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.
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.
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...
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.