North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions
North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions

North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions

20 March 2021 - 19 September 2021

The Bowes Museum is delighted to announce that it will be holding an exhibition from March 2021 showcasing some of the remarkable North Country quilts it has added to its collection over the last 20 years.


North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions follows on from the hugely successful North Country Quilts: Legend and Living Tradition, which the Museum held in 2000. 


As well as featuring works picked out for their uniqueness, it will also tell the stories behind some of the quilts, why they were chosen to become part of the Museum’s collection and visitors will also be able to discover more about the cultural tradition.


North Country quilts, also known as Durham quilts, have been made throughout the region for over 200 years and have their own distinctive style and characteristics, including quilting patterns stitched through the layers of fabric to create subtle and understated softly sculptured surfaces.


In many communities, including Teesdale, Weardale and Allendale, quilt making was part of the fabric of rural and industrial life, both as a means of generating income and also as a way of life with communities quilting with friends and family. 


A resurgence in the popularity of the practical craft in recent years has seen contemporary textile artists reference the North Country quilting tradition in their work, facets of which will be reflected within the exhibition.


One of the highlights of the exhibition will be a late 19thcentury strippy quilt made by Hannah Hauxwell’s grandmother, which was bought at auction in 2019.  This is a classic example of a North Country quilt with a bold but simple design and charming cotton prints that captivate the eye.


There will be fine examples of wholecloth and strippy quilts, as well as pieced quilts and coverlets including a pretty mosaic patchwork made by a group of Heighington WI members. One quilt on display will be a beautiful replica of an original 1930s Northern Industries Workrooms (NIW) quilt made by Evelyn Jones and Elsie Gibson, who worked in the NIW ‘factory’ in Barnard Castle and who demonstrated their quiltingskills during the last exhibition. 



The exhibition is being curated by Joanna Hashagen, the Curator of Fashion and Textiles at The Bowes Museum and Dorothy Osler, Author and Exhibition Consultant, who is also writing a catalogue to accompany the show.


Joanna Hashagen, the Curator of Fashion and Textiles at The Bowes Museum, said: “Ihave spent a lot of time carefully acquiringquilts that complement and add to the collection in the last twenty years and this seemed like the right time to share a selection. It is also a way of thanking those who have donated their treasured quilts to The Bowes Museum.I think visitorswill be enthralled by the different quilts in the exhibition and it will show themthe importance and relevance of our cultural textile history.I also hope that the exhibition will inspire some of them to take up and enjoy making patchwork or quilting.” 


Dorothy Osler, Author and Exhibition Consultant, said: “It really is wonderful to be back working with Joanna and the team at The Bowes Museum to help curate what promises to be a fine exhibition, with some simply stand out pieces that highlight how the style of North Country quilting has stood the test of time.”


The Bowes Museum began collecting quilts in the 1930s and has since gained national recognition for the importance of its extensive quilt collection, dating back to the late 1700s.


North Country Quilts: In Celebration of New Acquisitions opens to the public on 20 March 2021 and closes on 19 September 2021.


Admission to the Museum is now by advance booking, tickets for timed entry slots are available from the Museum website: or by calling 01833 690606.


The Museum has been awarded VisitEngland’s “We’re Good To Go” certification.  Hand sanitisation stations and signage reminding people to adhere to social distancing are placed around the Museum and gardens.


The Museum is currently closed due to the national restrictions in England but hopes to reopen from 10 to 5 daily on 3 December 2020 and is usually only closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.




Notes to editors:


  • Due to Covid restrictions, museum closures and furloughed staff; the conservation and photography of the quilts has not yet been completed.  More images will be available in due course.
  • The Bowes Museum was created over 100 years ago by an extraordinary couple, John and Joséphine Bowes.  Together they built up the greatest private collection of fine and decorative arts in the North of England and constructed a magnificent building to house them in. The collection contains thousands of objects including furniture, paintings, sculpture, ceramics, textiles and many other items covering an extensive range of European styles and periods. 
  • The Bowes Museum receives a core funding grant from Durham County Council and as a National Portfolio Organisation receives support from Arts Council England. Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
  • The Bowes Museum has undergone major redevelopment,supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, One NorthEast through the County Durham Economic Partnership, English Heritage, Northern Rock Foundation, The Monument Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Foyle Foundation, The European Regional Development Fund, DCMS/Wolfson Museum and Galleries Improvement Fund, Designation Challenge Fund, The Shears Foundation, The Richard and Suzanna Tonks Family Fund at County Durham Foundation, Durham County Council, The Friends of The Bowes Museum, The Headley Trust, Sir James Knott Trust, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Fenwick Ltd, Mercers Charitable Foundation, Welton Foundation. 
  • The Bowes Museum is a member of the Discover Durham partnership of attractions. Our commitment is to promote Durham as an exciting and vibrant group travel destination and to provide the travel trade with a professional and knowledgeable service: hotline number 03000 262626,




Categories: News

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!

Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.