Peak District Castles

The Peak District is not particularly renowned for its castles, but there are two which are certainly worth visiting if you are staying up here in this glorious part of the country.

Bolsover Castle

Bolsover Castle is just outside of Chesterfield, a few miles from Chatsworth. It’s well worth making the journey and spending the whole day there. It is certainly geared up for the children’s holidays.

A mix of early an early Norman stronghold, a country house, a Jacobean manor and a romantic folly, the castle was erected by the Peveril family, and we’ll tell you all about their castle further on. The buildings which can be seen today are largely the work of two men, Sir Charles and his son William, first Duke of Devonshire. In 1612 Sir Charles began what is now The Little Castle, a mock mediaeval keep. Cavendish built in a very romantic style, consistent with his own love of chivalry and honour, which has been preserved with the festivities, which occurred today, knights jousting to save their ladies in real battles in front of an awe inspired crowd.

When Charles died, his son William finished the original keep, and added the Terrace Range, an imposing suite of state rooms, living quarters and kitchen. It was hastily remodelled to include a long gallery when a Royal visit by Charles I visiting in 1634, and an especially written masque was performed in their honour.

Duke William loved horses and was an avid horseman and he built the stable range, which featured a large training area with a balcony. Visitors today climb to the balcony, which lets them have a close-up view of the magnificent timber roof and watch the jousting down below.

Peveril Castle

Peveril Castle

Peveril Castle sits high up on the hillside in an impregnable position overlooking the village of Castleton and no visit to this village should go without at least a photograph of it. It’s not hard to drift back in time and imagine what the castle looked like in its heyday, defending the area from its foe.

Not only giving the town its name, the castle is a very important monument in Castleton. It provides the opportunity for some outstanding views for miles around of the surrounding landscape but also has a very rich and interesting heritage. Built by William I following the Norman Conquest, it was one of a series of castles ordered to be erected up and down the country, Bolsover Castle being one of them, but Peveril Castle believed to be among one of the first.

It was built in 1080 and was named after William’s son, William Peverel, who was granted Royal Manors of the Peak after the Norman conquests and became the administrator of the Royal Forest of the Park in Castleton on behalf of the King, his father. It is known that the original structure was built from wood and had its own a keep. Bater these buildings were converted into stone which is the building that can still be seen today, the square keep with round headed windows.

It had a very interesting history and you can read lots more about it on our own page in the Castleton section. The castle has also had many owners but now it belongs to the crown of Lancaster and is in the care of English Heritage, becoming a protected Scheduled Ancient Monument, meaning the castle is considered to be a ‘nationally important archaeological site’ or historic building. It is given protection against any unauthorised changes and is also a Grade 1 listed building.

It’s a great place to take the children imagining what life was like the people who live there at the time. A climb to the castle at the top of the hill means enjoying breathtaking views over the Hope Valley and it’s possible to explore the remains of the Keep, including the Medieval Loo! Displays in the visitor centre tell the story of Peverel, and is well worth a visit to the gift shop where there are interactive displays in the visitor centre.