Thursday, 9 May 2013

NORTHERN GRAND TOUR

RABY CASTLE

On Bank Holiday Monday we started our day very early at an antiques fair as usual, but decided not to go straight home afterwards for an afternoon snooze. I'd found out about a new exhibition at the Bowes Museum, not far down the road from Durham, past Raby Castle which looks very important indeed (I feel it is my duty to start bigging-up the North of England). The castle is situated on the outskirts of Staindrop where Jeremiah Dixon is buried - more of Jeremiah anon.


Staindrop's medieval church of St Mary's is large in scale and is sometimes referred to as "The Cathedral of the Dales". It is crammed full of effigies of  eminent local noblemen and women.
                             

A very rare 16th century carved oak tomb.

If these knees could speak...


This 15th century alabaster tomb has some skillfully carved 17th century graffiti. It appears that the disrespectful engraver knocked the head off a tomb figure to form a convenient stool.


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THE BOWES MUSEUM, BARNARD CASTLE.

Rising out of a gently sloping hillside, a few miles down the road, the Bowes Museum is majestic and resembles a grand French chateau. It was built by John Bowes and his wife Josephine, to house their fabulous collection of European decorative arts. Now their treasures are available for everyone to study and are sympathetically curated. See how the beautiful blinds in this gallery echo the fine porcelain figures in their glass cases.
                                  

"All the young dudes."



This is an imaginative display of fine cutlery, not a photo recording a fit of pique on the part of Mr N. 
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The Bowes Museum has regular exhibitions on varied topics and I was intrigued by the latest - this man was unknown to me.


Jeremiah Dixon was a local lad and a very clever chap: an astronomer, surveyor and skilled map maker...
                                  


...he is best known, along with Charles Mason, for determining the boundary line between two warring American states: Philadelphia and Maryland. This became known as the Mason-Dixon Line.
                                               

                                                        
There is no surviving likeness of Jeremiah so we must be content with this jolly impersonation.
                                                                                                           

A little known fact - Mark Knopfler wrote a song about Jeremiah Dixon, here...


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I have to thank fellow blogger Jean for Monday's treat because she gave out a link to a free Art Pass from the Art Fund on her excellent blog Shrimpton and Perfect, which I applied for and used on this museum visit. On her blog she tells us about exciting craft and vintage projects, passes on thrifty tips and much more. To find Jean please click on the link above. 


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14 comments:

  1. Yes... Lets ' big up' the North of England... We have so much to offer and lots I still haven't discovered properly. Think I will be starting at Staindrop and Raby castle...
    Julie x

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    1. If only one had more time!

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  2. These mid 18th century men were really quite remarkable. Many of them came from humble beginnings with little education and yet the discoveries that they made affect us all to this day.
    Was the musical automaton silver swan working during your visit?

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    1. I agree - Jenny Uglow's book about Thomas Bewick is next on my list. (We've seen the swan a few times so took advantage of the emptied galleries while others watched it.)

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  3. Hey Nilly, huge thanks for mentioning the blog, that was very sweet of you.
    Jean x

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    1. Thank YOU for your recent help & advice!

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  4. ~Here! Here! A north west gal here! Still lots of places to visit including here, nilly! Love it when folks come from humble beginnings and make their solid mark in history....thanks for sharing! Love Maria x

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    1. Every year we promise ourselves we'll visit the Lakes - something we've not yet done together!

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  5. Another interesting post nilly with fantastic images. You are straying up north rather a lot these days! Might even get you to Tynemouth one of these days! Bowes is amazing they have incredible textiles x

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    1. Yes, their textiles are wonderful & so beautifully displayed. I wonder if you've seen the textile exhibition, Material Remains - you would love it!

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  6. I love those tombs, fascinting! Cant imagine the people in eternal sleep inside,immortalised in stone. Leanne x

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  7. Big it up, Nilly, big it up! I can't think of anyone doing a better job than you do - how lucky we are that you blog your adventures - it's such a treat to see these wonderful sights.
    The knives photo is inspired - and no pique I'm sure. And I love the little tit-bits of history you weave in and share with us. Axxx

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  8. Thank you Annie - it's a bit of fun!

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