New look and new taste to Cafe Bowes
New look and new taste to Cafe Bowes

New look and new taste to Cafe Bowes

New menu launched to celebrate refurbishment of Museum cafe

The Bowes Museum is delighted to show off its new look Café Bowes complete with a brand-new delicious menu featuring lots of fantastic quality locally sourced seasonal produce and which is free to visit without having to pay a museum entry charge.


The Museum worked with the Teesdale based interior designers Helen Hawkins and Sam Gibbons of Brown & Baxter.  They drew inspiration from photographs of the Museum’s past to create a classic, timeless French style that makes you feel welcome the moment you walk through the door with its calming and relaxing ambience.


Beautiful linen roman blinds in shades of blue and sea holly were sourced from the British fabric design house Lewis & Wood with contemporary paint colours bringing an elegant freshness and warmth to the colour scheme complemented by lovely soft furnishings, pretty ceramics and plants.  Printed screens decorated with images of the Museum entrance hall from the early 1900s now separate the ever-popular window tables.


Designer, Helen Hawkins, said: “We really enjoyed working on such a lovely project with the operational team in such a prestigious, impressive and important building in Barnard Castle and it was important to us to reflect its heritage and history in the design. Café Bowes is Barnard Castle’s best kept secret, where you can enjoy a refreshing drink or delicious meal in such elegant surroundings – it really is a discerning destination and well worth a visit.”


In the kitchen, Head Chef, Ben Parnaby, has been joined by Second Chef, Dawn Gibson, who headed the team at the Rose and Crown at Romaldkirk some years ago and between them they have more than 30 years of experience working in top hotels and restaurants.   


Head Chef, Ben Parnaby, said: “We are really fortunate to be surrounded by lots of amazing local suppliers, producing the best of flavours that we’ve incorporated into our new menu which will be updated every three months to ensure the very best tasting seasonal produce in our dishes.”


Suppliers include meat from Peats’ Butchers in Barnard Castle, cheese from Cotherstone Cheese and Teesdale Cheesemakers and fish from Hodgson’s of Hartlepool, among others.


The fabulous new menu now boasts delicious dishes including Bowes Rarebit, with ‘Old Peculiar’ Wensleydale cheese, Barnard Castle beer and bourbon & black treacle bacon; Pasta Bolognese made with both Teesdale fell lamb and rare breed pork; and not forgetting the ever-popular Smoked Haddock Chowder.  Drinks include a Bowes Special G’N’T featuring Durham gin, beers from Barnard Castle Brewery just yards from the Museum or cider from Orchards of Husthwaite in North Yorkshire.


Alternatively, if guests are just after a light bite then there is a selection of tasty in house homemade cakes, biscuits and scrumptious scones that can be accompanied by a selection of teas, coffees and soft drinks or even a glass of bubbly.


Entry to Café Bowes is free. To access it you go through the main entrance to the Museum, past the reception desk and follow the corridor to your right.  Customers are asked to sign in using the QR code after which the café team will show guests to their table and take their order.  At the end of the meal, a member of the team will take payment at the table.


Café Bowes opens daily at 10.00 and the last orders are taken at 4.00.






Notes to Editors



  • 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,



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