BOWES, a parish in the wapentake of Gilling West, and liberty of Richmondshire; 4 miles SW. of Barnard Castle. There is here a church dedicated to St. Giles (see Churches for photograph), a Methodist chapel and a free Grammar school. Bowes is situated on the edge of Stainmoor, near the north point of the county, on the banks of the river Greta, and consists principally of one street, nearly three quarters of a mile long from east to west. Population, 1,093.
Bowes is of great antiquity, being once a Roman station. At the N. W. angle of which stands the remains of a Castle, built out of the ruins of the Roman fortress, by Alan Niger, the first Earl of that name, who placed therein William his relation, with 500 archers to defend it against some insurgents in Cumberland and Westmorland, confederated with the Scots. It is situated on the brink of a hill declining swiftly to the southward, at whose foot runs the river Greta. The present ruins are fifty-three feet in height, forming a square of equal sides of fifty three feet each. This castle appears to have belonged to John de Dreux, Earl of Richmond, in the reign of Edward III. who granted it to Mary St. Paul, the Countess of Pembroke, in the 5th of the same reign; from her it passed to John Duke of Bedford, third son of Henry IV. who died possessed of it; it afterwards devolved on Henry VI. It is now as well as the toll for cattle passing through the manor of Bowes, the property of Henry Percy Pulleine, Esq. The town of Bowes is situated on the Roman military way, called by Antoninus Lavatrae. This station, occupying the field called the "Baile" and the church-yard, is an exact square consisting of four acres: the south vallum is very perfect. Coins of Hadrian Vespasian, Constantine Nero, Faistina, Severus, &c. as well as Roman altars, remains of baths and aqueducts have been found here:- An old stone was used some time ago, in the church, as a communion table, with an inscription in honour of Hadrian, -Camden, -Horsley -Grose.
About two miles from Bowes is a singular curiosity, called Godbridge, being a natural bridge of limestone rock, where, through a rude arch, sixteen feet in the span, time river Greta precipitates its waters; the way formed on the crown of this rock is about twenty feet wide, and is occasionally the carriage road over the river. After the Greta has passed this bridge, at a little distance it gains a subterraneous passage for near half a mile; and in a lineal direction, breaks out again through the cavities of the rocks.
The church is dedicated to St. Giles; the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of C. Harrison, Esq. and the Rev. Richard Wilson, is the incumbent. At the west-end of the church, lie the remains of Roger Wrightson and Martha Railton, both of Bowes. The mutual attachment of this humble pair, "who died for the love of each other," gave rise to the ballad of some celebrity, called "Bowes Tragedy; or, a Pattern of True Love;" and Mallet's beautiful and pathetic poem of Edwin and Emma is founded on this story.
There is here a Methodist chapel, also a Free Grammar School, endowed by the late William Hutchinson, Esq. of Delro, Hertfordshire, about the year 1693, with £90. per annum, out of which the master is laid £70. and the mistress £20. The endowment, according to Carlisle, is worth 339L 13s. per annum. In addition to the above endowment, the Rev. Charles Parkin, left a scholarship at Cambridge for its benefit. There are six scholarships at Pembroke-Hall, Cambridge, for superannuated scholars from Merchant Taylor's school; and for one Scholar, educated at the free-school at Bowes, each 40L. per annum, and may be held seven years.
Bowes-Hall, the ancient seat of the family of Brunskell, is now the property of Thos. Harrison, Esq. as patron of the church.
[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]