buildings. These include a Deer House within the park which was built in 1760. It is a large stone castellated structure and acts as a shelter for deer. There is a viewing room for people to view the deer.