What is Kynren?
A brief note by way of preface: “Kynren” is formed from the Anglo-Saxon word “Cynren” (the C is pronounced as K) which means family, stock or even race and gives us our words “kin” and “kindred.”
At Flatts Farm below Auckland Castle just outside the County Durham town of Bishop Auckland, the charity Eleven Arches has created a massive showground with a stage the size of five football pitches, an artificial lake with underwater hydraulics, water jets and even walkways just under the surface so it looks as though the people standing on them are walking on water, large buildings, including a castle and a house, a bridge and even a railway line.
All this for an outdoor spectacular of the kind which we saw at the 2012 Olympics, featuring a cast and crew of more than 1,000, as well as numerous animals including many horses, sheep and even geese.
Facing all this is a grandstand seating 8,000 people.
This is Kynren, subtitled An Epic Tale of England, the story of 2,000 years of English history from the Roman occupation to the end of World War II, taking in the Vikings, the Normans, the Middle Ages, the Tudors, the Georgians, the Industrial Revolution, Victoria’s Jubilee and both World Wars. Lasting 90 minutes, it will be performed every Saturday night in July and August and part of September (the last showing will be on 17 September).
Produced by Eleven Arches, Kynren is created by French company Puy du Fou, recognised as the world leader in this type of production. The man behind Eleven Arches is philanthropist and investment manager Jonathan Ruffer, who sees Auckland Castle as the centre of the regeneration of Bishop Auckland, County Durham and the entire North East region. He bought the castle and transferred it to a trust, the Auckland Castle Trust (ACT), and then Anne-Isabelle Daulon was hired in December 2012 to direct the development of this land. She created Eleven Arches in 2013 with Ruffer and its development was transferred into a separate charity in May 2014.
£35m has been invested in the production, funded entirely through donations from trusts and private individuals. The aim is for it to be revived every summer and become an important tourist destination. Tickets vary in price from £55 (children £41) for the best seats, reducing to £47 (£35), £40 (£30), £32 (£24) and £25 (£19) the further away from the centre they are, although everyone should be able to see everything. The grandstand is not covered so waterproofs should be carried. Umbrellas are not permitted.
The participants, who range in age from 3 to 87, are all volunteers and come from Bishop Auckland, Weardale and the surrounding areas and are from all walks of life.