This is one of a series of detailed reviews about Bolsover Castle.
Bolsover Castle is an impressive structure towering above the valley, when seen from the M1. “The Little Castle”:http://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/156330 is a mock Norman keep built on the site of the Medieval tower and enclosed by the Medieval wall around what was the inner court. This is now the Fountain Garden.
Outside this is the Great Court, the original inner bailey, which has the Terrace Range with the State Apartments and kitchens on the west side overlooking the Doe Lea Valley. To the south is the Riding House. The Visitor Centre and cafe are in the outer bailey near where the gatehouse would have been. This is a grassed area with picnic tables and a children’s adventure play area.
From the Visitor Centre, the first views are of the Riding House across the grass.
An archway at the side of this leads into the Great Court, a large grassy are with a splendid copper beach tree in the centre. On the left is the RIDING HOUSE. This is a long stone building with dormer windows in the roof and massive doorways leading into the Riding House and the stables which is now the exhibition area.
To the left of the Riding House is a lower building which had the smithy and shoeing house on the ground floor (not open). A shallow staircase leads up to the first floor with two rooms, both with small fireplaces. The inner room has a decorative plaster frieze round the top of the walls.
At the far end is a large viewing window looking down to the Riding House. This has a central post and newly constructed gallery with a raised bank of seats used for special displays of cavalier horsemanship.
There is no access to the Riding House except on these special event days.
A steeper flight of stairs leads up to two small rooms under the eaves, which were used as lodging rooms. Again these have small fireplaces. The glassed doorway in the far room would have led to a series of other rooms over the Riding House to the stables beyond. These would have been used by stable staff or possibly less important guests. There are massive wooden beams across the roof, which is made up of narrow strips of wood with plaster infill. The glass doorway at the far end gives a marvellous view of the massive oak roof above the Riding House with its hanging bosses. Originally the roof was not intended to be seen and there would have been a flat plaster ceiling over the Riding House.
Beyond the Riding House were the stables which held about 15 horses. At the far end was a lodging room used by stable staff. In the late 1680s, the horses were moved out of the stables into the former gallery in the Terrace Range and the space was converted into living quarters and fireplaces added. This is now an exhibition area with display panels about the Cavendish’s and Bolsover. It contains the original oak doorway which lead from the Little Tower onto the wall walk.
The TERRACE RANGE is built above the cliff with splendid views across the Doe Lea Valley. This was designed for show and lavish entertainment and was where William Cavendish entertained Charles I and Henrietta Maria in 1634. The Northern range was completed first with the service quarters in the basement and a hall above. During the Commonwealth, the lead was removed from the roof of the Northern Range and the buildings plundered. They were restored when William returned on the Restoration of the monarchy and were extended to form the State Apartments with a splendid Dining Room, Withdrawing Room, State Bedroom and the Long Gallery. The architecture of the Northern Range and State Apartments is very different.
Above the main entrance is the coat of arms of the Dukes of Newcastle, which William became in 1665. After William’s death, Bolsover Castle was hardly used by his son and the Terrace Range fell into disrepair and is now a roofless ruin.
The main entrance leads into the Dining Room. Beyond it to the north would have been the Hall, over the service quarters and kitchens. To the south was the Withdrawing Room and the State Bedroom. The massive doorways between the rooms gave a clear view along the length of the building.
The large rectangular windows overlooked the Great Court with views of the Riding House and the wall around the Little Castle.
Another splendid doorway leads from the Dining Room into the Long Gallery which runs the length of the State Apartments. There are massive windows overlooking the Doe Lea valley. This was originally the deer park of the medieval castle. Now there are views of New Bolsover, the C19th model housing built for the coal mines.
A massive doorway leads out to a flight of steps dropping down to the terrace below which runs along the length of the building. The outer wall of the gallery is very ornate with short carved stone pillars between the windows and carved stone down pipes.
The terrace was originally the main entrance to the State Apartments and the courtyard to the Little Castle. Later when the entrance was removed to the great court, it became a viewing platform across the valley.
At the northern end of the terrace is a doorway half way up the wall. This originally had a stair up to it and was the 1630s entrance
At the northern end of the Terrace Range are the service quarters with the kitchens, larders, ovens, brewhouse and cellars. State of the art when they were built, these are now in a ruinous state and little is left of their structure. The kitchens had a roasting hearth and charcoal stoves for more delicate dishes, a boiling room and pastry ovens. There were different larders for raw meat, fish, dairy produce and dry goods. The clerk had his own room off the kitchen with a small fireplace. Next to it was a vaulted room where silver and silver gilt plate could be cleaned and stored after use.
There is more information and pictures “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/castles/england/bolsover/index.html