Bolsover Castle is located in Blosever, a town named after it, in Derbyshire, England. It is a famous tourist destination within that area. Allegedly known online as the spookiest and strange castle, it is among the great castles in British history in many ways.
The quaint yet scenic Bolsover Castle, which we see standing tall now, was built in the 17th century, but its history dates back to the 12th century, starting right after the Norman Conquest of England.
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Bolsover Castle is surrounded by the picturesque countryside of Derbyshire and its gardens. With that, the castle has much to witness, including some incredible and rare artwork.
It offers a blend of ruin and 17th-century architecture, which you might not find anywhere else. If you enjoy art and history or want to get away with your friends and family to have a wholesome and uplifting day out, Bolsover Castle is the perfect destination!
Castle Street, Bolsover, Derbyshire, S44 6PR, United Kingdom.
Bolsover Castle History:
Bolsover Castle first stood on the site in the 12th century, built by the resourceful Peverel family following the Norman Conquest of England. This castle was part of the fortune granted to William Peveril by William the Conqueror for his services.
Soon after it was built, it became Crown property when William Peveril II died without an heir.
By the start of the 13th century, the Bolsover castle was rebuilt with stone. But as soon as decade-long construction was completed, it was attacked by William de Ferrars, Earl of Derby, during the First Barons War.
William has granted lordship a vast area in Peveril, but he wanted lordship of Bolsover and Peveril castle, which King of England John disapproved of. He paid John 2000 marks for the lordship of the Peak, but the Crown kept possession of the castle.
John finally gave them to Ferrers in 1216 to secure his support in the face of a country-wide rebellion on the Magna Carta. In 1217 after a year-long siege, Bolsover castle finally fell to Ferrers’ Forces.
In the later middle ages, Bolsover castle fell into despair and lost its importance. The most significant era of castle history started when it went under the ownership of the Cavendish family in the 16th century.
16th century and rebuilding of the castle
Professional soldier Charles Cavendish acquired the Bolsover castle and decided to make it its primary residence. He wanted this castle to be one of the finest buildings in England where he could entertain kings and lords.
But unfortunately, before his dreams came true, he passed away. But before his death, he worked for years with the famous builder and designer Robert Smythson and designed the framework of the new castle.
After Charles, construction was continued by his sons, William and John. Unlike their father, they were more inspired by Roman and Italian architecture than English. They built a magnificent palace fit for royalty. The tower ‘Little Castle’ was completed around 1621.
Bolsover Castle was under construction when the Civil war erupted. William was a key Royalist commander of the Crown in the North. There is no evidence of any structure between 1642 to 1651, during which the Parliamentarians took the castle.
Parliamentarian forces mismanaged this state-of-the-art architecture. Cavendish Duke fled the country, and by the end of the civil war, Bolsover castle was earmarked for destruction to prevent further military use.
After Civil war
Bolsover Castle was put up for sale for the price of its material, but the exiled duke’s brother paid a substantial fine and re-purchased the estate on behalf of William’s children.
William Cavendish returned in 1660. That was the era of King Charles II. Reconstruction began, and repairs commenced on the castle to once again make it the residence of the Cavendish family. It remained a stately home until 1883, when it was finally abandoned. At that time, it was owned by Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland.
In 1945 it was given back to the people of England by the 7th Duke of Portland.
Since then, Bolsover castle has been under the supervision of English Heritage.it is a grade I listed building, an archeological site, and a scheduled monument.
During construction and reconstruction, the common purpose of building castles was to defend the land and gain strategic advantages. Bolsover Castle was built to entertain the Kings and Lords for those reasons.
Famous builders and architects were hired throughout history to enhance the castle’s elegance and make it a magnificent palace befitting the status of Royals. When its construction started in the 1600s, builders wholeheartedly embraced the new and daring designs making it instantly famous among people.
All the architectural aspects of Bolsover castle are intimidating and extravagant. This is one of the few ancient architectures that accounts for survival for every stage of its construction.
As soon as one enters the castle, the Outer bailey beside the grassland is the first structure to greet. Besides that, there are remains of a stable built for the horses of William Cavendish. The entrance at the front leads to the lodging.
Lodging consists of a bunch of rooms built for the people to stay during dressage events. At the end of these rooms, a vast viewing gallery is created for guests to view the dressage events.
