A £1.3m overhaul that historians say ‘puts 17th Century personality back into Bolsover Castle’ has been unveiled by English Heritage.
The huge restoration project has transformed the fairytale castle’s wall walk, giving visitors unprecedented access to the views across Derbyshire from the hillside spot.
Nicole Stacey, senior properties historian at English Heritage – who has been working on the project since 2012 – said: “It is fantastic that visitors can, for the first time, walk in the footsteps of William Cavendish and discover deeper aspects of his life for the first time.
“It is very much a promenade – somewhere he and his friends would walk to see and be seen, and for people to come here and experience that is fascinating.
“During Cavendish’s time, this was a pleasure palace – a place for people to relax – so it hasn’t been difficult to apply that to visitors coming to enjoy the site today.”
The wall walk overlooks the fountain garden, renovated to look as it would have in the 1630s. Original borders have been recreated and plated with 5000 plants to reflect the imported plants that were the height of fashion at the time.
Lavish 17th century reproduction furnishings now decorate part of the formerly empty ‘little castle’, with tapestries hanging from the walls in the grand star chamber. Visitors can open cabinets in the style of the era, to reveal secrets of the castle and how its owners would dine and relax.
Speaking at the official launch of the refurbishment on Tuesday, Nicole, unveiled a new exhibition dedicated to William Cavendish. She said: “You really get a sense of the man William Cavendish was. He was a sophisticated and enlightened man and these changes reflect these deeper aspects of his personality and the culture of England at the time.”
Younger visitors can expend some energy on the new adventure playground, or try their hand dressing up and performing in a theatre production in the little castle.
After a record year in 2013/14 which saw 75,000 visitors to the castle, English Heritage predicts the transformation will cause numbers to soar over the next 12 months.
Steve Bax, English Heritage historic properties director, said: “With this new investment, plus continuing horse displays and a bumper season of historical events about to begin, we expect visitor figures to rise in the coming year – which in turn we hope will give a boost to the local economy.”
Bolsover Castle open daily until November 2. For more information visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/bolsovercastle
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For a video of the launch, visit www.derbyshiretimes.co.uk