The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2014 > Laura Ashley, The Romantic Heroine

Laura Ashley, The Romantic Heroine


To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Laura Ashley label, this exhibition encapsulated the vision of the romantic heroine that this iconic designer gave to fashion in the 1960s and 1970s.

A selection of 70 dresses from this era - on loan from the Laura Ashley archive in Wales, the Fashion Museum in Bath and private collections - were displayed. Caroline Peacock, chairman of The Friends of The Bowes Museum, also donated her personal collection of Laura Ashley dresses which she ‘lived in during the 70s.’

The exhibition showed the departure from the knee length and mini-dress styles dominating fashion in the swinging 60s and 70s, instead drawing on the past for inspiration. The trend was unprecedented: a modern take on the Victorian-inspired style enabled women and girls throughout the country to wear the chaste cotton print maxi-dress in earth-hewn colours, harking back to a more pastoral idyll far away from city. It defined the term, ‘The Laura Ashley dress’, furthering the iconic status of the label.

Related Events


‘You Never Wore That Mum!’
1 October, 2.30, £12.00 Adults, £11.00 Friends of The Bowes Museum (includes afternoon tea)

Helen Cannam shares the story of one of her dresses which is on show in the current Laura Ashley exhibition. Booking required on 01833 690606. 

Laura Ashley and Me
15 October, 2.30

Join these gallery talks to hear women’s stories of how they came to own some of the dresses on show in the current Laura Ashley exhibition.

Floral Heaven
15 October, 10.30 - 2.30, (inc lunch and refreshments) £52.50 Adults. £50.00 Friends of The Bowes Museum

Join international florist Jonathan Moseley, who will be demonstrating beautiful arrangements full of autumn colour. Booking required on 01833 690606.

Children’s workshop – Printing Patterns
28 October, 11.00 – 3.00

See the wonderful patterned garments in the current Laura Ashley exhibition before trying out printing your own patterns in this drop in workshop. Children must be accompanied by an adult, for whom normal admission applies.

Laura Ashley and Me
12 November, 2.30

Join these gallery talks to hear women’s stories of how they came to own some of the dresses on show in the current Laura Ashley exhibition.

Much More Than Paper
16 November, 10.00 – 4.00, £48.50 Adults, £47.00 Friends of The Bowes Museum

Create unique gift wrap or bespoke wallpaper with the help of Northern Print. Booking required on 01833 690606.

Festive Fashion
30 November, 10.00 – 3.00, £20.00 Adults 

Join designer Phil Woodhead of Buckley Womenswear to make a Christmas gift or decoration inspired by the current Laura Ashley exhibition. Please bring along a basic sewing kit. Booking required on 01833 690606.

Laura Ashley and Me
3 December, 2.30

Join these gallery talks to hear women’s stories of how they came to own some of the dresses on show in the current Laura Ashley exhibition.

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.