Having visited the museum again today I have created a trail around the grounds of the museum itself with each section representing a piece of the timeline of WW1.

The trial is as follows:

  1. The starting place of the trail is the entrance doors to the museum (Symbolic of a soldier going off to war)
  2. Then the trail then moves along to the small woodland, leading to the grass hill. The trail will go behind the hill and up over it (Symbolic of the soldiers running out of the trenches)
  3. Then the trail goes from here to the Woodland Walk (Symbolic of going across the battlefield) following the long and winding path (Symbolic of the soldiers walking to war)
  4. This leads to the small play park (showing what the soldiers fought for, the safety and freedom of future generations) This also makes the walk more family friendly.
  5. The final destination of my trail are the gardens at the front of the museum. This is a beautiful and calming part of the ground with which to end my trail. (This ending location symbolises the peace after the war)


Today has really opened my eyes as to the sheer amount of land that is as much a part of Bowes Museum as the building itself. As I was walking around I felt pulled to certain areas as I felt that they could be related to WW1. I also liked the idea of making the event accessible to people of all ages, this is why the small play park area seemed like such a good additional to the trail, I was unaware of this park being in existence which means that the walk has the potential to show people areas of Bowes Museum’s grounds they were not even aware of.

The VAD Carter Sisters of Barnard Castle


Alice Eleanor Carter and her sister Eva Gertrude were found on the Branard Castle Absent Voters list for 1918.  This is what we discovered when we dug a little deeper…

Alice Eleanor was born in 1878 in Barnard Castle and Eva Gertrude in 1887, two of the ten children of George and Mabel Carter. George Carter was a Surveyor living at 42, Horsemarket, who by the 1891 Census had also started selling ale and porter. George Carter died in 1906 and his widow carried on the business as a mineral water manufacturer. Two sons, Henry and George took over the drinks business as the Carter Brothers.

In 1939, the Carter family were still occupying 42, Horsemarket and running a haulage and removal business.  Eva and Alice both joined the General Service VAD in January 1918.  Alice Eleanor served in the 73rd General Hospital in Trouville, France, as a waitress. She probably worked in the medical staff mess. After the armistice, she was transferred to the General Service VAD Hospital in Nottingham Place, London until July 1919. She received her Victory and British War Medals in 1920. Alice never married and at her death, aged 80 in 1958, was living at 3,Wood Street, Barnard Castle.  The beneficiaries in her will were her widowed twin sister Florence May Boyd and her sister Mabel, who was married to Robert Brown, a retired farmer.  Eva Gertrude was sent to the 59 General Field Hospital in St. Omer, France. This was known as the Northern General Hospital and a major centre for treating the wounded. As the front moved forward, this field hospital transferred to Rouen. Eva was also a waitress, and her pay rate was £26 per annum.  

When the war on the western front came to an end, she was sent to Addington Park War Hospital in Croydon. This hospital specialised in the treatment of typhoid and dysentery. She continued her waitress work until her discharge in April 1919 and in 1920 received her Victory and British War Medals.

In 1921 Eva emigrated to Canada, sailing on the S.S. ‘Megantic’ from Liverpool to Quebec, to take up employment as a housemaid at a school in Brockville, on the St. Lawrence river in Ontario. This was a government sponsored scheme and she arrived in Canada with £10. Perhaps Eva saw little prospect of marriage after the loss of so many men in the war and few employment opportunities. No doubt her wartime experiences away from her market town home, had given her a sense of adventure.


 The Voluntary Aid Detachment was formed in 1909 to serve the Territorial Army but was greatly expanded in 1914 as women responded to the war effort and became known as VAD’s. It is a misconception that all VAD’s were nurses. By September 1915 there was a need to release men for military duties by using women in a broad range of roles including orderlies, dispensers, cooks, domestics, drivers and clerks. 

In 1917, with the pressure to release even more men, the potential of women was recognised by the formation of the Womens Auxillary Army Corps, although still restricted to what was deemed ‘women’s work’.

On the home front, many women were now working in munitions factories and had replaced men in  numerous occupations. These jobs were well paid and it became increasingly difficult to recruit VAD’s. In November 1917 an appeal for more VAD’s went out offering the same rates of pay as W.A.A.C.’s. These non-nursing volunteers were called General Service VAD’s. and this is when the Carter sisters of Barnard Castle entered the service.

