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Be the first to see inside The Story

Published June 07, 2024 11.19am

A new visitor attraction celebrating the past, present and future of County Durham will open to the public next week.

The Story opening weekend

The Story seamlessly combines Georgian grandeur with state-of-the-art modern facilities.

We have organised a series of special activities to mark the opening of The Story on Friday 14 June and across the weekend.

Historical re-enactments, pop-up theatre performances, live music and a teddy bears' picnic are just some of the free activities on offer, along with the chance to be among the first to see inside the eagerly awaited new venue.

Located in the recently restored and extended Grade II listed Mount Oswald manor house on the outskirts of Durham City, The Story seamlessly combines Georgian grandeur with state-of-the-art modern facilities.

Bringing together five important collections, it is home to ancient documents and archaeological finds, records of bravery, and life-changing events. This includes six miles of archives charting 900 years of County Durham's history and the entire Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Collection, which has been reunited with the DLI Archive for the first time since 1998.

To stay up to date with the latest news, events, exhibitions and visitor information from The Story, visit The Story and follow @TheStoryDurham on Facebook and X.

Discover more

A free, interactive exhibition space will share the fascinating stories within these collections, and an exciting programme of activities will offer new ways for people to discover and learn more about the people and events that shaped the county.

And, as the new home of the County Registration Service, The Story will provide a place for current and future generations to make their own milestones. Whether that is registering a birth or getting married in one of the venue's elegant ceremony rooms.

Fun activities for all

The Story will officially open on Friday 14 June, with programme of activities for people of all ages taking place from 9am to 4pm on the Friday,  and 10am to 4pm on the Saturday and Sunday.

This will include opportunities to get up close to items from the archives, demonstrations on how to search the digital archives and family activities in the learning studio, including fancy dress and family name research.

Visitors will also be able to explore the permanent exhibition space and a temporary exhibition about the Battle of Kohima.

On the Sunday, there will be even more activities on offer, including:

  • Pop-up comedy performances from the Time Travellers and Edmund & Hilary.
  • Historical re-enactors from John Sadler's Time Bandits.
  • A chance to look around the restored ceremonial rooms.
  • A teddy bears' picnic and an opportunity for children to register their teddies.
  • Live music including the Durham Army Cadet Force Band and Bugles and the first public performance of a specially commissioned song about The Story by the Citizen Songwriters.
  • A competition to name The Story mascot.
  • An exhibition trail.
  • Refreshments in the café.

Incredibly excited 

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, our Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "We're incredibly excited to welcome the public to The Story next weekend. Restoring and extending a Grade II listed building and relocating tens of thousands of historical records and artefacts has been a huge endeavour, but I hope everyone who visits The Story will agree it has been worth it.

"What we have created in The Story is a place where County Durham's heritage is not only preserved but celebrated in a way that inspires people to discover more. A place where people can create and record their own history in a setting befitting of the occasion; and an attraction that will enhance Durham's reputation as the Culture County and boost our visitor economy."

Mount Oswald was built in the early 19th century and was most recently used as a golf club before planning permission for The Story was granted in 2020.

Old meets new

Since then, the building has been carefully restored inside and out. A contemporary and sensitively designed extension has been added with views across the grounds, and 291 solar panels and 60 ground source heat pumps have been installed.

Inside, visitors can experiment with audio and visual devices to interact with exhibitions, and a specialist digitisation studio is allowing The Story team to expand the collections that are available digitally.

A state-of-the-art online collections search is also available both on site and online, meaning people can discover The Story's treasures from the comfort of their own homes, as well as taking advantage of AI features.

The Story has been made possible thanks to support from a number of organisations including The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, The Wolfson Foundation and the Banks Group, which gifted Mount Oswald manor house to the council.


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