The Bowes Museum > Join & Support > Individual Support > Leave a Legacy

Leave a Legacy

“I am possessed of a large number of pictures, books, works of art, curiosities, antiquities and articles of furniture of great rarity and value, and I am desirous that the same should not be dispersed but should form one collection and should be placed in a museum and dedicated to the use of the public”

From Joséphine’s Will, 1871

Whether a first-time visitor or a long-standing friend of The Bowes Museum it is likely that having experienced its magic, the Museum means something special to you.

Left as a gift to the nation, through the remarkable vision of John and Joséphine Bowes, the Museum has captured the imagination of visitors of all ages since 1892.

Legacies and bequests have enabled the staff and Trustees of The Bowes Museum to add to the collections, conserve works of art, and develop its galleries and facilities, ensuring that the Museum continually meets its charitable objectives of advancing the public’s understanding and enjoyment of arts, crafts, design and history. The Catalyst Endowment of £2M provides an annual income in perpetuity and it is our plan to grow this fund over the coming years. Leaving a legacy to the Endowment will secure the enjoyment of the Museum for future generations. 

The Friends of The Bowes Museum
has been a constant supporter of the Museum, generously donating significant sums to the Museum from its growing membership. If you would prefer to leave a legacy or bequest to the Friends, it is equally beneficial to us.

Including The Bowes Museum In Your Will
There are two ways in which you can benefit The Bowes Museum in your Will; by leaving a sum of money (legacy), or by leaving a specific item or items (a bequest). There are several kinds of legacy/bequest:

Pecuniary Legacy
This is an exact sum stated in your Will (eg. £1,000). Inflation will inevitably reduce the value of such a gift over time, so it is a good idea to review your pecuniary gift regularly.
Suggested wording for a gift:
“I give to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NP (Registered Charity Number 1079639) the sum of £....... for general purposes.”

Residuary Legacy
The residue is whatever is left from your estate when all other debts, tax (if any), expenses and the individual legacies of gifts have been paid. You can bequeath the entirety to The Bowes Museum or divide it among a number of beneficiaries. Residuary legacies are of particular benefit to The Bowes Museum, as the value of the gift will not be reduced by inflation over time.
Suggested wording for a gift:
”I give to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NP (Registered Charity Number 1079639) ..............% of my residuary estate / all of the residue of my residuary estate to be used for The Bowes Museum for its general purposes.”

Specific Bequest
This can be a bequest of land, property and shares, or a gift of museum quality works of art such as furniture, jewellery, paintings etc. If you are considering gifting a work or works of art, we would encourage you to discuss it with us in advance, so that you are aware of how we may use your bequest. Where we cannot benefit from the gift directly – by acquisition to our own collections, for example – we may wish to benefit from its sale to a more fitting venue.
Suggested wording for a gift:
I give to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NP (Registered Charity Number 1079639) my ..................................... (full description of item and its location).

Reversionary Bequest
You can choose to leave assets to be used by a named beneficiary during their lifetime, after which the assets pass to The Bowes Museum.

Conditional Bequest
This allows The Bowes Museum to benefit from your estate should any or all of your named beneficiaries pre-decease you.

A Gift For A Specific Purpose
If you wish to state the area you want to support with your gift, we suggest the following wording:
“I give to The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NP (Registered Charity Number 1079639) [state the sum of money or the % residue] and request without obligation that it be used by The Bowes Museum in:
Acquisition of objects for the permanent collections
Building and Gardens Maintenance

Acknowledging Your Support
We will acknowledge all benefactors by listing their names on our ‘Memorial Wall’ in the Museum. This acknowledgement will not, of course, disclose the size of your gift, though if you would prefer not to be named, or would like to dedicate your gift in memory of another, we will be happy to oblige.

Making A Tax-Effective Will
Bequests to charities such as The Bowes Museum are exempt from Inheritance Tax. If the value of your estate is over the Inheritance Tax threshold, it will be liable to the current rate of Inheritance Tax even if you have made a will. A gift to The Bowes Museum can lower that excess, which could reduce or even eliminate tax which might otherwise be payable out of your estate. Your solicitor or tax adviser will be able to explain this and provide advice on other legal and financial issues surrounding your estate.

If you would like to discuss leaving a Legacy or Bequest to The Bowes Museum or other ways of support, please contact:
Alison Nicholson, Fundraising Officer, on 01833 690606 ext 217 or email>

Information about closing

19 March 2020

Unfortunately, due to the continuing development of the Coronavirus situation, The Bowes Museum is now closed until further notice. The health and wellbeing of both our customers and our staff is our priority.

Where events can be rescheduled we will endeavour to do so but please be assured that all ticket holders for cancelled events have options on refunds and can contact, however by not requesting a refund you would be making an exceptionally generous and much appreciated charitable donation to The Bowes Museum during these unprecedented times.

Whilst the Museum is closed, we will be working on other ways of sharing our story and collection via our digital platforms. Stay posted for online videos, conversations and more.

We thank you for your patience and your continued support for The Bowes Museum during this unpredictable time. We hope to come back to you with a reopening date shortly, for now, please stay safe and help protect the vulnerable.

25 March 2020

It is with great sadness that The Bowes Museum has taken the decision to temporarily close all gates to the grounds following a spate of vandalism around the parkland.

Since the Museum closed on Wednesday 18 March the benches in the story area have been damaged, the totem pole pulled over and broken, there have been attempts to pull out outdoor trail markers and branches have been pulled down and plants uprooted.

The Museum is working with the police to find the perpetrators of these actions. PC Michael Banks of Durham Constabulary said "This is a shameful piece of criminal damage within the grounds of a historical location in Barnard Castle anyone with information please contact Durham Constabulary quoting reference number DHM23032020-0189"

The Director of The Bowes Museum, Adrian Jenkins, said: "It is a shame that the actions of a few will have an impact on many but this closure also ties in with the latest government advice to stay at home to help restrict the spread of coronavirus and the Museum is following in the footsteps of other organisations who have closed gated parks and gardens.

There are tips from our education officer on the Museum's social media platforms for keeping the kids, and yourselves, entertained while in isolation and we'll be updating the website regularly with new and exciting information about the collection.

In the meantime, please keep safe and we look forward to welcoming you back to the Museum and grounds when it reopens."

You can keep up to date with developments here or on our Facebook and Twitter.

We’ll be back…