The Bowes Museum is one of the North of England’s treasure houses that includes Fashion and Textiles, Paintings, Furniture, Silver and Metals, Ceramics and Sculpture from all the European countries spanning five centuries. With the largest collection of Spanish paintings outside London it holds Designated status from the government in recognition of the outstanding significance of the building and its objects.
Part of Herriot Country Tourism Group’s visitor attraction partnership with Yorkshire’s Great Houses, Castles and Gardens, The Bowes Museum stands proud in the market town of Barnard Castle in Teesdale, to the North of Herriot Country.
Behind its magnificent exterior in the style of a French chateau, there’s a wonderful story. It was purpose built by John and Joséphine Bowes who between 1862 and 1874 purchased an astounding 15,000 objects and the Bowes’ enthusiasm was immeasurable.
Some examples of the marvellous items in the diverse collections include marquetry by André-Charles Boulle, porcelain produced by Sèvres and paintings by Canaletto and Goya. There’s a wonderful Medieval altarpiece that is seen opened and closed each day just as worshippers did in its original church on feast days 500 years ago. The Silver Swan musical automaton is a ’must-see-and-hear’ that performs daily at 2pm It was bought by the Bowes’ in 1872.
As well as the collections, there are regular guest exhibitions and the Free 30-minute talks by a curator or guest speaker make them come alive.
Families are very welcome at The Bowes Museum where there is a varied programme of drop-in workshops and creative hands-on fun. A fully accessible Woodland Walk offers a fabulous nature trail to explore and enjoy an adventure with a fun activity trail to discover the collection. There are activity draws around the Museum and opportunities to try out dressing up and colouring.
There’s a popular café and shop and visitors to The Bowes Museum today can not only learn of John and Joséphine’s wonderful story and marvel at the fascinating collections but can also enjoy an exciting programme of exhibitions. The magnificent legacy that John and Joséphine left to the people of Teesdale retains its charm and intrigue, yet sympathetic developments have made the attraction a popular, vibrant, and exciting day out for all.
James Herriot and his family were attracted to museums like The Bowes Museum and anyone visiting will enjoy learning the Bowes’ story and their fascinating collections and which the tradition has continued into the 21st Century.
The Bowes Museum should be on anyone’s itinerary when planning a visit to Herriot Country.