New visitor attraction telling the tale of County Durham’s heritage will open this summer

Feb 16, 2024 | Leisure & Lifestyle

A brand-new visitor attraction telling the tale of County Durham’s heritage will open this summer.

Durham County Council has confirmed that The Story, based at Mount Oswald in Durham City, is scheduled to the public from Friday 14 June.

A brand-new cultural venue and register office for Durham and the wider county, The Story will be housed in the recently restored Grade II listed Mount Oswald manor house, which has been extended to incorporate a purpose-built, contemporary building.

Combining period property restoration with state-of-the-art modern facilities, The Story provides a home for some of the county’s most important heritage collections and an elegant backdrop for the register office, ceremonies, and events.

Home to ancient archives and archaeological finds, records of bravery, and life-changing events, The Story will bring together five historic collections for the first time. Available for everyone, online and in-person, these precious collections chart peoples’ lives from birth to death.

They allow people to see snippets of a person’s life from the moment their birth is registered; their homes and communities; schooling; health; marriage; and celebrations and working life; providing visitors and residents with a unique opportunity to explore the history of County Durham and its people.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: “We are very much looking forward to officially opening The Story and welcoming residents and visitors in the summer. This exciting new venue will bring to life the fascinating history of the county, from prehistory through to the modern day, in the spectacular setting of Mount Oswald.

“This ambitious project will see a world class facility that will be home to some of the county’s most important heritage collections and a place for life-changing events. It supports our commitment to creating new attractions and opportunities for our residents and visitors, and further cements Durham’s position as the ‘culture county’.”

The council’s collection teams are currently packing and moving more than 15,000 objects and almost six miles of archives charting 900 years of local history to the new building. Accessing local and personal histories will be easier than ever before with free exhibitions, activities and talks, enhanced search facilities, and cutting-edge digital tools.

The Story will be the new home for the Durham register office and will offer an elegant wedding and civil ceremony location.

Thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, made possible by National Lottery players, alongside exhibitions there will be an exciting activity programme with storytelling sessions, kids’ takeover days, behind the scenes tours, volunteering opportunities and community projects.

The Story will also be the permanent home for the whole DLI Collection, reuniting it with the DLI Archive for the first time since 1998.