Bolsover Castle - a ruined Jacobean Castle
Bolsover Castle was founded on medieval times, but the ruins which are visible today almost all date from the Jacobean period. It was built by Charles and William Cavendish, Earls of Newcastle.
|Bolsover seems at first glance an unlikely place for a castle, but the position atop a ridge of limestone looking over the vale towards Chesterfield is a natural strong point and William Peveril built a Norman Castle here long before Bolsover became known for deep coal mines and heavy industry.|
Peveril's castle was confiscated for the Crown by Henry II, but in 1553 Edward VI gave it to the Earl of Shewsbury, fourth husband of Bess of Hardwick, whose Hardwick Hall stands on the same escarpment just a few miles to the south. The castle later passed to Sir Charles Cavendish, Bess's second son.
The castle you can now see was built by Sir Charles and his son, William, who became Earl, and later Duke, of Newcastle. This began in 1613 with the re-building of the keep, to produce the so-called 'Little Castle', a gem of Jacobean design. This intimate and unusual building is the best preserved part of the castle and has been beautifully restored, with some lovely interiors.
Sir Charles died in 1617 and his son extended his work, initially building the Terrace Range - a group of grand buildings ranging southwards from the Little Castle. This had a fine view westwards towards Chesterfield and the Peak District, and included a Great Hall and a Long Gallery, which were used for a lavish reception of Charles I and his court in 1634. Sadly, the Terrace Range lost its roof in the mid-18th century, so this is now merely a ruin.
Charles' last addition was the Riding School Range - built to satisfy his passion for horses and dressage and manege. This magnificent and lovely building is essentially a very grand and large barn with a soft sand floor for the horses hoofs and a glorious oak roof, which is still intact. There is a viewing gallery from which William would watch the work of training the horses after he grew too old to take part.
William Cavendish was a fervent Royalist and one of their commanders in the Civil War, fighting (and losing) at Marston Moor. During the Protectorate he was exiled to Holland, only returning at the Restoration (he was tutor to the future Charles II). Upon his return he re-modelled the Terrace Range, furnishing it very lavishly. He died in 1676. His son Henry died in 1691 and ownership of the Castle passed through the female line, eventually to the Dukes of Portland.
After Henry's death Bolsover Castle was never again lived in by its owners, and material from it was plundered for use in other buildings. The castle was given to the nation by the Dukes of Portland in 1945 and is now administered by English Heritage.
Bolsover Castle Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
How to get there
6 miles E of Chesterfield on A632. Off M1 at junction 29A (signposted). Postcode: S44 6PR
By Bus: Stagecoach in Chesterfield 81-3 Chesterfield-Bolsover
By Train: Chesterfield station is 6 miles (10km) distant
When is it open?
From 22nd February - 24th March: open weekends 10.00am - 4.00pm.
From 28th March - 30th September: open daily 10.00am - 6.00pm.
From 1st October - 1st November: open daily 10.00am - 5.00pm
From 2nd November - 14th February: open weekends 10.00am - 4.00pm
Closed December 24 - 26th and 31st & January 1st
What does it cost?
Adult £9.80 , Child £5.90, Concessions £8.80. Family £25.50
Free to English Heritage members.
Prices and opening times are shown as a guideline only and may vary. See this link for more information on prices and opening
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