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Bolsover Castle from Stockley Trail.jpg
Bolsover Castle overlooking the town
Grid reference: SK475706
Location: 53°13’49"N, 1°17’15"W
Population: 11,291
Post town: Chesterfield
Postcode: S44
Dialling code: 01246, 01623
01773, 01909
Local Government
Council: Bolsover

Bolsover is a small town near Chesterfield in north-eastern Derbyshire.

The civil parish for the town is called Old Bolsover but includes both Bolsover and the New Bolsover model village, along with Carr Vale, Shuttlewood, Stanfree, Oxcroft and Whaley.

The origin of the name is uncertain. It may be derived from Bula's Ofer or Boll's Ofer, respectively the Old English for Bull's Bank or Boll's Bank (presuming Boll to be an otherwise unknown personal name). In the 1650s it was referred to as 'Bolsouer'.[1]


Bolsover is mentioned in Domesday Book, named as Belesovre, where it is described as the property of William Peverel (or "Peveril"). The description refers to the villans, the ploughs, 8 acres of meadow, and woodland pasture, which is given as two leagues by a league.[2]

William, Duke of Newcastle, was possibly an illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. Bolsover became the seat of the Peverel family, and in the twelfth century a keep was built.[3] The present castle was erected in 1613.

In 1657 William Cavendish produced the book 'La Methode et Invention nouvelle de Dresser les Chevaux' which he produced in exile in Antwerp during the Cromwellian Protectorate. This was translated in 1743 to 'A General System of Horsemanship in All Its Branches' this covered the dressage of horses, at his 'Bolsouer', Welbeck and Antwerp stables and there are etched prints existing showing the 'Monsieur le Marquis a Cheval' amongst many other views of the town. The etchings are attributed to Abraham van Diepenbeeck a pupil of Van Dyck.

Two railway lines once served Bolsover, but both were early casualties. The Midland Railway (later part of the LMS), arrived first with their north-south running "Doe Lea Valley Line" from Staveley to Pleasley, opened in September 1890 and thus enabling a through service between Chesterfield and Mansfield to be operated, but services were withdrawn as early as September 1930. The Bolsover railway station on this line was known as "Bolsover Castle" in its latter days.

The other line was the highly ambitious west-east running Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway, later part of the Great Central Railway and subsequently the LNER. Only the middle section from Chesterfield to Lincoln was ever built, opening in March 1897 (the Bolsover station was "Bolsover South"), but the section between Chesterfield and Shirebrook was brought to a premature demise in December 1951 by the deteriorating state of its biggest engineering feature, the 2,624-yard Bolsover Tunnel which ran beneath the limestone ridge on which stands the castle. The tunnel was mostly filled in with colliery waste in 1966-7, and today only the eastern portal is visible, at the end of an unusually deep sheer-sided cutting in the village of Scarcliffe.

Sights near Bolsover

The area around Bolsover is notable for three sites of historical importance: Bolsover Castle, Creswell Crags (home to Britain's only known Palaeolithic cave art)[4] and Creswell Model Village, an example of early twentieth century design from the Model village movement.


The major industry of the area used to be coal mining, but this has declined throughout all of Britain. Markham Colliery, just outside the town, closed in 1993. The Bolsover Colliery Company was one of the original companies in the original FT 30 list of companies.

In August 2006, Bolsover was announced to have the seventh-worst obesity rate in the UK.

The Beast of Bolsover

Overseas visitors to Bolsover Castle, so it is said, often ask if it is haunted by "the Beast of Bolsover" of which they have heard. The beast though is not that sort and is not mythical; it is the nickname given to the local Labour MP, Dennis Skinner, who has represented the constituency of Bolsover since 1970 and is well known for his pugnatious approach, softened perhaps by fast wit and his assiduous attendance record at the House of Commons.


The main sport competed in Bolsover is football:

  • Bolsover Town
  • Sunday Club
  • Bolsover Old Boys

Film and television

In 2007 Bolsover was chosen as the location to film the gritty film Summer (2008) starring Robert Carlyle and Rachael Blake. Many scenes from the movie were filmed on the Castle Estate, which is affectionately known by the Bolsover residents as the 'Wimps' (because it was built, in the 1950s, by George Wimpey). Other parts of the film were filmed in Whitwell, Bramley Vale and Shirebrook Community school, just a few miles from Bolsover.[5]

In an interview in late November, director Kenneth Glenaan and Robert Carlyle both agreed that Bolsover was the perfect setting for the film as it 'has been left in the past'. It also said that going from Matlock to Bolsover is like going to a different country and claimed the Castle Estate is 'the land time forgot'.

In 2011 Bolsover featured on BBC2's Antiques Road Trip.

Outside links


  1. "Bolsover". Key To English Place Names. English Place Name Society. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  2. Domesday Book: A Complete Transliteration. London: Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-14-143994-7 p.749
  3. Pevsner, Nikolaus (1953) (revised Elizabeth Williamson 1978). The Buildings of England: Derbyshire. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-071008-6, p. 92
  4. | Oxford University Press: Palaeolithic Cave Art at Creswell Crags in European Context - Paul Pettitt
  5. Summer at the Internet Movie Database

'Light At The End Of The Tunnel' by local author, Boggy Marsh, is a novel set in and around Bolsover in 1963. It tells of the adventures of a gang of kids, 'The Olly Wood Gang', who find that a local chemical company is making Agent Orange for the Americans. It is nostalgic and funny. ISBN Number 9 781493 542000. Available from Amazon, both in print and on Kindle.