Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle – again – a quilt exhibition

Bowes museum, Barnard Castle,

One of the reasons we visited the Sunderland area so quickly again was because we discovered too late that there was a quilt exhibition on there, we had to go home before we could see it. So we drove back down there before the exhibition ended in late November. As you can see from the photo above the museum is very grand, and built in the French style as the architect was French.

The top floor of the museum housed the quilts. When I think of quilts from the North-East of England it’s the one piece of fabric Durham quilts which are decorated with all over stitching that I envisage, so I was surprised that they also have what they call strippy quilts. The quilts date mainly from the early 20th century.

north-east Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

And the more traditional patchwork quilts. I must admit that I started to make a patchwork quilt about 40 years ago, using hexagons, I didn’t get very far with it and bits are still languishing at the bottom of one of my many craft baskets!

Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

So I am filled with awe when I see patchwork quilts, I suspect that they would be easier to make if it was a communal effort though.

Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

The quilts below are proper Durham quilts – I believe. No patching together but still an awful lot of sewing involved.

Durham Quilts , Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

Below is an intricate quilt design and matching curtain. Pink,blue and orange seem to have been very popular colours, I suppose they brightened up what was otherwise quite a dark existence.

Patchwork Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

Patchwork Quilts, Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle

I must admit that I thought that the exhibition would have been bigger than it was, but it was worth seeing and there is an interesting permanent exhibition of period women’s clothing from the 16th century to Mary Quant and Laura Ashley. I took lots of photos of the clothes, but they have all disappeared from the camera somehow, quite spooky really.

The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, England

When we visited Glamis Castle (childhood home of the Queen Mother who was a Bowes Lyon) a couple of months ago it led to us planning a visit to The Bowes Museum which was set up by relatives of hers.

The museum’s most famous artefact is a pure silver automaton swan which dates from 1772, it’s a replica of a female mute swan. If you just want to see her moving you can skip to 4.50 on the You Tube video below. The swan catches a silver fish and eats it, but of course swans don’t eat fish as they are vegetarians! The silver work is amazing though.

You can read more about the museum here.

Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England

At the second time of trying we actually managed to get into Barnard Castle, during our first visit to the town they were only allowing pre-booked visits for some Covid reason, I think that was taking things a wee bit far given that the entire place is outdoors – and it’s very easy to socially distance. You can see the photos we took of the castle from the outside here. The whole town became sort of notorious during the first pandemic lockdown as Dominic Cummings got himself into a real pickle over his illegal visit there – to test his eyesight.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I managed to take when we were there again in September. The oldest parts of the castle date back to 1093.

Interior of Barnard Castle, Teeside

Interior of Barnard Castle, Teeside

It’s mainly a ruin but there are some massive walls still standing.

Interior of Barnard Castle,Teeside

Interior of Barnard  Castle, Teeside

You can see that the town has been built around the castle, it’s very much in the centre of the town which has the same name as the castle.
Interior of Barnard Castle, Teeside

Interior of Barnard Castle, Teeside

I obviously didn’t take the photo below as that’s me down there!

Interior of Barnard  Castle, Teeside

I did take the photo of the bridge below though. I love old bridges, despite this one being old it is very well used and I had to wait a while before I could get one of it with no cars on it.
Bridge from Barnard Castle, Teeside

If you click on the photo below you will be able to read the information on the board. I’m glad we were able to get into the castle at last – and just about had the entire place to ourselves. I think there was one other visitor there. It felt very safe anyway.
Barnard Castle info Board

Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England

It’s a couple of weeks since we were down in County Durham for a few days, one of the places we visited was the town Barnard Castle but we didn’t manage to get into the actual castle because strangely English Heritage had a strict booking policy so despite the fact that we are members of Historic Scotland and would have got free entry – we didn’t manage to get in at all. It’s particularly weird as there were hardly any other visitors and as the castle itself is a ruin it’s all in the open air – hopefully we’ll get in there one day. At least we got some photos and had a walk by the river and around the town.

Barnard Castle,County Durham, castle ruin

The castle looms high above the town as you would expect. Of course it has been in the news recently as the place that Dominic Cummings visited to ‘test his eyesight’ when the rest of us were adhering to a strict lockdown and staying very local!
Barnard Castle,Teesdale, Counry Durham, castle ruin

Barnard Castle stitch, County Durham, castle ruin

The castle was founded in the 12th century and is in a lovely position high above the River Tees as you can see below. I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen the Tees, I love rivers and this one is very scenic in this area anyway and looks unpolluted as far as the naked eye is concerned.

Barnard Castle + Bridge, County Durham, River Tees

You get a good view of the river when standing on the old stone bridge – as you can see.

River Tees, Barnard Castle, County Durham

The town itself is a nice place to visit with interesting looking independent shops – if you’re that way inclined. I only bought a book (surprise surprise) which I got from the Oxfam charity shop.