More than 30 youngsters, aged eight to 18, travelled from as far afield as Newcastle, Sunderland and the Yorkshire Dales to attend a special summer school at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland.

There, they used a combination of drama, art and music to explore the history of the Prince Bishops, who called the Castle home for more than 900 years.

This included an opportunity to build their own shields and compose original songs telling the rich, and often bloody history, of Auckland Castle and its former residents.

Working with Community Interest Company, Jack Drum Arts, as well as representatives from the Backscratch Theatre Company, the summer school participants were then able to showcase their music, along with a selection of traditional pieces, as part of a one off performance for family and friends.

The outdoor show, which was presented in and around Auckland Park’s historic Deer House earlier today (Friday August 5), was the culmination of five days’ hard work and, for many, represented the first time they had ever performed in public.

.Laura Emerson, Lead Music and Arts Worker for Jack Drum Arts, said: “At the start of the week very few of our summer school participants had any knowledge of the Prince Bishops of Durham or enough confidence to step onto the stage.

“The positive change they experienced in just a few days was absolutely amazing and it was fantastic to see not only their reactions, but the reactions of their friends and family who came to see the show too.”

The Jack Drum Arts Summer School, in partnership with the Auckland Castle Trust, is part of a two year youth music programme, designed to help young people develop their social and communication skills, build confidence and nurture an interest in the arts.

Many of those taking part also used the sessions to work towards an Arts Award, with Discover and Explore levels on offer for the youngest participants and Gold, Silver and Bronze options for their older counterparts.

Alison Tweddle, Community Outreach Officer for Auckland Castle Trust, said: “The Arts Award and programmes like the Jack Drum Arts Summer School are a great way of inspiring young people to be creative and develop stronger life skills.

“We are thrilled to be a part of that process and look forward to continuing this work as part of our wider community outreach and schools programmes.”

For more information about Auckland Castle visit and for Jack Drum Arts visit