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Historic England Research Records

Bolsover Castle

Hob Uid: 316209
Location :
Derbyshire
Bolsover
Old Bolsover
Grid Ref : SK4708070670
Summary : Bolsover Castle is the site of an eleventh century motte and bailey castle, a twelfth century tower keep castle and the standing remains of the seventeenth century country house that was built over it. The country house was built largely on the remains of 12th century masonry. The open areas of the inner and outer baileys, therefore, have been left largely undisturbed since the 11th century and are believed to contain the buried remains of buildings and structures associated with the all periods of the medieval castle's history. The motte and bailey castle took the form of a large oval outer bailey, with a smaller inner bailey. The later medieval castle respected the layout of the earlier, and the square tower keep appears to have been built on the site of the original. The foundations of the twelfth century keep survive below the present 'keep', known as the Little Castle, which was built between 1613 and 1618 and contains wall paintings throughout. During the 1630s the terrace range, now ruined, was built in the outer bailey or Great Court. It contained the Great Gallery and the main state rooms, the latter being built in the 1660s. The Riding School Range was begun before the Civil War and completed after the war ended. In 1945 the site was placed in the care of the Ministry of Works and opened to tourists. It is currently (2011) opened to the public by English Heritage.
More information : (SK 4708767) Bolsover Castle (NR). (1)

The first castle at Bolsover - a motte and bailey - is said to have been built by William Peverel. A stone castle was probably not begun until the early part of the C12th and has now entirely vanished. The present Keep or Little castle built in 1613 - c.1616 stands in all probability on the foundations of the earlier Keep. The Riding School, the Gallery range and the Reception Rooms were probably all completed by 1634.
The Castle was given to the nation by the Duke of Portland and is now maintained by the Ministry of Works. (2-3)

Published survey of earthworks (25" 1962) revised. (4)

Bolsover Castle, see pamphlet.
The outline of the early promontory castle at Bolsover is still fairly clear and takes the form of a huge oval bailey with a small inner bailey. These early defences may have been of stone, but nothing of this is now visible, although early stonework was observed in the course of repairs in 1946 and 1978 in the forecourt of the central area. Originally a castle of the Peverel's, it was forfeited to the Crown in 1155 and remained a royal possession until the reign of Edward I. By the end of the 14th century it was ruinous, and was sold to Lord talbot in 1553.There is documentary evidence for walling in stone and the construction of two interval(?) towers in the early 13th century. (5-7)

Bolsover Castle and its ancillary buildings is a Grade I group. (8)

SK 470706. Bolsover castle. Under guardianship. (9)

Excavation in 1977 revealed the medieval curtain wall of the
castle. (10)

Additional reference. (11)

SK 47107062 Bolsover Castle, eleventh century motte and bailey castle, twelfth century tower keep castle and seventeenth century country house. (12)

Bolsover Castle. Country House, 17th century, Grade I.

The keep was built in 1612-21 for Sir Charles Cavendish. It was constructed from coursed squared limestone and ashlar with tiled roofs and the architects were probably Robert and John Smythson. Additional ranges were built circa 1627-42 to the designs of John Smythson and circa 1635-42 possibly by Huntingdon. The site comprises a square keep with an enclosed forecourt, the Fountain garden, the angled Terrace Range to south west and the Riding School Range.

The keep is square in plan and rises to three storeys over a semi-basement. It has square projecting angle turrets, a larger square stair tower in the north east corner and a battlemented parapet. The south elevation is of five symmetrical bays and has a full-height, square, projecting porch bay. The windows have either mullions or both mullions and transoms. The forecourt to the south is enclosed by walls and four battlemented towers, two flanking the entrance.

The Fountain Garden to the south is enclosed by massive wall incorporating some medieval masonry of the inner bailey walls. Garden rooms are set in the thickness of the walls, some vaulted and with fireplaces. In the centre of the Garden the Venus Fountain adapted from a design by John Smythson. To the south west is the angled Terrace Range. At the north end are the Cavendish Appartments, of two storeys over a basement. They are of two plus four bays, and two storeys over a basement.

The main range to the right is of one storey over a basement and is symmetrical. It has ten bays with a central doorway, banded rustication and large cross windows. The elevation to the Inner or Great Court has a battlemented range at the south end, with tall cross windows and low rectangular windows above. The interior of this derelict range had the Great Gallery running along the full height of the south side, and behind it facing into the court, a bedchamber, withdrawing room, hall and great hall/dining room. Service rooms and private apartments were at at the north end.

