The Dean of Durham’s residence (until the Reformation, the residence of the Prior) occupies the site of what was formerly the Monks’ Dormitory.
In accordance to the Rule of St Benedict, the prior originally would simply have had in a bed in the communal dormitory. However, following the transfer of the dormitory to its current location in the mid 12th century, the prior must have chosen to stay where he was, and gradually transformed the dormitory into a proper residence.
This has been embellished over the centuries by successive deans. It was sufficiently lavish by the seventeenth century to have hosted King James I on his way to Scotland.
Among the Deanery's most interesting features are:
- Fifteenth-century wall paintings, recently discovered in what had been the Prior’s Chapel, and later seems to have been used as a courtroom.
- The carved wooden ceiling in the King James Room.
- Hand-painted Chinese wallpaper in the Dean’s Solarium, added around 1913.