During my summer break
my friend and I
visited The Bowes Museum
in the market town of Barnard Castle
Fleur de Lys garden
John and Joséphine Bowes founded The Bowes Museum. John, the son of the 10th Earl of Strathmore, was born in Teesdale in 1811. His mother was a commoner, Mary Millner, who lived with the Earl to all intents as his wife for many years. The Earl married her just 16 hours before his death in an attempt to save his son’s succession. 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.
John was educated at Eton and became a very successful business man who invested heavily in the coal reserves on his land and bred four Derby winners. From 1847 he spent his time between France and England.
Joséphine Bowes was born in 1825. She was an actress in the Théatre des Variétés, Paris, which John Bowes owned. She shared John’s love of the arts and they married in 1852.