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Fancy a trip to Bowes Museum? Charming Barnard Castle caught up in Dominic Cummings lockdown saga

The 18th-century Silver Swan at the Bowes Museum Photo: Andrew Curtis / Bowes Museum

The controversy over the No 10 chief advisor Dominic Cummings—who sparked uproar by apparently breaking lockdown rules—has thrown a spotlight on the picturesque town of Barnard Castle, County Durham, in the north east of England. Cummings acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”, says Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after some pesky journalists revealed the special advisor drove his wife—who was suffering coronavirus symptoms—and son 264 miles to his parents’ farm in Durham when lockdown was at the strict “Stay at Home” stage.

The plot thickened after a witness allegedly spotted Cummings in the charming town named after its eponymous castle on Easter Day (12 April). “Like Dominic, I’ve always enjoyed popping up to Barnard Castle. The Bowes Museum there is an extraordinary museum full of wonderful art. I love the El Greco and the silver swan. And the frilly fashion collection! Maybe they should change the town’s name to Dominic Castle?” tweeted the art critic Waldemar Januszczak. Apollo editor Thomas Marks tweeted meanwhile that “a local expert from north London has recommended Barnard Castle late in the day and, hey, why should a pandemic get in the way of a jaunt to the Bowes Museum?”