The Bowes Museum is a hidden treasure, a jewel in the heart of beautiful Teesdale. The magnificent building stands proud in the historic market town of Barnard Castle housing internationally significant collections of fine and decorative arts. Purpose built in the 19th century by John and Joséphine Bowes, this Museum has a wonderful story to tell.
The Museum is a unique cultural icon and is one of the most important museums outside London, it’s wonderful history and it’s outstanding collection of treasures span three exquisite floors.
The walls of the picture galleries are covered with a huge collection of world class paintings, many of which are priceless masterpieces, ranging from the smallest and oldest, Sassetta’s Miracle of the Eucharist (c1423) to the eye-popping sized Canaletto-double.
The fashion collections take you on a journey from the 17th to 20th centuries with the displays fashioned in a manner which enable you to get a sense of time. The treasures include The Blackborne Lace collection, one of the largest and most important lace collections in the world. Shoes and garments are displayed on transparent acrylic mounts which enables a glimpse into the making of the garments with a view of the linings and labels which are normally hidden from sight.
Amongst the many collections there are a number of mechanical toys, music boxes and watches with automaton movements but perhaps the most well known and popular attraction is the clockwork Silver Swan which has been resident at the museum since it opened in 1892 apart from when packed away for safety during World War II. Unfortunately The Swan was a casualty of Covid regulations and due to the lack of use at that time is now undergoing maintenance, hopefully she will be performing and delighting visitors again soon.
The permanent collections are complemented by an eclectic exhibition and events programme and there are guided tours most days that you may wish to take advantage of, but places do need to be booked in advance.
Whatever time of day you visit Cafe Bowes is perfect for a quick bite, a leisurely lunch or delicious afternoon tea, and a day at The Bowes Museum wouldn’t be complete without a walk around the 20 acres of gardens, take in everything from woodland walks to the formal parterre garden which completes the look of this stunning French Chateau style building. If you love museums then a visit to The Bowes Museum will not disappoint.
We look forward to welcoming you to St Oswald’s Farm and hope you enjoy all the North East has to offer.