Grid Ref: SK 469 707
Dates: 3 Aug 2007

Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire is now in the care of English Heritage. It was built in the early 17th century and lies on the earthworks and ruins of the 12th-century medieval castle; the first structure of the present castle was built between 1612 and 1617 by Sir Charles Cavendish. The site is now in the care of the English Heritage charity, as both a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The original castle was built by the Peverel family in the 12th century and became Crown property in 1155 when William Peverel the Younger died. The Ferrers family who were Earls of Derby laid claim to the Peveril property.

King John ascended the throne in 1199 after the death of his brother, Richard (the Lion Heart). William de Ferrers maintained the claim of the Earls of Derby to the Peveril estates. He paid John 2000 marks for the lordship of the Peak, but the Crown retained possession of Bolsover and Peveril Castles. John finally gave them to Ferrers in 1216 to secure his support in the face of country-wide rebellion. However, the castellan Brian de Lisle refused to hand them over. Although Lisle and Ferrers were both John's supporters, John gave Ferrers permission to use force to take the castles. The situation was still chaotic when Henry III became king after his father's death in 1216. Bolsover fell to Ferrers' forces in 1217 after a siege.

The castle was returned to crown control in 1223.. Four towers were added and the keep repaired. From 1290 onward, the castle and its surrounding manor were granted to a series of local farmers. Under their custodianship, the castle gradually fell into a state of disrepair.

In 1553, King Edward VI, granted Bolsover Castle to George Talbot, 6th Earl of Shrewbury. It passed to his son Gilbert in 1590 and he sold it to his step-brother Sir Charles Cavendish. He worked with one of the first identifiable English architects, Robert Smythson. The design was intended for style rather than defence but was unfinished when Cavendish and Smythson died 1614 and 1617 respectively. Work was continued by Charles Cavendish's two sons, William and Jones, influenced by the Italian style of Inigo Jones (1573-1652) who had designed the Banqueting Hall in Whitehall. During the Civil War the castle was captured and deliberately made indefensible by Parliamentary forces, whereupon it fell into ruin again. William Cavendish, who had been made Marquess of Newcastle before the war became Duke of Newcastle after the Restoration of the Monarchy. He restored the building and added a new hall and staterooms to the Terrace Range.

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, had one son Henry Cavendish (1630-1691) with his first wife, Elizabeth Basset. He inherited the Dukedom and also the family seat of Wellbeck Abbey. One of their six children was Lady Margaret Cavendish (1661-1716) who (somewhat confusingly) married the John Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. They had one child, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles (1694–1755), who married the 2nd Earl of Oxford and Mortimer and was mother to Margaret Bentinck, Duchess of Portland. It was through this convoluted route that Bolsover Castle went into the hands of the Dukes of Portland. The Castle was inhabited until 1883 and given to the nation by the 7th Duke of Portand in 1945.

As a footnote from modern times, it was at Bolsover Castle that Lucy Worsley, Joint Chief Curator of Royal Palaces and well-known television historian, did her PhD with her theis entitled The Architectural Patronage of William Cavendish, first Duke of Newcastle, 1593–1676.


Henrietta Cavendish Holles
Margaret Bentick, Duchess of Portland
Henry Cavendish 2nd Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Model   range facing south
Model looking west. Entrance to courtyard in foreground   Approaching entrance, south facing range
Inside courtyard   door to great hall
View from courtyard back towards entrance   Door to Great Hall
view   Great Hall
The west range looking north   Great Hall with balcony and roof timbers
Keep seen from west   Keep
View of the Keep from the west   Closer view of the Keep
Entrance to Keep   Above entrance
Entrance to the Keep   Balcony above entrance held by Hercules
Panels   Panels
Panels   Fireplace with overmantle
Armorial   Fire place
Armorial with dogs   Murals above the panels
Ceiling   Fireplace
One of the ceilings   Ornate fireplace
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