Many fascinating internal features and fittings can be found inside Durham Castle.
One of the highlights of any visit to the castle is the Norman Chapel, which was built in the 1080s and is today the oldest standing building in Durham City. The chapel’s six supporting pillars are carved from local stone and are richly decorated, adding to the intimate atmosphere of this beautifully preserved medieval space.
Other impressive internal features include the impressive Norman Arch. The arch would have served as an entrance to the castle and is one of the finest examples of a Norman architecture in the country.
Within the 16th Tunstall Chapel, a beautiful stained-glass window by the Victorian designer Charles Kempe depicts the Tree of Jesse and portrays the family and ancestors of Christ. Kempe also designed and produced the large stained-glass window in the Great Hall to commemorate Durham University’s 50th anniversary.
The interior of the Castle has evolved over time and adapted to changing tastes and fashions. By way of example, the notice board in the Tunstall Chapel is surmounted by two wooden carvings, which are recycled from the old 18th century panelling of the Chapel. In addition, if you look at the seats in the Chapel, you will find the 16th century misericords that Bishop Tunstall bought over from Auckland Castle. If you look closely at the lights in Chapel, you will see that they contain traditional candles. This was not always the case – until recently these lights were electric.
Other interesting architectural features include the impressive Black Stairs, built in the 1660s. Originally designed as a cantilever or flying staircase, it was soon found to require extra structural support. The intricate carved decoration of the staircase reflects the fashions of the period when it was built and incorporates representations of exotic pineapples, even if these don’t look exactly like the pineapples we know today!
A coloured photograph of the mermaid in the Norman Chapel. She is depicted with long hair, a tail and with her hands held up.
Close-up photograph of the detail on the Norman Arch at Durham Castle, with geometric and concentric decoration and detail.
Photograph of the Tunstall Chapel and the stained glass at Durham Castle, at the centre is the altar and stained glass. At the sides are the pews and panelled walls.
Photograph of the pineapples on the Black Stairs at Durham Castle. On the right is a door and on the left is a carving with is meant to represent a pineapple.