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Guidebook: Bolsover Castle


Product Code: 17731

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Perched on a ridge high above the vale, Bolsover Castle is an extraordinary 17th century aristocratic retreat, containing exceptional wall-paintings and interiors. The riding house is the earliest in England to survive complete.

Bolsover Castle was founded in the late 11th century and seized by the Crown in 1155, but neglected from the middle of the 14th century. Its ruins provided the setting for the Little Castle, an exquisite miniature house begun in 1612 by Charles Cavendish as a retreat from his principal seat at nearby Welbeck.

His son William inherited in 1617 and over the next half-century added the Terrace and Riding House Ranges, making Bolsover a place of aristocratic reception, entertainment and pleasure. William Cavendish hosted King Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria here in 1634 when the entertainment ‘Love’s Welcome’, written specially for the occasion by Ben Johnson, was performed in the garden.

William fought for the Royalists during the Civil War but he was defeated at the Battle of Marston Moor in 1644 and went into exile. On his return in 1660 he repaired Bolsover, built the Riding House Range and rebuilt the state apartment.

Cavendish’s son, Henry, dismantled the state apartment around the late 1680s and by the 1770s the Terrace Range was in ruins. The estate descended to the Duke of Portland who retained the Little Castle as a retreat until the early 19th century, when it was let to John Hamilton Gray, vicar of Bolsover.

After Bolsover Colliery opened in 1889, the castle suffered from the effects of mining subsidence and pollution. In 1946 it was given to the Ministry of Works who stabilized and repaired the fabric. Since 1984 it has been in the care of English Heritage. The wall-walk and gardens have recently been restored, allowing visitors to enjoy the views for the first time since the 18th century.

Key Features:

  • 48 pages
  • Paperback
  • Published in 2014

Size: Approx. 210 mm (w) x 285 mm (h)
Author: Paul Drury
ISBN: 9781848021112

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Guidebook: Bolsover Castle