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Due to essential maintenance, the following systems will be unavailable from 6.00pm on Monday 2 October until 8.00am on Tuesday 3 October: our online council tax, business rates and housing benefit services, and our welfare assistance form. You will also not be able to register to pay council tax online, make a change of address for council tax or cancel single person discount. You are still able to make a payment during this time. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Community engagement and schools

We are working with the secondary schools and the college to get children involved with the town's history and heritage. We will also be organising a programme of events, working in partnership with other local organisations, including exhibitions, talks, workshops and festivals.

Virtual tours

The rich history of Bishop Auckland's town centre is celebrated in a new virtual guided tour, which has been created by Historic England. Visit Heritage Action Zones Historic England to find out more.

Archaeology in Auckland Caste Deer Park

Auckland Castle Deer Park on the edge of Bishop Auckland is what remains of a once much larger medieval deer park established over 900 years ago for the influential Bishops of Durham.

Open our digital story map to explore resources used to map and examine elements of the upstanding archaeology within Auckland Park and to discover highlights from the results of aerial and archaeological investigations across the parkland and the golf course.

Heritage Open Day tour

In 2018 and 2019 we held a tour which told the history of the town through key buildings and looked at the programme of conservation and restoration that will transform and revitalise the town

History and Heritage Festival 2019

Working with over 20 local organisations we organised 30 events run over a 16-day period in September 2019. These included an archive film screening, history fair, exhibitions, talks and walking tours.  2,539 people attended the events coming from the town, local area and north east region.

The 2nd History and Heritage Festival 2020

In 2020 the History and Heritage Festival was held from 23 October to 2 November 2020. For the first time the Heritage Action Zone worked in partnership with the neighbouring Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Action Zone. Together we worked with over 35 local groups to organise the festival programme of over 50 events/happenings.  There were some live events with 10 walks run by the Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway and seven live talks including four talks focused around the Bishop Auckland Town Hall, two talks by Chris Lloyd, from the Northern Echo and a panel discussion regarding the restoration of the West Mural Tower. Three local primary schools received salt dough Midsummer Cushion Packs and 50 packs were distributed to the local community.

Midsummer Cushions

Local primary schools Victoria Lane Academy Coundon, Woodhouse Close and Escomb took part in our workshops to recreate Midsummer Cushions. In the 1800s there was a lovely custom in Bishop Auckland to celebrate the summer equinox. Wooden stools coated with a layer of clay were placed at many street corners in the town, and local people would press all kinds of summer flowers into the clay to make what were known as "Midsummer Cushions". Working with artist Betty Barnet Brown the children used recycled materials such as waste packaging and upcycled fabrics to make flowers to stick into their "cushions" which will be made from foam and mounted on a metal three-legged stool.

Experience Bishop Auckland

This was a temporary exhibition of town images through the ages from large size reproductions of Victorian lithographs to photos from the County Records Office and the Historic England Archive. Pupils from secondary schools in the town enjoyed workshops in photography, creative writing and mixed media art.

Hidden Bishop Auckland Project 2020

From July to October 2020 the people of Bishop Auckland and beyond were able to participate in five different projects aiming to uncover memories, stories, crafts, people and places that reflect the history and heritage of the town.

A partnership between the Community Arts Team and the Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone supported five projects through the Summer holidays culminating during the History and Heritage Festival 23rd Oct to 2nd November 2020. The projects were created in conjunction with local and regional artists. The projects were all redeveloped to take account of restrictions in place because of Covid-19 and were delivered mainly through Social Media and online and digital platforms.

Hidden Stories - Richard Bliss delved into the history of the Town Hall and his research will inspire the creation of material for a "workers garment" in the style that would have been worn in the 1800s when the town hall was built. We held four "town gatherings" online including the history of the building's construction, the campaign to save the building in the 1980s, conserving heirlooms and exploring family history.

Hidden Gems - Improve your photographic skills with top tips from photographer Lee  Dobson. Lee did a series of engaging online short tutorials via Social Media focusing around taking shots around our Heritage Action Zone area. Images submitted were then chosen to be included on 12 designs for digital postcards.

Hidden Places in Faces:  Artists Stu Langley asked people to film as they went for a walk around our beautiful Heritage Action Zone area and to share the footage of their favourite places in Bishop Auckland. With a photo of the filmmakers head in profile, together with the footage, Stu mad a film celebrated places in faces. Stu also delivered several online tutorials on editing film using a basic app.

Warning: this film contains flashing and distorting images.

To watch the film go to Places in Faces in YouTube.

Hidden Crafts - Local arts organisation Daisy Arts delivered a series of online short craft activity sessions created for both children and adults using different techniques and easily sourced materials and recycling.  You could make a flower brooch, a pop-up structure, build a tower, try collage art and make a kite to fly. There were a limited number of activity packs which provided all the resources to make your own Midsummer Cushion, all delivered to the door. More salt dough Midsummer Cushion packs were delivered to three local schools in the Autumn term.

Hidden Words - Dr Lucie Brownlee gathered recollections and memories of the town. Working the staff and residents of Sandringham Care Home. These stories published were published as Podcasts and broadcast on Bishop FM during the History and Heritage Festival 2020.

The projects are funded through Durham County Council Towns and Villages Fund, DCC Community Arts, Bishop Auckland Heritage Action Zone funded by Historic England and South Durham Enterprise Agency. All activities are free of charge so please get involved.

Historic England logo

In partnership with

  • Historic England