Princes of the Church and their Palaces

An international conference and series of public lectures exploring bishops' and popes' palaces across Britain and Europe, with a particular focus on the redevelopments at Auckland Castle.

Important developments in research, conservation, and public presentation are currently taking place at Auckland Castle, the Bishop of Durham's former residence. 

In association with them, this conference will consider bishops' and popes' palaces from across Britain and Europe, and will stimulate discussion on:

  • how bishops' palaces and houses differed from the palaces and houses of secular magnates, in their layout, design, furnishings and functions;
  • the relationship between bishops' palaces and houses and their political and cultural context;
  • their relationship to the landscapes and towns and cities in which they were set, and their relationship to the parks, forests and towns which were planned and designed around them;
  • the architectural form of bishops' palaces and houses, and how far they shared common architectural features across England, Wales, Scotland, and indeed across Europe.

Anyone with an interest in Auckland Castle itself or in historical monuments in general is warmly invited to attend and take part in discussions. The conference will be the fullest treatment of bishop's and popes' palaces ever undertaken. 

Keynote speakers:

  • Simon Thurley - English Heritage
    What is special about bishops’ palaces? (Domestic performance of liturgy, private chapels, cloisters).
  • Maureen C. Miller - University of California Berkley
    Political and cultural significance of the Bishop's Palace in Medieval Italy
  • Malcolm Thurlby - York University, Toronto
    Bishop Puiset’s Hall at Auckland Castle in relation to later Twelfth-Century episcopal halls in England.


Christopher Ferguson, Jacqueline Sturm, Michael Burger, Julia Barrow, Pippa Hoskin, John Hare, Michael Ashby, Margaret Harvey, Christine Penney, Robert McManners, Graham Jones, Jack Langton, Linda Drury, Andrew Miller, Mark Horton,  Tim Tatton-Brown, John Schofield, Stuart Blaylock, Richard Parker, Martin Biddle, Jeremy West, Matthew Reeve, Gottfried Kerscher, Rick Turner, Penny Dransart, Pam Graves, Jane Cunningham, Adrian Green, Richard Pears, John Martin Robinson, Ria Snowdon.

The conference will take place at Bishop Auckland Town Hall and Auckland Castle.

There will be field-study visits to the palace, its park, and the planned borough of Bishop Auckland, and a full-day field-study visit to other palaces of the Bishops of Durham, including Darlington, Bishop Middleham, and Durham Castle.

For more information, including a full programme of lectures, booking details & travel/accomodation information, please download the following documents.

  Full Programme

  Booking and Payment Form

  Travel Information



For more information call 01388 743750 or email