Businessman donates a princely sum to save historic paintings from being sold off

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PAINTINGS which have hung in a castle in the North of England for more than two centuries received a royal viewing yesterday after being saved for the nation by a massive gift from a philanthropist.

Prince Charles visited Auckland Castle, in County Durham, which has been saved from being sold off by a £15m donation from businessman Jonathan Ruffer.

It means that the Francisco Zurbaran paintings which have hung in the castle since the 18th century will remain open to the public. The building has been transferred to the newly-created Auckland Castle and Zurbaran Trust which plans to turn the former home of the Bishops of Durham into a tourist attraction. Church Commissioners have said they hope Auckland Castle becomes a leading public heritage site bringing tourism and economic regeneration to the area.