A 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. When a group of barons led by King Henry II's sons – Henry the Young King, Geoffrey Duke of Brittany, and Prince Richard, later Richard the Lionheart – revolted against the king's rule, Henry spent £116 on building at the castles of Bolsover and Peveril in Derbyshire. The garrison was increased to a force led by 20 knights and was shared with the castles of Peveril and Nottingham during the revolt. John ascended the throne in 1199 after his brother Richard's death. 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, at which point £33 was spent on repairing the damage the Earl of Derby had caused when capturing the castle six years earlier. Over the next 20 years, four towers were added, the keep was repaired, various parts of the curtain wall were repaired, and a kitchen and barn were built, all at a cost of £181. From 1290 onwards, 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. The manor and castle were purchased by Sir George Talbot in 1553. 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 continued by his son William Cavendish, later 1st Duke of Newcastle upon Tyne. Despite its embattled appearance, the castle was designed for elegant living rather than defence. The tower, known today as the 'Little Castle', was completed around 1621.
During the Civil War Bolsover Castle was taken by the Parliamentarians who slighted it and it fell into a ruinous state. William Cavendish added a new hall and staterooms to the Terrace Range and, by the time of his death in 1676, the castle had been restored to good order. It passed through the female line into the Bentinck family, and ultimately became one of the seats of the Dukes of Portland. After 1883 the castle was uninhabited and given to the nation by the 7th Duke of Portland in 1945. The Little Castle is not accessible to wheelchair users but interpretation boards are located in the Riding House. The Terrace Range, Venus Garden and parts of Riding House and Stables have level access with good viewpoints. Visitors with limited mobility may be set down outside the visitor centre. Grounds are all accessible, with routes around the property on level, impacted gravel paths. There are some steps but alternative routes are available. There are 107 steps up to the top of the Little Castle and 100 down to the bottom. There are also some small steps within the castle. There are Tactile models in the site's Discovery Centre. There are accessible toilets. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Castle Street, Bolsover, Derbyshire, S44 6PR
Transport: Chesterfield (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : G & J Holmes service 49; TM Travel B2, B3; Stagecoach services 53, 53A, 82 and 83 stop close by.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 18:00
Tickets : Adults £11.30; Concessions £10.20; Children £6.80
Tel: 01246 822844