Well Head in Auckland Castle Park


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Auckland Castle Park, Bishop Auckland, DL14 8AN


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Statutory Address:
Auckland Castle Park, Bishop Auckland, DL14 8AN

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

County Durham (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Well head, mid-C18.

Reasons for Designation

This well head, of mid-C18 date, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* it is an attractive and skillfully constructed structure, that remains essentially intact; * its ornamental design and its visibility on the near horizon from the main Auckland Castle approach, suggests it was constructed as an eye-catcher.

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.


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 £8000 on the Castle and park during the period 1752 to 1771. Ewan Christian undertook a refurbishment of Castle and park during the 1880s for Bishop Lightfoot.

Varying depths of wells were commonplace in the past, and their architectural treatment at the surface, the well-head or well-house, varied from the rudimentary to the elaborate depending on their context. This well head is considered to have been constructed in the mid-C18 as part of a system that previously supplied Auckland Castle with water, and it is marked as ‘The Reservoir’ on Dixon’s 1772 map of Auckland Park. It is indicated as 'tank' on all editions of the Ordnance Survey map from 1857 to the mid-C20, when it is then annotated 'shooting box'. Its overall ornamental design points to its construction as an eye-catcher easily visible on the near horizon to the bishops and their visitors approaching the castle along the main drive from Park Head. A small rectangular opening on the north-west side (a former inspection point) is thought to have been blocked in the C20. Water for this well probably came from a nearby cistern (National Heritage List for England 1196450). Shallow linear depressions in the surrounding ground are thought to indicate buried boxed drains or pipes approaching the well head from the east and leaving it from the south-west.


Well head, mid-C18.

MATERIALS: ashlar, with some rustication.

DESCRIPTION: not inspected, information from other source. Situated within the north-east section of the park, it occupies a location that is easily visible on the near horizon to the bishops and their visitors approaching the castle along the main drive from Park Head. It takes the form of a pyramid standing about 2m high with grooved rustication. Its lowest course is cut in one with the flat coping of a square ashlar plinth, and there is a recessed band below the coping. There is blocked, small rectangular inspection place on the north-west face of the plinth, with an iron door or grill catch to its right side.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Roberts, M, Pevsner, N, Williams, E, The Buildings of England: County Durham, (2021), 140


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

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 11 Jun 2002
Reference: IOE01/06970/27
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Alan Bradley. Source Historic England Archive
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