By June Parkin, volunteer

We would like to find out more about Teesdale people who were involved in the First World War in any way.  For more information on The Bowes Museum’s WWI project, or to volunteer, go to www.thebowesmuseumww1.org.uk or telephone 01833 690606 ext. 208 (answerphone).

Day Trip at the Museum

Today was my second visit to the museum itself. Like the first time I arrived there, I felt an overwhelming awe at the building. I feel like it will always impress me. In the morning, each of us interns took the time to explore more of the Great War archives. Rupert had set us the task to find five objects or locations which inspired us. At first I found this difficult as I wasn’t sure what it was I was looking for. I discovered little poems, the dead man’s penny, letters IMG_1354  written to say someone had died or gone missing. The lack of emotion in these letters were shocking, and when I thought about how many times a day someone would have written these letters, it is no wonder they become mechanical scripts with blank spaces for names and signatures. 

After lunch, I took the afternoon to explore  the grounds of the museum. This is where I felt true inspiration for the World War I project. I imagined myself as Vera Brittan and the awful things she experienced. I imagined myself as a soldier telling his sweetheart that he was going to war. Taking this time to reflect allowed me to jot down little hints of emotive pieces of writing which I hope to use for my final pieces. Out of the five objects or locations I chose, the ones I took inspiration from today and plan to keep are the Woodland walk and the 1700 style rooms. I am very excited to invest myself in each of the five pieces now.

WW1 Book Group


At the first meeting of the Museum’s WW1 Book Group on Wednesday 11 th May 2016, the following books were recommended:

  • Anthology of poetry from Ivor Gurney and “The Ordeal of Ivor Gurney” by Michael Hurd (an in-depth biography)
  • “The Patriot’s Progress” by Henry Williamson (author of “Tarka the Otte”r), a novel based on his time on the Western Front. Text illustrated with simple yet bold and striking lino-cuts.
  • “Ten Years After” by Sir Philip Gibbs, official war correspondent. A reflection on the war, the post war years and the future
  • “Gardener to Fusilier: Story of James Sadler M.M. 9 th Royal Fusiliers (Service) Battalion, 1914-1918” by James Sadler (his son). Personal war diary entries interspersed with Battalion War Diaries“The Backwash of War” by Ellen N. La Motte. An account of life in a French field hospital in Belgium in 1916
  • “Mud, Blood and Poppycock” by Gordon Corrigan. Examines the established facts and myths about WW1

We didn’t have time to mention other books that had been brought along or suggested, so there’s plenty in store for future meetings. The hour flew past as we discussed a range of topics raised by the recommended books and the short introduction each was given. Perhaps in the future, we’ll also be able to put some time aside to listen to more from the books, particularly the poetry. So there’s plenty still to discuss, and we hope more people will be able to come along to future meetings and let us hear about their chosen book (s).

Further dates:

  •  Friday 17 th June
  • Friday 15 th July
  • Wednesday 10 th August

We’ll meet from about 2.30 for an hour or so, in the Café Lounge in the museum.

For further information, email libraryandarchives@thebowesmuseum.org.uk or phone 01833 690606 ext. 208 (answerphone).

“To Serve King and Country” – The Bowes Museum First World War Commemoration Project Workshops


We are running two FREE informal hands-on workshop sessions on Monday 6th June 2016 in the Reading Room in the museum.  You can come to one or both workshops (lunch not provided).

10.30-12.30     Finding relevant material in record offices and libraries

  • Short introduction
  • Hands-on sessions using various online finding aids
  • Experienced volunteers to lead sessions
  • Question and answer time
  • Help us find relevant records for the project

So if you’ve wondered how you can find out what’s available and where and whether it might be relevant, here’s a chance to have a go, ask questions and come away more confident about using online finding aids and knowing that you’ve helped the project.

2.00-4.00         Family history and WWI

  • Short introduction
  • Hands-on sessions using various family history and WWI online sites
  • Experienced volunteers to lead sessions
  • Question and answer time
  • Help us find out more about some Teesdale people

So if you’ve wondered how you can find out about people serving in the armed forces or as nurses, or in some other way, here’s a chance to have a go, ask questions and come away more confident about using online sites and knowing that you’ve helped the project.

The sessions are FREE but places are limited.  Please book by emailing Caroline.Nilsson@thebowesmuseum.org.uk or telephoning 01833 690606.

Follow-up to Fergus Bowes-Lyon…


Isn’t it strange how stories can sometimes take on a life of their own?

