This event has now finished.
  • Date and time: Sunday 9 June 2024, 1.30pm to 2.30pm
  • Location: In-person only
    Ron Cooke Hub, Campus East, University of York (Map)
  • Admission: Free admission, booking required

Event details

Join financier, art collector and philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer for an in-conversation event as we explore the power of philanthropy to transform places. Discover why and how he became involved in a regeneration project to turn around the fortunes of Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area, once the seat of the powerful Prince Bishops of Durham.

What first prompted him to acquire Spanish artist Francisco de Zurbaran’s set of extraordinary paintings of Jacob and his sons? Why did he then go on to build a multi-faceted visitor offering that now extends from a historic palace and fort, an art gallery and a faith museum to a mining art museum, a 16-mile-long functioning railway and a spectacular open-air ‘epic tale of England’ that plays to audiences of thousands?

Our discussion will explore the successes and challenges of The Auckland Project and unveil the next stages of the ambitious £200 million initiative, followed by a Q&A.

Find out more about The Auckland Project.

About the speaker

Jonathan Ruffer grew up in North Yorkshire, read English at Cambridge, and qualified as a stockbroker and barrister before moving into private client investment management in 1980 with Dunbar Fund Managers. Formerly Chief Investment Officer of Rathbone Bros plc, he established Ruffer Investment Management Limited in 1994, which transferred its investment business to Ruffer LLP in 2004, of which he remains Chair. In 2012, he purchased Jacob and His Twelve Sons, a series of paintings by Spanish Master Francisco de Zurbarán, as well as the 900-year-old Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland, where they had been housed for more than 250 years. Determined to keep the paintings for the people of the north east and to allow access to the castle - which had previously served as a private palace for the Prince Bishops of Durham - he saw in their acquisition a way to help reinvigorate the region and bring about real change, and established The Auckland Castle Trust. The charity, now known as The Auckland Project, is working to transform Auckland Castle into an arts, faith and heritage destination of international significance. This includes restoration of the Castle itself, as well as a reimagining of its 17th-century Walled Garden, and the development of a diverse and multi-site visitor destination including the Spanish Gallery, Mining Art Gallery, Faith Museum, Binchester Roman Fort and Weardale Railway. The Auckland Project’s sister charity, 11Arches, is responsible for the open-air spectacular, Kynren – An Epic Tale of England.


Venue details

  • Wheelchair accessible