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An image of the ruins of Bek's Chapel at Auckland Castle

A unique open-air service will be held in the atmospheric ruins of Bek’s chapel at Auckland Castle, the location of which has, up until recently, been a mystery since its destruction in the 1650s.

Service to reflect on the past

The service, led by The Rt Revd and Bishop of Durham Paul Butler, will reflect the type of worship that would have been offered during the chapel’s 300-year history.

Those in attendance will be able to listen to music, prayers and readings, similar to those believed to have been used by John Cosin when he was Chaplain to Bishop Neile in the 1620s.

The special service, which will be held on Easter Sunday, will celebrate the achievement of rediscovering the chapel before the remains that were uncovered during excavations are reburied for their protection. 

Hidden secrets

The most recent excavations, which have been ongoing for six years, are some of the most extensive ever undertaken on a bishop’s house anywhere in Europe.

The ruins of the chapel were identified in 2018 by a team from our Department of Archaeology, in partnership with archaeologists and volunteers from The Auckland Project. Items that were discovered included aglets or lace ends, clay-pipes and religious objects such as book fittings and rosary beads.

Bek Chapel is one of three at Auckland Castle. It is thought that this chapel was constructed during the early 14th century during the tenure of Prince Bishop of Durham, Anthony Bek.

Although its existence had been documented, the chapel’s location had remained a mystery since its destruction in the 1650s by Sir Arthur Haselrig, following the English Civil War.

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Photo credit: Alexander Jansen, Durham University.