In 1837, Durham University moved into Durham Castle and adapted and restored the building for its new student residents.
In the Great Hall, the two state rooms added to the north end of the hall in the 17th century were removed. Several windows were lengthened to let in more light and wooden panelling portraits and a wooden Minstrel’s Gallery were added. These changes transformed the space into the University dining room, whilst preserving many of the characteristics of its origins as a feasting hall for medieval bishops.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the University, a stained-glass window designed and made by Charles Kempe was added to the North end of Great Hall.
From the 16th century onwards, Durham Castle’s defensive role decreased, and the Keep fell into ruin. With the establishment of University College, the Keep was rebuilt as purpose-built student accommodation. The architect Anthony Salvin carried out this work in the 1840s.
Following the First World War and the loss of a many staff and students, a memorial organ was added to the Tunstall Chapel. It was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the war. The organ recycled parts of Durham Cathedral’s famous “Father Smith Organ”, which was designed by the King’s Organ Maker, Bernard Smith, and installed in 1686.
During the Second World War, Durham Castle was used as a training centre for Royal Air Force officers. After the war, the Norman Chapel, which had been used as an RAF command and observation post, was conserved and re-consecrated, so becoming once again a working chapel and serving as a war memorial in honour of those lost in the Second World War.
University College today
Today, Durham Castle has many functions, but as University College, it is a home with facilities such as a library, a bar and a dining room. It is also a base for many societies and sports teams. It has a thriving community of 750 undergraduates and 700 postgraduates, and 300 members are attached to the College through the Senior Common Room.
The college motto Non nobis solum (not for ourselves alone) is at the heart of everything that happens at Durham Castle, especially for those - both past and present - who have had the privilege to call Durham Castle ‘home’.
The 17th organ in the Tunstall Chapel. Looking west, the organ is above the 17th century wooden screen.
The Norman Chapel, looking east through the columns.