Bowes sits at the western edge of County Durham. Historically Bowes was part of the North Riding of Yorkshire, the Castle was built on the corner of an old Roman fort which guarded the Stainforth Pass (now called Stainmoor), which takes the A66 through the Penines towards Cumbria.
Thereís only one pub in the village, The Ancient Unicorn, which 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, he found inspiration at the local academy which he immortalised as Dotheboys Hall in Nicholas Nickleby.
Dotheboys Hall, formerly the Bowes Academy, a private school for 200 boys run by William Shaw, was visited by Charles Dickens on February 2nd, 1838. Outraged by its disgraceful conditions Dickens, in his novel Nicholas Nickleby, exposed the Academy and its principal (as Wackford Squeers) thereby creating a public outcry that forced many such schools, including the Bowes Academy, to close down. Dootheboys Hall is just behind the Castle, and many of the boys who died are buried in this churchyard. On the second picture, Iíve added an Ďout of placeí gravestone to add some interest to the foreground. The Headstone is inscribed : In memory of William Shaw who died January 10th 1850 Aged 67 years.
Dickens based the character of Wackford Squeers on William Shaw, principal of the Bowes Academy, as mentioned above. It appears that Dickens took great liberty with Shaw and itís reported that he was not the sort of man to be cruel to his boys and the church must have thought highly of him to bury him so close to the church.
Iíll add a photo of Dotheboys, which is a bit of a boring building, now split into various privately owned houses and therefore difficult to get too near.
Bit of a long diatribe here, but I thought you might find it interesting.
thanks for looking and for your kind comments and clicks. helen x
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