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Bolsover Castle

Right, first off, lets have a bit of History about this place.

"Bolsover Castle was originally constructed on a hilltop which was occupied by a medieval fortress built by the Perevel family in the early 12th century. Bolsover Castle became Crown property in 1155 when William Perevel III fled into exile. Shortly afterward, the Ferrers family – who were Earls of Derby – laid claim to the Perevel property.

When a group of barons led by King Henry II’s sons – which included Prince Richard (later Richard the Lionheart) and John Lackland (Henry’s youngest son) – revolted against the king’s rule, Henry spent £116 on Bolsover Castle to increase the garrison to accommodate as many as 20 knights.
The revolt failed but Richard and his brothers begged their father’s forgiveness and in 1189 Henry agreed to name Richard his heir. Two days later Henry II died in Chinon, and Richard succeeded him as King of England.

Bolsover Castle remained in possession of the crown even after John ascended to the throne in 1199 following brother Richard’s death. Never-the-less William de Ferrers continued to maintain the claim of the Earls of Derby over Bolsover Castle and even paid William 2000 marks for the lordship of the Peak.
In 1216 John finally gave the property to the Ferrers to secure their support against the country-wide rebellion. However the castellan, Brian de Lislem, refused to hand it over so John gave the Ferrers permission to take the property by force.

In 1217 after a nearly year long siege, Bolsover Castle was finally taken by the Ferrers after which it was neglected and eventually fell into ruin for more than 3 centuries.
Then in 1553 the manor and castle were purchased by Sir George Talbot, keeper to the exiled Mary Queen of Scots. Talbot later became the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and married ‘Bess of Hardwick’ who owned the vast Chatsworth estates.

In 1608 Talbot leased Bolsover Castle to Sir Charles Cavendish and later sold it to him. Cavendish employed architect Robert Smythson to help rebuild the Castle. Upon Cavendish’s death in 1617, his son William – considered a playboy, courtier, and poet – inherited the property and set about finishing his father’s work. The incredible result included tiers of luxurious staterooms filled with exquisitely carved fireplaces and richly-colored murals which can still be seen today including the magnificent ‘Caesar paintings’ commissioned by Cavendish that depict the Roman emperors and empresses.

The tower portion of Bolsover Castle known as the ‘Little Castle’, was completed c1621 while Terrace Range and the Riding School were added later.

When the Riding School was completed, it included a forge, a tack and harness room, a large arena, and an upper viewing gallery. One of the most notable features of the Riding School is its magnificent timber roof.  

Terrace Range, overlooking the Vale of Scarsdale, originally consisted of apartments and kitchens, but was extended to include a long gallery and an external staircase.
Later with the onset of the Civil War, Sir William Cavendish took command of the Royalist troops where, upon his defeat, he was forced to flee into exile. As a result, Bolsover Castle was surrendered to Parliamentarian troops in August of the same year.

After the reformation of the Monarchy in 1660, Sir William Cavendish was able to return to England and his now ruinous Bolsover Castle. And in spite of enormous financial problems, he managed the restoration and eventually added a new hall and staterooms to the Terrace Range.
By the time of his death in 1676, Bolsover Castle had been restored to good condition. Unfortunately, his heirs chose to vacate the Castle and make their home at Welbeck Abbey. And as a Final insult, in 1752 they stripped the lead from the roof of the Terrace Range to repair the roof at Welbeck Abbey.
The castle remained vacant until 1834 when it was let to the Curate of Bolsover and passed through the female heirs into the Bentinck family where it ultimately became one of the seats of the Dukes of Portland.
From 1883 on, Bolsover Castle remained uninhabited and was eventually given to England by the 7th Duke of Portland in 1945 where it is now in the care of the English Heritage."

As you can see from the above, Bolsover Castle has a long and varied history, the inner Little Castle being built for extravagant pleasure! Read in to that what you will. We visited the place on a lovely sunny springlike afternoon and saw it at it's best. Sal had one of those taped tour guides, keeping both me and her mum well informed of all interesting facts and features of the castle. Unfortunately her camera came out in earnest resulting in her just wandering off into the abyss, never to be seen again and leaving us without out guide. I did catch a few glimpses of a figure wandering around the Little Castle but I put that down to being one of the many ghosts which haunt the place.....or was it Sal?

On the subject of ghosts, some people have detected a distinct aroma of horses in the former riding school, others have experienced pinches or slaps from unseen hands. In the castle's kitchen, the ghostly figure of a woman has often been seen placing a small, mysterious bundle into the fireplace.and according to local legend, the devil was in Bolsover one day and was so impressed by the skills of the local blacksmith that he demanded to have metal shoes fitted to his hooves. However, the blacksmith drove a nail deep into the soft part of the devil’s hoof. With a scream of agony, the devil took off over the Derbyshire countryside, writhing and kicking in pain never to be seen again. I think he took refuge in Lancashire. Well I believe it!

I used to think I'd lost Sal and worried about where she was on a regular basis but I'm used to it now. She just takes off and that's the last you see of her for an hour before she mysteriously reappears again. Apparently it's a thing which goes right back to her childhood! It's happened at Fountains Abbey, Eyam and most notably Southwell Minster where she wandered off in search of the Branley Apple Window (the bramley apple was first propagated more than 200 years ago in Southwell) and The Airman's Memorial Chapel.

English Heritage have done a good job with the Castle's upkeep, not many places are out of bounds and there is a smashing little cafe by the entrance. The view from the ruined Terrace gives a fantastic view on a clear day due to its high elevation. You can see northwards to Sheffield and westwards towards the Peak District. The only thing to mar the view is the M1 which is only a couple of miles away. We spent a couple of hours at the castle and could have spent a lot longer if it hadn't been for the fact that part of out afternoon out was to include a visit to the nearby Elm Tree Inn at Elmton which is the epitome of an English county pub. Nice and cosy, selling good home cooked food and local real ales to boot. What more could you ask for? 

An ale for me, a cider for Sal and a glass of red for her mum were accompanied by some Wasabi nuts (not to everyone's taste) before we returned home to an awaiting nutty dog who was slightly miffed by the fact that we had to leave her at home; she does usually come with us. 

Sorry Holly.

The Little Castle

Exposed roofing, The Riding School Range

Riding School Range door

Main Courtyard

The Little Castle

The Terrace Range entrance

The Terrace Range exterior

Underneath the Terrace Range

The Terrace Range entrances

The Terrace Range walls

Inner Courtyard walls

The Venus Fountain

Inner Castle Walls

Inside The Little Castle

Inside The Little Castle

Inside The Little Castle

Inside The Little Castle

Inside The Little Castle

Inside The Little Castle

The Venus Fountain

The Venus Fountain and Little Castle

The Little Castle

The Venus Fountain

The Terrace Range

The Main Courtyard

Inside The Little Castle

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