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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: Deer Shelter in Auckland Castle Park

List Entry Number: 1297608


Auckland Castle Park, Bishop Auckland, Durham, DL14 7QG

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham
District Type: Unitary Authority
Parish: Bishop Auckland

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: I

Date first listed: 21-Apr-1952

Date of most recent amendment: 20-Oct-2021

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 385606

Asset Groupings

This List entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List Entry Description

Summary of Building

Deer shelter, about 1760 For Bishop Richard Trevor. Gothic revival style.

Reasons for Designation

This deer shelter, about 1760 for Bishop Richard Trevor, probably to designs of Thomas Wright, is listed at Grade I for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a handsome structure, designed on a site recommended by the writer and landscape gardener Joseph Spence, probably by Thomas Wright, an accomplished architect and garden designer; * a well-preserved and handsome piece of Gothic Revival architecture in the form of a mock castle with battlements, loops, pinnacles and pointed arches that echo parts of Auckland Castle refurbished in the same style; * a rare and unusual design that provided practical stock management in the form of shelter and feeding for deer, combined with grounds and rooms to enjoy the view; * it forms a dramatic eyecatcher within the landscaped park, adding interest to the landscape view from the principal building, Auckland Castle.

Historic interest:

* for its close historic association with Auckland Castle Park created for the Prince Bishops of Durham as a hunting estate.

Group value:

* it retains its historic relationship with the listed Auckland Castle and the registered Auckland Castle Park, and benefits from a spatial group value with numerous other listed buildings.


Deer parks were areas enclosed for the management and hunting of deer and other wild animals, containing both woodland and grassland. Since they were enclosed, they also provided a protected area for other uses. One of their distinguishing characteristics in the medieval landscape, where much land was farmed communally, was their private nature. They were found in virtually every county in England but were densest in the midlands and south-east, and least so in the far north, south-west, East Anglia, and Lincolnshire. Parks frequently contained a range of buildings such as parker’s houses, hunting lodges, watchtowers, slaughterhouses and dower-houses some of which could be quite substantial. They are typically associated with high status sites.

Auckland Castle Park originated as a deer park for the Prince Bishops of Durham, probably in the C11 or C12, associated with their residence at Auckland Castle. The park had a herd of wild cattle until the C17 and there are records of successive restocking with deer. The park fell into decline during the Interregnum at which time the trees were cut down, but it was restocked, and the fishponds renewed by Bishop Cosin during the period 1660 to 1671. In 1750 Bishop Butler extended the park to take in areas of woodland and began renewing the pale and planting, operations which were interrupted by his death in 1752. He was succeeded by Bishop Trevor, who continued with the improvements, spending more than £8,000 on the Castle and park during the period 1752 to 1771.

In 1754 Bishop Trevor consulted the writer and landscape gardener Joseph Spence (1699-1768) for advice as to how the parkland could be enhanced. Spence produced a detailed sketch plan, which along with an earlier unattributed plan, depicts a keeper’s lodge and smaller separate deer shelter on Hawthorn Hill. Spence notes that the hill, which is a prominent vantage point, deserved 'a pretty temple', and in about 1760 the present deer shelter was built replacing the earlier more utilitarian buildings. Although the design has been attributed to both Sir Thomas Robinson (1702/3-1777) and local architect Thomas Wright (1711-1786) it is thought likely to be the work of Thomas Wright, an accomplished astronomer, mathematician architect and garden designer, who had strong connections to Bishop Auckland. Besides providing shelter and food for the park’s deer, the new deer shelter had space intended for enjoying the view and it provided a dramatic eye-catcher in the landscape.

The building is also designated as a Scheduled Monument (National Heritage List for England reference 1011641).


Deer shelter, about 1760 For Bishop Richard Trevor, probably to designs of Thomas Wright. Gothic revival style.

MATERIALS: coursed squared sandstone with ashlar dressings.

PLAN: rectangular, comprising four linked passages arranged around a central, open quadrangle. There is a central arched entrance to the north-east side and a central tower to the south-west side, the latter containing a first-floor viewing room.

EXTERIOR: the deer shelter is situated on raised ground within the former deer park of Auckland Castle. It has crenelated outer walls with four-centre arched arcades, and there are four diagonal corner buttresses with pinnacles. The long south-east and south-west sides are each pierced by a 15-arch arcade, whose voussoirs rest on the impost mouldings of square piers. Above alternating arches there are blind cross-slits. The north-east side has a full-height central, pointed arched entrance with crocketed pinnacles on the flanking piers, and to either side is a six-arch arcade. The south-west side has a canted, crenelated ground-floor projection with pointed arched windows, flanked to either side by a six-arch arcade. Behind, rises a two-storey, crenelated and pinnacled tower, with a blind quatrefoil flanked by a blind cross slit to each of the first floor faces.

INTERIOR: solid, lower, inner walls create four linked passages (formerly roofed) forming deer shelters with cross arches to the corners. A passage in the north-west side has an opening through its inner face giving access to the central quadrangle. Within the first floor of the tower there is a prospect room for enjoying the view.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Harris, E, Thomas Wright's Arbours and Grottoes, (1979)
Roberts, M, Pevsner, N, Williams, E, The Buildings of England: County Durham, (2021), 140
Bishop Auckland Historic Areas Assessment, accessed 12-08-2021 from https://research.historicengland.org.uk/Report.aspx?i=16834&ru=%2FResults.aspx%3Fp%3D1%26n%3D10%26a%3D4654%26ns%3D1
English Heritage Trust website entry , accessed 01/06/2021 from https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/auckland-castle-deer-house/history/
ODNB entry for Thomas Wright, accessed 30/06/2021 from https://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb/9780198614128.001.0001/odnb-9780198614128-e-30060?rskey=PFGCIt&result=7


National Grid Reference: NZ2158930433

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This copy shows the entry on 19-Jan-2022 at 07:35:47.