The Bowes Museum > Collection > Library & Archive > Explore The Archive > Quick Guide to the contents of the Archives

Quick Guide to the contents of the Archives


  • John Bowes’ letters to and from family, friends, land agents, solicitors, business partners, art dealers etc covering estate management, political activity, horse racing, coalmining business, properties, life in Paris during the Franco-Prussian War and Commune 1870-1871, museum collections and building the museum 1810s-1880s
    NB. The Strathmore Archives and The Bowes Museum archives at Durham Record Office include associated material
  • Bills from art dealers in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium and England (inc material now in museum) 1860s-1880s inc material bought at Paris Exhibition 1867, London Exhibition 1871
  • Household bills 1850s-1880s
  • Bills from building suppliers etc, inc Monbro, under M. Pellechet for work on properties in Paris and Louveciennes 1850s-1860s
  • Sale and exhibition catalogues 1850s-1880s
  • Plans for museum by M. Pellechet and Mr Watson 1860s onwards
  • Records of Théâtre des Variétés, Paris in which John Bowes had a financial interest 1847-1855
  • Material relating to earlier members of the Bowes family inc Sir George Bowes (16th century), Mary Eleanor Bowes (18th century)
  • Trustees of the museum records inc minutes, financial, legal matters etc from 1880s
  • Curators’ correspondence from 1880s
  • Exhibition files from 1970s
  • Staff records – wages, applications etc to about 1950s

Click here to return to the Explore the Archive page.

The Bowes Museum is closed!


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.

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 Caf� 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.

Do please remember, however, that the Museum�s park and grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 � 4.00 daily, and that we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, clues can be found here.

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.