Following the publication of the story of Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother’s brother, in the e-newsletter and the Teesdale Mercury, somebody suggested to me that his link with Teesdale was rather tenuous.  But the appearance of his name on the Roll of Honour tablet in Laithkirk chapel in Lunedale clarifies the situation.  Fergus Bowes-Lyon appears there with the names of eleven other men from the parish.  The Earl of Strathmore was lord of the manor and had a hunting lodge at Holwick, as noted in a printed directory of North Yorkshire and confirmed by staff at Glamis Castle.  Members of the Strathmore family regularly visited the area and presumably Fergus Bowes-Lyon had spent some shooting seasons at Holwick. 


And soon after the story was published, one of the volunteers on the project pointed out this reference in With a machine gun to Cambrai by George Coppard (published 1969):

“Perhaps he [a pal] would find time to fix up a cross made of two bits of wood from an ammo box, and scrawl my name in indelible pencil on it the same as I had seen hundreds of names on similar crosses from time to time.  I remembered a cross I had seen somewhere near Fosse 8, on which read ‘Captain F. Bowes Lyons, Black Watch, 4th son of the Earl of Strathmore.’”

The surname isn’t exactly correct but it’s clearly the same person.  This observation dates from the beginning of October 1916, more than a year after Fergus Bowes-Lyons’ death.

By Judith Phillips

Evaluating your First World War Centenary project

We recently received the following:

‘The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), Sheffield Hallam University has been commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conduct an evaluation of its First World War Centenary activity. An important element of this evaluation is understanding the experiences of people who take part in project activities. In order to do this we are conducting a participants’ survey.

We would appreciate your help in identifying people to complete this survey, by collecting the email addresses of those taking part through volunteering, receiving training, attending events or participating in activities.’

We do not give out the contact details of anyone connected with the Museum’s First World War project without first getting permission. If you agree that your contact details can be handed to Sheffield Hallam University for this evaluation, please let us know by emailing libraryandarchives@thebowesmusuem.org.uk.


The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham


As a local historian and contributor to The Bowes Museums own on-going research into the First World War, Kevin Richardson was a huge support as we first began our project – offering guidance and advice – as well as countless names and pieces of personal information that he had uncovered in the creation of his first book, Evenwood Remembers exploring the lives of the men of his village in WW1.

Kevin’s current website can be found at www.thefallenservicemenofsouthwestcountydurham.com and within its pages you can find a huge range of detailed information, allowing you to explore individual communities and villages as well as come face to face with the past as he uncovers photographs and documentation of those men who died in serving their country during the Great War.

As Kevin himself says “There are 266 names on these village war memorials, some of whom are commemorated on more than one memorial,  Behind every inscription there is a man who was a son or brother, husband or father and the purpose of this website is to tell their story.  It is hoped that many will be able to connect with these men which will go some way to ensure that they will never be forgotten.”

Much like our own work here at The Bowes Museum, Kevin’s work is on-going, reliant on the clues and contributions of members of the public who might have old photographs or documents that help us to piece together the puzzle If you have any information relating to families or individuals from Southwest County Durham, particularly near Evenwood, Hamsterley, West Auckland etc – we’d love to hear from you via libraryandarchives@thebowesmuseum.org.uk.  

Current WW1 Memorial Statues

To further my exploration of what I could produce as an act of remembrance for WW1 I thought I’d look a little deeper into how they are already remembered. The most obvious memorials that people will think of include the Cenotaph in London but I wanted to explore possibly lesser known memorial sites. 

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Located locally in Seaham, this statue that has been affectionately named “Tommy”. Designed by Ray Lonsdale, he intended for the statue to represent the Post-Traumatic Distress that many soldiers faced. Lonsdale also created the structure to represent the minute after Armistice was declared 1918. Fittingly the piece is named 1101 for this reason. The structure stands at 9ft 5ins and weighs 1.2 tonnes.  Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk



This stunning sculpture made of ice shows 5000 small ice structures that were placed on a set of steps in Birmingham to represent the lives tragically lost in WW1. The structures were allowed to melt in the rain but many people decorated them with items such as flowers. This is a truly creative and poignant display that I’d never heard about and to put it lightly the creativity shown here is truly inspiring. 










Sources: http://nativemonster.com/                                                                 












Source: http://flickrhivemind.net/









Source: http://www.derekcrowe.com/


Wreaths of poppies lie at the Cenotaph after the Remembrance Sunday Service in Whitehall








Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/









Source: http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/







Source: http://ctmonuments.net/







Source: http://www.greatwar.co.uk/