When Harry Pearson last visited this Georgian gothic palace in County Durham ‘it was a jewel badly in need of a polish.’ Now its restored spires and grand state rooms are the centrepiece of an ambitious project to regenerate the Bishop Auckland area

Surveying the ornate white plasterwork of the Throne Room in Auckland Castle – a neo-gothic riot of spires and curlicues designed in the 1790s by the fashionable and feckless James Wyatt – I hear the voice of my long departed grandmother tutting, “It’s all very pretty, but you wouldn’t want to be the one had to dust it”.

My gran had been a housemaid in the nearby mansion of a Durham mine owner. Her assessment of interiors was based on below-stairs practicalities. I think she would have enjoyed walking through the grand state rooms and domestic living quarters of the newly restored Auckland Castle, which opens to the public on 2 November.

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