HNS Conference 2020 Excursions

There will be two optional excursions before and after the conference. One will be to the Castle and Cathedral of Durham, and the second will be to the nearby Bowes Museum.

1. Friday 11th September 14:00 to 17:00

Durham Castle and Cathedral

Durham Cathedral, or “The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham” to give it its official title is the final resting place of the relics of St. Cuthbert.

Brought with Cuthbert to Durham were the head of Saint Oswald of Northumbria, and some bones of Saint Aidan and other Lindisfarne saints.

The Cathedral stands side by side with Durham Castle, on a prominent site encircled by wooded slopes and the the River Wear, visible for miles.

The Norman Castle which now occupies the site was for 800 years the home and seat of the “Prince Bishops” a concept unique in British history.

The Cathedral and Castle were together awarded World Heritage Site status in 1986.

A tour of these two iconic buildings is offered as an optional extra on Friday afternoon. A bus will pick up from Collingwood College and the Conference hotels at around 2 p.m. returning around 5 p.m.

Please bear in mind that Durham is a city on a very steep hill. The bus will stop at the nearest point allowed for the Cathedral and Castle but it will involve a walk of approximately five minutes including some steps.

The tour is subject to a minimum of 30 delegates or non delegate partners booking and the price is £15.00 per head which includes entry tickets to the Castle.

2. Sunday 13th September 14:30 to 18:00

Bowes Museum

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, the Museum has a wonderful story to tell.

John was the illegitimate son of the 10th Earl of Strathmore and was born in London. His mother was a commoner, Mary Millner, who worked on the Earl’s Teesdale estate and ended up living with the Earl to all intents as his wife.

The Earl married her just 16 hours before his death in an attempt to secure his son’s succession. The Earl’s brother, Thomas, challenged the right of John to be the rightful and legitimate heir to the Strathmore title and estates. A decree by the Scottish Courts five years after the 10th Earl’s death stated that the marriage was legal, but as the prties were not living in Scotland they were unable to legitimize John and the Earldom and Scottish Estates passed to Thomas as the 11th Earl but John inherited the English Estates.

John seemingly found life in Victorian England as an illegimate son somewhat difficult and moved to Paris where he met an actress (didn’t they always in this period!) Joséphine Benoîte Coffin-Chevallier. J Two very long court cases ensued, finally settling the Durham estates on John, but not recognising him as the legitimate heir to the Strathmore title.

Joséphine was born in 1825. She was an actress in the Théatre des Variétés, Paris, owned by John Bowes. Joséphine was a talented amateur painter, who shared John’s love of the arts; she was interested in a range of art forms including paintings, ceramics, furniture and textiles. Once the couple married in 1852 they soon began to develop the idea of creating a world-class museum back in John’s ancestral home of Teesdale in order to introduce the wider world of art to the local people.

John and Joséphine ensured that their Museum was filled with treasures; since collecting has continued since the opening, storage and display space comes at a premium. At every turn you can see important and precious works from all over Europe, and each piece has its own story to tell. However, it is the 240 year-old Silver Swan that is the best-loved object in the Museum. The Silver Swan is an English silver automaton, a unique attraction that was bought by the Bowes in 1872. The life size model is still in working order and is operated at the Museum on a daily basis.

A bus will pick up from Collingwood College and the Conference hotels at around 2:45 p.m. returning around 6 p.m.

The tour is subject to a minimum of 30 delegates or non delegate partners booking and the price is £30.00 per head which includes entry tickets to the museum.