Hidden away in the Peak District of Derbyshire, Bolsover Castle is a fairytale castle perfect for exploring, or combining a visit with nearby Chatsworth House, 30 minutes drive away.
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History of Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle has a very interesting history, but not all of it is written down.
The oldest visible parts of the castle date from the 13th century, though the foundations may be even older.
The castle has changed hands several times in its history, including during the War of the Roses, when it was held by the House of Lancaster.
Later, it was owned by the Dukes of Portland, who made a few changes to the castle. They replaced the wood shingle roof with slates, added a few extra windows and added the towers.
They also made the Bolsover Castle Gardens, which are still there today.
The castle passed into state ownership in the early 20th century, when the last Duke of Portland died without children.
Bolsover Castle Gardens
Apart from the castle itself, Bolsover Castle’s best-known feature is its Gardens, which are open to the public all year round.
They’re a mixture of formal and informal gardens and have a wide range of plants and flowers, including rhododendrons, azaleas and peonies. There’s also a nice view of Derbyshire.
They’re open all year round and are free to visit, but there’s an entrance fee for the castle. There’s also a cafe, gift shop and a few exhibitions about the castle and gardens, including one about the plants in the gardens.
Things to know before visiting Bolsover Castle
- Bolsover Castle is open year-round, but the gardens are only open in spring and summer, when there are flowers.
- The castle itself is suitable for wheelchair users. The gardens, however, aren’t as accessible.
- There are guided tours of the castle and gardens, but they’re often in a different language to English.
- Special exhibitions and events are held at the castle throughout the year.
- In the summer, you can have afternoon tea in the castle garden or evening meals at the cafe.
Tips for Visiting Bolsover Castle
- The castle and gardens are best in summer, when there are flowers.
- If you like dark history, look out for the “murder hole” in the Great Hall. This was a small hole in the roof that archers used to shoot enemies.
- The castle is in the Peak District and has very high grassy hills. If you plan to walk there, be prepared for a serious climb.
Bolsover Castle is a very interesting and pretty site, and it’s close enough to be visited by people from Sheffield.
It’s a great day out for the family, but it’s also interesting for adults who want to explore some medieval history.
There are a couple of cafes, so it’s a good place to go for a full day out.