Bolsover castle was built by the Peverel family in the 12th
century. It became Crown property in 1155 when the third William Peverel fled
into exile. A stone keep was built around 1173, surrounded by a curtain wall.
During the reign of King John the wall was breached in 1216 . It was then
deteriorated into a ruin. Surviving fragments of the curtain wall were later
incorporated in a wall walk that can be seen in the castle garden.
In 1553 the manor and castle were purchased by Sir George Talbot. They were sold
by Gilbert, 7th Earl of Shrewsbury to Sir Charles Cavendish, son of Bess of
Hardwick in 1608. Sir Charles set about re-building the castle, a process which
was continued by his son William Cavendish, later 1st Duke of Newcastle upon
Tyne. Bolsover Castle was designed for elegant living rather than for defence.
The tower (known today as the 'Little Castle') was completed about 1621.
During the Civil War Bolsover Castle was captured by the Parliamentarians who
ransacked it and it fell into a ruinous state. William Cavendish added a new
hall and staterooms to the Terrace Range and, at the time of his death in 1676,
the castle had been restored to good order.
Bolsover Castle passed through the female line into the Bentinck family, and
then became one of the seats of the Dukes of Portland. From 1883 the castle was
uninhabited and eventually given to the nation by the 7th Duke of Portland in
The castle is now managed English Heritage (2009).
photos below taken during the Medieval Mayday Weekend 2009