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Social History

Whilst much of the history of Durham Castle relates to the Prince Bishops, the more recent past is about those who have studied, worked, and visited the castle. Many of these have contributed to the rich social history of this living and working building.  

Given to Durham University in the 1836 by the Bishops of Durham, Durham Castle has since amassed a social history collection spanning nearly 200 years. These objects range from sporting memorabilia and concert programmes, to photographs of important events and commemorative objects from the annual June Ball.   

Students, staff and visitors alike have contributed much to our collection, donating items that have enriched our understanding of the ever-changing nature of those who live, work and visit the Castle. Highlights include several enamel pin badges, given to those who work at the June Ball each year, and a bell board that used to hang in one of the offices in the early 20th century.  

Sport is a key aspect of the lives of many students, and we have objects that reflect the victories and successes of college teams; from trophies, shields and pennants to hockey caps and rowing oars!   

Another highlight in the Castle’s collection is the Maundy Money that was given by Queen Elizabeth II when she last visited Durham Castle.   

College archive

The formal University College archive, including past student records is held by Archives and Special Collections at Palace Green Library.   

A coloured photograph showing 9 pins, each pin is a different colour and shape.

The pins given to staff who worked at June Ball.

A coloured photograph of the inner workings of the bell board.

The inner workings of the bell board that once was used to call other staff.