We’re enjoying our second year of English Heritage membership. Membership for two adults, with L free, is £31 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers. So it is next to no money. L loves castles, English Heritage have a lot. It’s free days out for a year.
I’m trying to write about all the properties we visit using our membership. What I liked, didn’t like, share some pictures. We more than made our money back on the membership last year and this, so I am very happy it is good value for money.
Bolsover Castle – Derbyshire
We visited Bolsover Castle a couple of weekends ago as I had arranged a weekend away as a treat for husb’s birthday and tied it in with the JCB Factory Tour we had won earlier in the year at the East Anglian Game & Country Fair.
There is a fabulous cafe and shop, airy and spacious with plenty of food on offer. Husb enjoyed a sausage roll and I had a delicious prawn baguette as we arrived at lunch time and it would have been rude not to.
The bathrooms are also at the entrance and are clean and well equipped.
There is a carpark next to the Castle Entrance, though the signs state it for the use of people visiting the castle only we found it was full when we arrived and full of people visiting the Wetherspoons next to it. That being said, this particular carpark is chargeable, with the charge refunded when you buy your entrance ticket. We parked in the main car park for the town, less than a five minute walk away and that was free.
The gardens are massive and well worth wandering around.
There is a formal garden and fountain in the courtyard of the Little Castle, these are beautiful and whimsical, with lots of little cubby holes to explore.
Then there are the large lawns at the front of the property, brilliant for running around and blowing off steam, they happen to also include a very nice looking play area next to the cafe. The perfect spot for a picnic.
There is also a bowling green with amazing views. Beautiful terraces that are surrounded by ruins and both magical and striking in a very different way to the courtyard garden.
Oh and a second large lawn area with a massive tree at the centre that deserves some time spent near it, being autumn when we visited it was the perfect place for children to play in the leaves, but during the summer I should imagine it provides welcome shade for a picnic or just a little rest.
The Little Castle
The Castle is little but perfectly formed. With plenty to see and explore it is worth trying to follow the numbered route in the best order you can, just to make sure you see everything. We would have liked a bit more information to read about the different areas and about the history, maybe because we child free for once, but it was still lovely to look around and it was almost fully intact.
With lots of different rooms and plenty of interesting decor it was lovely to look around and from the little castle you can also access the wall walk, around the top of the courtyard garden.
Built purely as a place to entertain this cute little castle is so interesting.
Stables, ruins and other areas
As you first enter the castle having crossed the lawn you will find a small model of the castle, then, if you haven’t visited before you will likely feel a bit lost. We certainly did. There are none of the usual English Heritage information boards and we didn’t know where to go first.
Thankfully we saw the information points for the audio tour and tried to follow them numerically around the site as best we could. It’s quite a large area and we had come a long way, we didn’t want to miss anything.
The large stables and dressage area are open for you to jave a look around there is nothing to read and very little to see, climbing the steps to the top of the stable so you can look down on the dressage ring was worthwhile.
There is a ruined area by the terraces with a few things to read, it would have been kitchens and grand halls. It gave a great sense of the scale of the property and I do love a ruin. Plus the views from the terrace are impressive.
Very easily missed, but one of the most interesting areas we looked at was the pump house, tucked away in the walls of the castle I saw a little opening. We almost left without looking but being a stubborn creature I refused to go until I had at least investigated, one of the doorways lead to a room filled with wood but the second house the old water pump house and one of the few information boards we had seen. It was fascinating to see how they got water to the Castle and fed the gardens and the fountain and we nearly missed it.
Inside the stable area they have created a brilliant display about the history of the family, the surrounding area and a little bit about the property itself.
It is a must see, really well put together and worth doing early in your visit, to give you a feel of the property’s history before you see it.
There are some bits for kids to dress up in and interact with which is a nice touch and it’s nice and large and airy so you wouldn’t have to worry for a second about taking some time to read the displays whilst the kids have a wander.
The Cundy House
Technically a second property, free to access and set away from the Castle this is worth the little walk if only for the views looking back to the Castle.
The Cundy House is accessed by walking the public footpath between the Castle and Wetherspoons, crossing the road and heading up the access road next to a second pub. You will then find an information board explaining the significance of the Cundy House and how it helped supply the Castle with Water before you cross a little path up the hill to see it.
You can’t go inside or anything and it literally takes 5 minutes to see, but it’s worth it to get a full sense of the Castle.
Opening Times & Prices
The house is open 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday this time of year.
|WITHOUT GIFT AID||WITH GIFT AID|
|Child (5-17 yrs)||£6.80||£7.50|
For full details of times and prices please visit the English Heritage website, these are only a snapshot.
We very much enjoyed our trip to Bolsover Castle. It was a lovely place to explore and the addition of the little walk to the Cundy House kept us occupied for most of the afternoon.
It didn’t take us quite as long to look round as I was expecting, we were there maybe three hours, including our walk to the Cundy House and our time enjoying lunch in the cafe and we were a bit disappointed in the lack of information boards as we explored the property.
That being said if we were in the area again we would certainly visit as I know L would love it, with a great play area and a nice mix of ruins, complete castle and large open spaces would be perfect for him.
Plenty to feed the imagination.