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 Derbyshire Bolsover castle

'By an unlikely miracle,' wrote the historian and champion of the Castle, Mark Girouard, 'the keep at Bolsover has survived into this century as an almost untouched expression in stone of the lost world of Elizabethan chivalry and romance.' The house you see today stands on the site of a medieval castle built by the Peveril family shortly after the Norman Conquest. Sir Charles Cavendish bought the old castle and began work on his 'Little Castle' project in 1612. His creation - despite its embattled appearance - was not designed for defence, but for elegant living. Sir Charles intended the house as a retreat from the world to an imaginary golden age of chivalry and pleasure. His son, William, who later became a Duke, inherited the Little Castle in 1616 and set about its completion, assisted by the designer John Smithson. William then added the stately rooms of the Terrace Range and, in 1634, invited the Stuart court to a masque specially written for the occasion. Finally, William constructed the enormous stables, in which he indulged his passion for training horses. The symbolic and erotic wall paintings in the Little Castle, some of which were restored in the 1970s, have been carefully conserved. The castle battlements and the Venus Garden have been restored and the fountain, with 23 new statues, plays again for the first time in centuries. The stables have been developed into a new Discovery Centre.Bolsover Castle regularly hosts living history events, open-air concerts and Shakespeare plays. It also has an interactive audio tour and audio-visual displays. In 2001 the castle was voted Heart of England Tourist Board Visitor Attraction of the Year.

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