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Bowes Castle.jpg
Bowes Castle
Bowes is located in County Durham
Location within County Durham
Population471 (2011, including Gilmonby)[1]
OS grid referenceNY995135
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtDL12
Dialling code01833
FireCounty Durham and Darlington
AmbulanceNorth East
UK Parliament
List of places
County Durham
54°30′58″N 2°00′32″W / 54.516°N 02.009°W / 54.516; -02.009Coordinates: 54°30′58″N 2°00′32″W / 54.516°N 02.009°W / 54.516; -02.009

Bowes is a village in County Durham, England. Located in the Pennine hills, it is situated close to Barnard Castle. It is built around the medieval Bowes Castle.

Geography and administration[edit]

Civic history[edit]

Bowes lies within the historic county boundaries of the North Riding of Yorkshire, but along with the rest of the former Startforth Rural District it was incorporated into the non-metropolitan county of Durham for administrative purposes on 1 April 1974, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972.

The A66 and A67 roads meet at Bowes.


The Roman name for Bowes was Lavatrae. A Roman fort was located there, which was re-used as the site for Bowes Castle.

The place-name 'Bowes' is first attested in a charter of 1148, where it appears as Bogas. This is the plural of the Old English boga meaning 'bow', probably signifying an arched bridge.[2]

The village church is dedicated to St Giles.

The only pub in the village, the formerly named George Inn owned by the Railton family and now named The Ancient Unicorn,[3] is reputed to be haunted by several ghosts. This 17th-century coaching inn famously played host to Charles Dickens as he toured the local area. Dickens found inspiration in the village academy, which he immortalised as Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby, and the graves of two of the people who inspired characters portrayed by the great author can be seen in Bowes churchyard to this day. William Shaw (1782-1850) was the headmaster of The Bowes Academy, and is said to have been the model for Wackford Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby – they share the same initials. And George Ashton Taylor, who died in 1822 aged 19, apparently inspired Dickens to create the character of Smike in the same novel.

From 1861 to 1962, the village was served by Bowes railway station. Just to the north of the village at Stoney Keld, is the site of the former RAF Bowes Moor, a chemical warfare agent storage site between 1941 and 1947.[4] The Bowes Loop of the Pennine Way goes through the site.[5]

The village is also home to possibly the smallest former working men's club in the country.[citation needed] Now known as Bowes Social Club, it is run by volunteers and is often used as a venue to raise money for local events.


Bowes has a single primary school at the centre of the village, Bowes Hutchinson's C of E (Aided) Primary School.[6]

Notable people[edit]

Thomas Kipling (bap. 1745, d. 1822), dean of Peterborough, was born in Bowes.[7]

John Bailey (1750–1819), mathematician and land surveyor was born in Bowes.[8]

Richard Cobden (1804–65), manufacturer and politician, was schooled in Bowes.[9]


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  2. ^ Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.56.
  3. ^ The Ancient Unicorn
  4. ^ "Tests at former mustard gas site". BBC News. 27 December 2007. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  5. ^ Dillon, Paddy (2017). The Pennine Way : from Edale to Kirk Yetholm (4 ed.). Cumbria: Cicerone. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-85284-906-1.
  6. ^ Bowes Hutchinson's C of E (Aided) Primary School website
  7. ^ Robert Hole, ‘Kipling, Thomas (bap. 1745, d. 1822)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 2 May 2011
  8. ^ T. F. Henderson, ‘Bailey, John (1750–1819)’, rev. H. K. Higton, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 2 May 2011
  9. ^ Miles Taylor, ‘Cobden, Richard (1804–1865)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009 accessed 2 May 2011

External links[edit]