Moving away from the stable and outer bailey area, Terrace Range is the prominent structure. Many blocks of rooms are in this area, but they are not in perfect health. Besides that, there is a giant dining room with multiple stone-built fireplaces.
This was one of the most critical parts of the castle, where Cavendish hosted essential personalities worldwide. A Withdrawing Chamber is beside the dining room for guests to rest after a feast.
The next room after that is the Lodging Room, then the Long Gallery, and finally, the Kitchens. The balcony of the long gallery was built so guests can take a break from entertainment and admire the picturesque views of Derbyshire. All these areas are in a ruinous state.
The Little Castle (Bolsover’s Keep)
Perhaps the most famous part of Bolsover Castle is its keep, celebrated as “The Little Keep.” This area is in excellent health compared to other sites.
The first room inside this keep is an Ante Room decorated with rare artwork. The next area was the Hall which was the dining space for households.
Facilities for Visitors
Bolsover Castle is pretty latest and most modern compared to other castles managed by English Heritage. Ruins of the 11th-century castle provided the settings of the present castle built in the 17th century.
Picturesque modern structures from the 17th century dominate the castle compared to the leftover ruins. Besides that, it is built on a very unusual site for a castle, and some of the world’s rarest artwork is displayed inside it. All these features of Bolsover Castle have attracted tourists for centuries!
Everything is there to optimize your experience visiting Bolsover Castle, from supportive staff to audio guides to on-site facilities. Here is the highlight of critical facilities provided in Bolsover Castle:
- Free male/female/disabled toilets
- Disabled access all over the site. Facilities for hearing/vision impaired. Parking spot for disabled. Wheelchair availability
- Refreshments on site
- On-site catering in case you booked an event here
- Baby changing facilities
- Group tours, especially educational tours, are highly encouraged and welcomed. Additional facilities for educational tours. The educational/study area is free and open to everyone.
- Guided tours. (must be pre-booked)
- This perfect royal site can be booked for private events like conferences, weddings, birthdays, and meetings. Bolsover castle staff are experts in professionally handling all sorts of events. To book an event, visit the official website of Castle https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/bolsover-castle/
- Dog friendly
- Gift shop on site.
Opening and Closing Timings
Castle is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. English Heritage has full authority to change visiting time or close the castle for visits, so before you plan your holiday, check their website first.
The last available time slot to visit is 45 minutes before closing time. After 4:15 pm, no visitors can enter the castle.
Pre-booking day, as well as the time slot of the visit, is mandatory. You can book tickets and check the latest prices of tickets at https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/bolsover-castle/prices-and-opening-times/
Members of English Heritage do not need to buy tickets but still need to book their visit.
Tickets prices (these are without donation. Prices with contributions are listed on the web link mentioned above) are:
- Adults: £12.60
- Child (5-17 years): £7.60
- Students with a student card and people over 65: £11.30
- Family (2 adults, up to 3 children): £32.80
- Family (1 adult, up to 3 children): £20.20
On-site car parking is available at Bolsover castle, but it fits a limited number of vehicles.
If you don’t mind, around 10 minutes of walking, you can park a few streets away for free. There are several safe and free parking available in town.
Tourist Attractions nearby Bolsover Castle:
The nearest restaurants to Bolsover castle are just 0 miles away. The Beehive Cafe, The Coffee Cup, The Pillar of Rock, and Golden Grill are some of those. Almost all cuisines, pubs, and bars are found within a mile or two.
Other places to visit:
- Bolsover Antique Center
- Old Bolsover Yard
- St Mary & St Laurence Church
- Carr Vale & Peter Fidler Nature Reserve
- Bolsover Cundy House
- Derbyshire Pony Trekking
Photography at Bolsover Castle
Bolsover castle offers a lot to photographers. No matter your niche of interest, you can find something here to capture. Historical importance, marvelous architecture, rare and ancient artwork, and refreshing views of the surroundings; shooting at Bolsover castle is a complete package.
There is no restriction for regular shoots, i.e., bridal showers, but if you want to shoot a marketing campaign here, you must get permission from authorities first.
Flying drones on the premises is not allowed. If you booked an event here and want aerial shooting, contact the management.
Bolsover Castle is a great place to plan picnics or visit with your near-dear ones. It is highly recommended.
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