Bolsover Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover, England, United Kingdom

Bolsover Castle is a 17th century manor house modelled on a small medieval castle, that was once the extravagant home of the Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Lily Johnson

23 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle near Chesterfield in Derbyshire is a 17th century English mansion, once the extravagant home of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Bolsover Castle history

The site where Bolsover Castle now stands once contained a small fortification, however this was dismantled in 1612 by the landowner Charles Cavendish, who began a fresh construction on the site.

The main development was intended to reflect a small medieval fortress, and became known as the ‘Little Castle’. Though Charles himself did not live to see the completion of this project, it was continued by his son William – said to be something of a playboy at the time – who completed the scheme along with additional buildings and an ornate riding house.

In 1634 Bolsover Castle hosted a visit by Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria, and William continued to be a supporter of the King during the English Civil War. This support did not bode well for Bolsover Castle however, as following its capture it was partially demolished by the Parliamentarians and its owner William forced to flee into exile. While on the continent however, William met his future wife – the eccentric Margaret Cavendish – who would later make a name for herself as a writer, philosopher, and early natural scientist.

When the pair returned to England following the Restoration in 1660, they were made Duke and Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and undertook mass repairs at Bolsover, largely restoring it to its past glory. After William’s death however, Bolsover Castle did not take pride of place among the Cavendish estates and his successors failed to maintain much of the site. By the 19th century most of Bolsover Castle had fallen into ruin, except the Little Castle which was converted for use as a vicarage.

Bolsover Castle today

Today, visitors to Bolsover Castle can enjoy a number of interesting sites and activities, including the intricate decorations of the Little Castle and the fascinating riding house, where riding master William Cavendish would have trained his horses in the 17th century.

The atmospheric shell of the Terrace Range may also be explored, where once the grand dining room, long gallery and basement kitchen bore witness to lavish parties. Meanwhile on the dramatic wall walk, visitors are able to stroll in the footsteps of Bolsover’s Cavalier courtiers and admire the picturesque Fountain Garden in its centre.

To further enrich your visit, Bolsover Castle also contains a number of audio visual displays and activities for children, with a variety of special events days taking place throughout the year.

Getting to Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle is located in Derbyshire on the A632, and can be reached from Junction 29A off the M1. Parking in the adjacent town of Bolsover is free, including at the Bolsover Castle car park. A number of bus services pass close to the castle’s entrance, while the nearest train station is Chesterfield, 6 miles away.

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