The Riding School range has on both sides a row of gabled dormers The elevation to the court is of three, five and seven bays. The centre part, containing the riding school itself, projects forward on both sides. In the court there is a massive central entrance, heavily rusticated and with a broken segmental pediment enclosing a ball finial. Flanked by pairs of large cross windows with moulded architraves. There is a similar composition to the right hand part, with five symmetrical bays plus two additional bays and a second triumphal gateway. This part housed the forge. There is a three bay range at the east end, with three tiers of two-light mullioned windows.
(13)

SK 470 706. Bolsover Castle, scheduled. (14)

Additional references. (15-20)

Listed by Cathcart King. (21)

Additional reference. (22)

Excavations have revealed the bailey bank and a pre-motte surface which clearly dates the motte to the early 11th century. An aisled building was also discovered, which appears to be of early 13th century date. (23)

The wall paintings encapsulate every element of the late Renaissance fasination with allegory and myth. The iconography is in keeping with a building used to hosting court masques and pageants. Wall paintings in the ante-room depict The Four Elements and The Four Temperaments; each scene has been copied from a set of prints by Pieter Jode (1570-1634). In the adjacent Hall the paintings depict scenes from the labours of Hercules; The scenes may have been selected to symbolise Man overcoming his animal passions. On the first floor the scheme in the Elysium room shows an assembly of pagan gods. In contrast to the pagan theme the painted ceiling in the Heaven room illustrates Christ ascending into Heaven. The original artist is unknown. (24)

According to the guidebook, the Little Castle was built between 1613 and 1618 and the Terrace Range was completed in the 1630s. The Riding House Range was begun before the Civil War and completed after it ended. The Grand State rooms were added in the 1660s.

In 1945 the site was placed in the care of the Ministry of Works and opened to tourists. (25)

This report contains the findings of research into slavery connections with Bolsover Castle. It states that there is little ownership of plantations by direct owners of Bolsover Castle, despite there being evidence of plantation ownership in their wider families. It suggests there is more evidence of the employment of black servants by the owners, however this would require further research to determine if they were employed at Bolsover. (26)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 25" 1962
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 51, 1948
Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Beswick P. 1978. Derby's Origins (Sheffield City Museums)
Page(s) : 40-42
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : scheduled Amendment 11-MAR-1992
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : District of Bolsover, 23-Mar-1989
Page(s) : 32-33
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1261
Source Number : 14
Source : County list of Scheduled Ancient Monuments : December 1987
Source details : Derbyshire
Page(s) : 4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Derbyshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 92-101
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 16
Source : Register of parks and gardens of special historic interest in England
Source details : Derbyshire
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : Part 10
Source Number : 17
Source : The English Heritage visitors' handbook 1998-99
Source details :
Page(s) : 124
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : The Bolsover Castle building account, 1613
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : Early drawings of Bolsover Castle [17th century]
Source details :
Page(s) : 510-18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 27, 1984
Source Number : 20
Source : Bolsover Castle, Bolsover, Derbyshire, report on geophysical survey, 1993
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Derbyshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 62-65
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 21
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the islands. Volume I : Anglesey - Montgomery
Source details :
Page(s) : 108
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 22
Source : Ordnance Survey guide to castles in Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 132
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 23
Source : Derbyshire archaeological journal
Source details : Sheppard R
Page(s) : 111-45
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 123, 2003
Source Number : 24
Source : Our painted past : wall paintings of English Heritage
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 25
Source : Bolsover Castle
Source details :
Page(s) : 40
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 26
Source : Slavery Connections of Bolsover Castle (1600-c.1830)
Source details :
Page(s) : 54-55
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 FRH 24-NOV-65
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : DOE (IAM) Bolsover Castle 1972 plans photos (PA Faulkner)
Page(s) : 65
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : The North Derbyshire archaeological survey to AD 1500
Source details :
Page(s) : 139, 145
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 572-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : Bolsover UD, Derby. November 1961
Page(s) : 1
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : List of ancient monuments in England: Volume 1, Northern England; Volume 2, Southern England; Volume 3, East Anglia and the Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 26
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 10
Source : Medieval archaeology : journal of the Society for Medieval Archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 168
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 22, 1978

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C11 construction
Monument End Date : 1099
Monument Start Date : 1066
Monument Type : Motte And Bailey
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C12 construction
Monument End Date : 1200
Monument Start Date : 1101
Monument Type : Keep, Castle
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Constructed 1613-18
Monument End Date : 1618
Monument Start Date : 1613
Monument Type : Country House, Wall Painting
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Extended 1630s
Monument End Date : 1639
Monument Start Date : 1630
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Ruined Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Built 1640s-1650s
Monument End Date : 1659
Monument Start Date : 1640
Monument Type : Riding School
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Extended 1660s
Monument End Date : 1669
Monument Start Date : 1660
Monument Type : Country House
Evidence : Ruined Building

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 13270
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : DR 91
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 55
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 79228
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1108976
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1012496
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 47 SE 6
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 316240
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1117851
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD BOLSOVER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1960-01-01
End Date : 1960-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD BOLSOVER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1960-01-01
End Date : 1960-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SK 47 SE 6
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-11-24
End Date : 1965-11-24
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1977-01-01
End Date : 1977-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1990-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (TERRACE RANGE)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (SOUTH OF THE RIDING SCHOOL)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE GARDEN
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE FOUNTAIN GARDEN, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE FOUNTAIN GARDEN, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE RIDING SCHOOL, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, VISITOR CENTRE, CASTLE YARD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LITTLE CASTLE, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, VISITOR CENTRE, CASTLE YARD
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE VENUS FOUNTAIN, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (SITE ENTRANCE)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (RIDING SCHOOL RANGE)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (FOUNTAIN GARDEN)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (CASTLE YARD)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LITTLE CASTLE, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE LODGES
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE RIDING SCHOOL
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE FOUNTAIN GARDEN, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE (CURTAIN WALL)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOLSOVER CASTLE PLAY AREA
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, SOUTH DRIVE, BOLSOVER CASTLE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31