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Find out more about our Norman Chapel Conservation project

Find out more about our Norman Chapel Conservation project
Read more about this important heritage project
Surveying the stonework of the pillars in the Norman Chapel

The Chapels 

The College is fortunate to possess two historic chapels as reminders of the College’s Christian heritage. The Norman Chapel dates from the 11th Century; the Tunstall Chapel, established in the 1540s, was used by the Prince Bishops of Durham as their private chapel. Both chapels are used for worship within the College and our chaplain, the Rev'd Dr Sam Hole, has responsibility over the services held in them as well as the chapel(s) life more broadly. 

The chapels are open to all members of the College, everyone is invited to participate, every student can apply for the scholarships for the various positions available (see below). Students from a diversity background are particularly encouraged to do so. We are committed to make the chapels safe places where the diversity of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social, economic, and faith background, is to be honoured and celebrated.

Follow the chapels on: 


All members of the College and University, and of the wider public, are most welcome at all chapel services.       

As we lament the discriminations actively present in society and in the Church itself, and as we recognise our complicity in maintaining these discriminations in place and our power to dismantle them, we commit ourselves to make the chapels safe and transformative places where the diversity of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social, cultural, economic, and faith backgrounds, is to be recognised, honoured, and celebrated.

-The Chaplain

The regular schedule in Chapel is:

Tuesday: either Sung Compline or Taizé, 8pm
Thursday: Choral Evensong, 6pm
Sunday: Choral or Said Eucharist, 5pm

A brief service at ‘the close of the day’ (to ‘complete’ the day), which includes a few sung parts (Nunc Dimittis and an anthem), a brief scripture passage, and said prayers.

A brief service from the community in Taizé (Burgundy, France). It is punctuated by songs sung by the whole congregation. The songs only have one or two verses repeated several times to invite meditation. These songs, regular silence, informal prayers, a brief scripture passage (in various languages) are characteristic of this service.

This sung Evening Prayer service is found in the Book of Common Prayer. The Chapel Choir sings many of the parts of the service. In chapel we often have a sermon right after the anthem, with special guest preachers on a particular theme. The theme this term is: ‘liberation’.

EUCHARIST, 5pm in the Tunstall Chapel.
The service is usually according to the Church of England’s Common Worship Order One. Literally, ‘eucharist’ means to give thanks. It is a specific service at which we give thanks to God, we remember Christ’s death and resurrection, and the gift of new life. We share, through communion, the bread and the wine, the body and blood of Christ, as a sign that we are together the body of Christ, the Church itself.

The Chapels and The Chapel Team

University College has two chapels: the eleventh century Norman Chapel at the foot of the Norman Gallery stairs, and the larger Tunstall Chapel, dating from 1540, which can be reached via the courtyard clock tower stairs. 

If you wish to use the chapel for rehearsals, music practice, to rent it for a concert, etc., this needs to be agreed with and booked via the chaplain.

If you wish to be involved in the Chapel (to read, set up, suggest ideas, curate special services, etc.), please come talk to members of the Chapel Team after a service.

The Chaplain is here to serve all members of the community, students and staff alike, of all faiths and none. He is part of the Durham Chaplaincy Network and is happy to introduce you to a Chaplain of another faith or belief if you wish to. Please reach out for any question you may have about faith, religion, or just if you wish to talk to somebody who can listen.

Sam is also part of the Student Support Team in College and can provide support in that regard to all students of the College. 

The Choir 

The Choir of University College, Durham (informally called Castle Chapel Choir) is an auditioned ensemble of sixteen choral scholars and is regarded to be one of the finest choirs in the North East. Led by a student team comprised of the Director of Music, Senior and Junior Organ Scholars and Choir Administrator, singers are a mix of undergraduate and postgraduate members of the University and represent diverse backgrounds and areas of study. The Choir has a busy schedule, leading weekly services of Evensong, Eucharist and Compline in Durham Castle’s two chapels – the eleventh century Norman Chapel and sixteenth century Tunstall Chapel – as well as numerous special services, concerts, recordings and tours. 

In July 2020, the Choir released their second CD in three years, ‘In Memoriam’ (featuring Durufle’s Requiem and Parry’s ‘Songs of Farewell’) on the Priory Records label; tracks from the CD were later broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Upcoming plans include further recordings with Priory Records, broadcasts of Choral Evensong, and a Festival of Early Music.

Choir Instagram

Choir Youtube

Joining the Choir 

Auditions take place in Freshers’ Week each year and consist of range and oral tests, two contrasting sight-reading extracts (one polyphonic, one modern) and a short interview with the Chaplain, Director of Music, Organ Scholars, and other members of the Chapel Community. Good sight-reading ability is essential. Previous experience is useful but not essential.