Work has commenced on the restoration of the former Exchequer and Chancery building on Palace Green, Durham. The 15th Century building was commissioned by Bishop Robert Neville whose crest can be seen on the main façade. The Exchequer building is close to both the Castle and the Cathedral and it was used for the administration of the legal and financial transactions of the contemporary period. It is the only administrative building used by the Prince Bishops to survive from the medieval era, and, since the 1850s, has been used as part of Durham University Library. The work on the Exchequer building is the latest phase of the Palace Green Library restoration programme. The building contained a court, and a small dungeon as well. Today, it houses several collections of antique books, including those of Bamburgh Castle, and Martin Routh, president of Magdalene College, Oxford.
The restoration is intended to create state-of-the-art exhibition space, as well as conservation, research and learning facility allowing it to open to the public for the first time. the university plans to open the building to the public with guided tours.
It is gratifying that in the 21st Century such a historic land mark is being restored to their former glory, and in keeping with e cultural heritage of the City of Durham. All too often grand old buildings have fallen to be wrecker’s hammers and excavators. True progress is important but too often the replacement buildings do little to grace the skyline, not only in Durham but across the country. Alongside the Cathedral and the Castle such incongruity would do little for the City. Thank goodness the University are recreating a thing of beauty and magicians alongside the iconic ancient buildings. One hope that visitor from far across the world will join us in marveling at the grace and beauty of this wonderful place.
Durham World Heritage Site is located includes the Durham Cathedral and Castle and the buildings between them.