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Search for former staff of Auckland Castle

ByEmily

May 9, 2017

The memoirs of a butler have sparked an appeal for stories surrounding one of County Durham’s oldest buildings, Auckland Castle.

As part of the restoration of the palace, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Auckland Castle Trust is now seeking memories from anyone who worked at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland or has heard stories directly from someone who did.

The appeal, launched by the Trust’s Curatorial Team, has been inspired by the discovery of memoirs by Ernest Alexander, who started working at the Castle in 1904 and served as Butler from 1912 until his retirement in 1958.

In it, he writes about life behind the scenes of the private residence of the Prince Bishops of Durham, including his role looking after the wine cellar, laying the table and planning lavish parties, as well as the changes he witnessed serving five Prince Bishops over 53 years.

Auckland Castle Trust is now keen to hear from anyone who knew Ernest, worked at Auckland Castle or was told stories by a friend or relative who worked there during the past 100 years, including all household staff, gardeners, tradesmen and contractors.

The charity is also interested in speaking to anyone who attended a private party at the Castle prior to 2010.

These stories, which all add to the personal history of the palace, will be gathered for posterity and some may even feature in the restored Castle when it reopens to the public in May 2018.

“We already know a great deal about the Prince Bishops and Bishops of Durham who called Auckland Castle home,” said Clara Woolford, Project Curator at Auckland Castle Trust.  “Now we want to know more the people behind the scenes who helped keep the palace running, as well as those who were lucky enough to be invited inside.

“Depending on what we find, we hope to incorporate some of these memories into the restored Auckland Castle, allowing future visitors the opportunity to understand even more about how this beautiful building was brought to life.”

Auckland Castle, which served as a private palace for the Prince Bishops of Durham for more than 900-years, is currently being restored to its former Georgian gothic opulence as part of a £70m revitalisation project led by Auckland Castle Trust.

The restoration is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sir James Knott Trust, The Charles Hayward Foundation, The Headley Trust, The Linbury Trust, The Rothschild Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, J Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust and the Overstone Fund.

Anyone with memories of Ernest Alexander, or of their time working or partying at Auckland Castle during the past 100 years, is asked to email memories@aucklandcastle.org or call 01388 743750, with their name, a brief summary of their story and, if possible, related photographs by May 12 2017.

For more information about Auckland Castle visit www.aucklandcastle.org

By Emily