Barnard Castle is my home town, you have already heard from me a number of times that growing up in this beautiful little market town I longed to move out, I didn’t ever really appreciate where I lived, though to be fair show me a child that does.
I remember being involved in the bicentennial celebrations for the Bowes Museum and feeling a connection with the place, I romanticised the stories attached to it the most Famous being that John Bowes was building this mansion for this wife Josephine, sadly she died before it was completed she is buried within its grounds.
I viewed this beautiful building as a love letter, and I hoped one day to find someone who would love me so much they would want to build me something that wonderful, little did I know my prayers would be answered not in fact a house or mansion, but a man that can build Lego. Close enough!
I don’t want to make this blog a history lesson, the information about John and his beautiful building are public record and I fully suggest you taking some time to visit. I am particually excited for the exhibition coming to the museum in July for YSL the fashion house, Style is Eternal. To have this in my home town is beyond exciting to me!!
YSL advertising outside the museum entrance.
A little touch of city life coming to my home town. Fashion to me is art, there are some truly beautiful creations its more than just covering your body, it’s an extension of who you are and your personality. Who doesn’t like to dress up?!
Saturday morning my husband was having his hair cut down the road from this lovely building, so I decided rather than wander the street to visit the local coffee shop I would take my camera and get some shots of the building that was so important to my childhood.
I understand the attraction for tourists, who still flock to this museum it’s impressive especially as you first round the corner and there it stands.
I have always had an active imagination, even now as an adult when I people watch I wonder what is going on in those lives and often can start a story in my head. The Bowes Museum was full of possibilities for my imagination, not just because of the tragic love story at its beginning but the almost eerie exteriors lead my mind to create weird and wonderful stories.
This water feature would always scare me as a child, I believed this was a creature that had been stuck in this wall just waiting for a time when it would be free to roam the grounds and eat humans.
The story I made up……
At the time when John Bowes was starting to build this mansion for his beloved wife, there were disappearances happening in the town. Beautiful woman were randomly going missing, the towns folk were so scared that their daughters, cousins, friends would be next that they seldom left their houses, no woman was allowed to travel alone anywhere!
One brave girl who was deeply in love with a boy from a neighbouring town was so frustrated because it meant that she wasn’t able to visit her love and he was not able to visit her. She decided to seek the help of an old woman who was rumoured to be a witch, to ask her to find out what was happening and try to stop it.
The girl pleaded with the old woman until she gave in and cast a spell to reveal the identity of the kidnapper. It was a creature from the other side, half man, half beast. He had stumbled through a hole in the realities and was taking young women back to his world as his prisoners, the portal was right were the Bowes Museum would stand.
Now the girl who was so desperate to see her boyfriend decided to go herself and try to kill the beast, so in the dead of night when the moon was full so she had some light, she took her father’s axe and headed to the grounds. She was startled as she approached the gates by the old crone who begged her not to go, that it wasn’t worth it. The young girl refused and would not change her mind; she was so set on destroying this monster so that life could once again return to normal.
The crone knowing this was a lost cause, then gave to the girl a bag of herbs and a spell to seal the portal with the beast behind it and the two of them crept into the grounds.
Even with the moon light it was still dark, the building work had begun on the mansion so there were unusual shapes everywhere, the girl kept seeing things moving but just out of view, she turned in circles clutching the handle of the axe so tight she started to lose the feeling in her fingertips.
Then she heard it…… the snorting breathing sound close by, then she smelt it, wet vegetation with an underlying smell of sweet rotting meat her stomach lurched. She heard the slow footsteps behind her approaching, but when she turned nothing was there! The crone started to mumble under her breath and a bright light started to emerge from the centre of the grounds,
“There,” She said, “There is where the portal is, you must lead him there, I cannot go any further”
The crone fled, leaving the girl standing on her own clutching that axe, she decided to run heading for that light! The footsteps pounding behind her but the beast never showed himself. Standing on the very spot where the light was strongest she called to him,
“I am not scared, show yourself coward and meet your maker!”
She felt a hand on her arm, spinning her around she started to swing the axe and her other poised to throw the bag of herbs, stopping inches from her beloveds face.
“What are you doing here!?” she cried with relief “how did you even get into town….” She trailed off then she heard movement again, she shouted “We have to go there is a monster here!!”
“I came for you” he replied, running his fingers down her cheek, smiling even with imminent danger, he was calm “I wanted to see you!”
She tried to step back, confusion crossed her face, and she started to shake… it couldn’t be!
The smell of rotting flesh was too much to bear; it was so pungent she almost was sick, it was him she knew it right away her beloved was the monster she was chasing. She took two steps back, dropping the bag of herbs.
“No!” she cried, “Not you, it can’t be you” she tried to run but he held her tightly pulling her closer and closer into the light, closer to the portal and almost certain death.
“I must my love, you have to understand, and I need you all. Come with me” he crooned at her, his voice like warm nectar, and she wanted to go!
Suddenly she wanted to be there with him more than anything in the world; she had come here to fight for her love so why was she fighting him? The axe fell to the floor. She stumbled blindly behind him, closer and closer to the light.
Suddenly there was another bright flash of brilliant white light and swirling smoke surrounded them, and the image of her beloved disappeared in his place was the beast!
Through the smoke on the other side of the light the old crone started to chant, the beast screamed in pain and held on to the girl hard and dragged her onwards to the portal, she began to see the images of the lost girls on the other side, they cried and begged her to run. There was no turning back if she went through.
Like a slap to the face the spell was broken and she was screaming, she didn’t want to go with him, she pulled and pulled to free her hands! The croan’s shouting picked up in speed, not able to make out the actual words but knowing it was working as the beast screamed and started to lose his grip.
As they almost were touching the portal, hands reached out to pull him in, the girl managed to free herself of his grasp, the women on the other side held tightly to the beast pulling him closer to them. He turned to face the girl who had now joined the crone in her chanting, the smoke swirled and engulfed the beast and portal the cries were defining, mixed with the chants of the girl and the old crone. An explosive bang heard for miles around, a blinding flashing light and it was over.
In the spot where the beast and portal had been stood a stone wall, the only thing left was the stone face of the beast, who was struggling so badly to get to the girl he was now eternally stuck between two worlds, his face contorted in anger and pain.
The building went up around the wall, keeping the beasts’ stone face there in memorial to the lost women and their bravery. The young girl never left the town, she dedicated her life to making sure the beast never escaped from the wall until the time of her death……and even now she can be seen kneeling before his face, quietly chanting those words.
That may the musings of a simple pre teen mind but visiting this spot on Saturday brought it all back, I had completely forgotten this story that I believe started as a creative writing exercise for school in a longer format, along with another one of a little girl who lived in the rooms at the top of the building and could often be seen peering out as we played below, that’s for another time =D
The roof where the story of the little girl came from. The window she looked out of.
Some more of the photographs taken on Saturday.
Bye for now xoxo