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Bolsover Castle

The forecast for a rainy Bank Holiday should have been my cue to spend a day or two painting and modelling but you can get a bit stale cooped up inside. Instead, I decided that we would have a day out visiting a nearby castle over at Bolsover. I have driven past it many a time but had never actually visited the place. It is situated ‘over the border’ in Derbyshire and is about an hours run from our home in Bingham. If the weather wasn’t too encouraging, the fact that there was an English Civil War re enactment taking place over the bank holiday was incentive enough to overcome any inertia and so off we went.

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle is now run by the English Heritage and perhaps this is reason I haven’t visited before. I have usually had National Trust membership and so have avoided paying entry to ‘the other sides’ locations. The Castle itself was originally built in the 12th Century but fell into disuse and disrepair until it was rebuilt by William Cavendish between 1612 and 1617. The  Cavendish family extended the house over the next few decades and in 1660 added a riding range to the building. William Cavendish was an enthusiastic horseman and a very early practitioner and expert in Manége, or as we now know it, Dressage. He was a supporter of the Royalist cause during the Civil war and as the Marquis of Newcastle, commanded the Newcastle White Coats.

The white Coats of Newcastles Regiment take up position.

The White Coats of Newcastles Regiment take up position.

Following the defeat of the Royalists at Marston Moor, the North was lost as the Parliamentarians capitalised on their victory. Bolsover Castle was taken without resistance. Cavendish, despondent at the defeat, went into exile on the Continent. Despite the lack of a real siege taking place at Bolsover, the Castle formed a superb back drop to the re-enactment that was to take place on the day of our visit. I always thoroughly enjoy such events. The enthusiasm of the participants makes up for any lack of acting ability! Of course, the costumes and expertise of the re-enactors are a very valuable source for wargamers. So, as you can imagine, I spent much of the day watching the various events and wandering around the reenactors encampments! I will really have to go back to the Castle to have another good look around. The time that I did spend exploring the various buildings was very well spent and there is plenty to see.

View from the Castle terrace

View from the Castle terrace

The 'Little Castle, Bolsover

The ‘Little Castle, Bolsover

However, the highlights for me were the extra events taking place. The appearance of a very well drilled ‘squadron’ of Hasslerigges Lobsters, certainly being very impressive.

Hasselrigges Lobsters!

Hasselrigges Lobsters!

Cornet stands for inspection

Cornet stands for inspection

As well as the battle re-enactments there was an informative lecture on the Cavendish Family by Historian John Taylor and a very enjoyable ‘music of the Stuarts’ performed by Hautbois.

Hautbois

Hautbois

Back to the main event, the siege itself. Although fictional , it was well done, with a humerous but informative commentary. The real joy for me is to see how the various parts of the army functioned and of course to fire up my imagination! The next sequence of pictures tells the story better than I can.

The New Model Army arrives to lay siege!

The New Model Army arrives to lay siege!

The Defenders sally forth!

The Defenders sally forth!

Get Stuck In!

Get Stuck In!

Muskateers open fire.

Muskateers open fire.

The cavalry attack!

The cavalry attack!

All in all, a most enjoyable day. Although the weather wasn’t at it’s best, there was little of the rain that was forecast. That may have accounted for the lack of crowds, which of course meant that it was very easy to see everything that I wanted to. I would very much recommend Bolsover Castle as a place to visit, if you can choose a day when there is an event running, even better! The link to the official web page is here:

www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/bolsover-castle/events

 

 

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