This year we decided to end our National Trust membership and take up English Heritage membership in order to explore some new places. Our first visit was to Bolsover Castle whilst we were staying in Nottinghamshire.
Bolsover Castle is a Stuart mansion located in Derbyshire. It was built overlooking the Vale of Scarsdale and there are some amazing views from the ruins of the main castle. There is also a wonderful wall walk which takes you around the perimeter of the Fountain Garden.
The Fountain Garden provided us with a good giggle. At the centre is the fountain designed around the statue of Venus – goddess of love and pleasure – emerging from her bath. Venus is surrounded by little figurines of naked boys. The girls were overheard having a discussion about whether or not they “liked willies”, which is something I will have to remind them of when they are teenagers. However, when the fountain started working, and the male figurines started “weeing”, Emily was well and truly disgusted by the whole thing!
The real highlight of Bolsover has to be the “Little Castle”. It was created as an extravagant retreat by Sir William Cavendish and was designed to look like a Norman castle, with medieval-style turrets and towers. It really does look exactly like you would picture a castle to be like. It is also perfect if you visit with children as there are no ropes or barriers here, and all of the reproduction furniture here can be touched, sat on and enjoyed.
At the top of the Little Castle, there is also a selection of Stuart-style dressing up clothes for children to enjoy.
Bolsover Castle has an impressive indoor Riding School. William Cavendish was riding master to the future King Charles II, and he imported horses from as far afield as Turkey and North Africa to be trained here. William Cavendish is generally acknowledged as the ‘father’ of modern dressage, and the “Cavalier Horsemanship” display was really interesting. The riders are dressed in clothes of the period, and explained how the horses were trained with moves that we know today as dressage.
The girl were kept entertained throughout the visit to Bolsover. In addition to exploring the ruined mansion, and the Little Castle. The Riding School also has an interactive exhibition, and the girls could also imagine what it would be like to be in the Riding Studios back in the time of William Cavendish. They also enjoyed playing on the outdoor play area, which has been built to resemble a mini Bolsover Castle.
There seems to be lots of events on throughout the year at Bolsover Castle. On the Bank Holiday weekend when we were there, we watched demonstrations on use of weapon and archery, and Emily went to “knight school”. Bolsover Castle is a brilliant day out if you are in the area, and it has got us excited about our new English Heritage membership. I will be sharing more of our English Heritage days out in the future…