Bernard Burke.

A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) online

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highest tower.

In the most remote times of which wo
liave record, this romantic site belonged
to a Saxon noble, of the name of Leuric,
whose race was swept away by the Con-
quest, which assigned immense estates in
Derbyshire, to the great house of Peverel.
At the time of the Doomsday survey, Bol-
sover was included among tlie possessions
of William Peverel. At that time the castle
■was not built, though it is probable that
very soon after, this great noble erected the
fortress here, which continued to be for ages
one of the most important strongholds of
central England. The power of the Peverels

was as short-lived as it was great ; for Wil-
liam Peverel, the younger, was forfeited in
1153, for poisoning Ralph, Eail of Chester,
and all his possessions escheated to the
crown. Bolsover Castle became, hencefor-
Avard, a fortress, belonging to the king for
many hundred years, and was a place of
great importance during the many civil wars
of England.

Not long after the forfeiture of the Peve-
rels, Bolsover Castle was given, in 1189, by
King Richard Cceur de Lion, to his brother
John, on his marriage. During the reign of
John, it was in the possession of the Barons
in their wars Avith the king, but Avas taken
from them, by assault, for the king, by Wil-
liam de Ferrers, Earl of Derb)^, who, in re-
compense for this service, Avas appointed
governor. In the same year (1215) Bryan
de Lisle, the former governor, was reinstated.
In 1216 he received a royal mandate to for-
tify the castle against the rebellious barons,
or, if he found it untenable, to demolish it.
In the same year, the king appointed Gerard
de Furnival to reside in the castle with his
wife and family, for the better preservation
of the peace of north Derbysliire. King
Henry III., soon after his accession, ap-
pointed William, Earl of Derby, governor,
Avhich office he held for six years. During
the tAvelve following years there Avas a rapid
succession of governors. About the year
1234, Bolsover Avas given to a lord of royal
descent, John the Scot, Earl of Chester, and
it passed Avith Ada, his sister and co-heiress,
to Henry de Hastings, Lord of Abergavenny.
But in 1243, other lands Avere given to him
in exchange, and Bolsover reverted to the
croAvn. In 12.53, Roger de Lovetot Avas made
governor. In 1301, Ralph Pipard Avas
governor; asAA^as Sir Richard Sturcy in 1395.

Bolsover must have been the scene of
memorable events during the AA-ars of the
Roses ; but no traces or information remain
as to the names of the governors, 'or the
times of the sieges Avhich it may have sus-
tained. There are many A'ery curious notices
of Bolsover Castle contained in the annual
rolls of the Pipe Office, of Avhich there is
a complete series, commencing in the 2nd
year of Henry II., in 1155. From the fre-
quent and large items of outlay expended
on the keeping up of the fortress at Bolsover,
it Avould appear that the successive kings
reckoned it a place of great importance; and
from the constant repairs, of Avhicli it stood
in need, it is probable that it underwent
many of the vicissitudes of war. There arc
fow castles in England of which so frequent
mention is made in the accounts of the IMpe

A great gap exists in our information as
to the casteUans of Bolsover from tlie time
of Richard II., when Sir Richard Sturey Avas



governor, until the 35th year of the reign of
Henry VI., when Edmund, Earl of Richmond,
half-brother of that monarch, and father of
King Henry VII., died possessed of it.
Again we have a long time unaccounted for,
and that a period of great interest, when
Bolsover must have been of peculiar import-
ance, viz., the wars of the Roses — from
the 35th year of the reign of Henry VI. to
the 5th of the reign of Henry VIII., when
Thomas Howard, Uuke of Norfolk, obtained
a grant of the castle of Bolsover. On the
attainder of his son, the castle escheated to
the crown in the 38th year of Henry VIII.
In the 7th year of Edward VI., the king
granted Bolsover to George, Earl of Shrews-
bury and his heirs ; and it remained in tlie
hands of tliis powerful family during the
reigns of Mary and Elizabeth. Tins was
the time when it ceased to be an important
royal fortress, and became, instead, the resi-
dence of a great and wealthy family, who
raised it from the ruins into which it was
crumbling, and gave it a century of splen-
dour and importance. This family was
Cavendish, hito whose hands the castle first
came in 1608. Their connection with it
will require some explanation — but we must
first say a few Avords as to its ancient con-

Before the use of cannon in war, Bolsover
Castle must have been a place of uncom-
mon strength, from its lofty and commanding
position. A considerable garrison was always
stationed there ; and the town of Bolsover
was a place of great imjjortance, being one
of the seven most ancient market towns in
Derbyshire, and probably larger, many cen-
turies ago, than it is now. It stands on the
brow of a high natural terrace, at the end of
■which, on a steep point running out into the
valley, the fortress is situated. The side
towards this terrace is defended by walls
and watch-towers: while all around, on the
table land on the other side, the town is
protected by a high rampart and ditch. This
includes a very much gi eater space than that
whicli is occupied by the present village ;
whence it follows, either, that ancient Bolsover
was very much larger, or that sufficient space
was included within the fortifications to ad-
mit of the encampment of numerous bodies
of troops during civil wars. At all times
the castle was well garrisoned ; but, during
■war, a large military force was frequently
stationed here under the protection of the
fortress, and defended by the fortifications,
which embraced tlie circuit of the town.
Tlie church is very ancient, and tradition
says that tliere are secret communications
between it and the castle. The greater part
of it is early English. But some fine Nor-
man pillars have been preserved, and there
is a most curious sculpture over the chancel

door, representing the Crucifixion, which
dates back to a still earlier period, anterior to
the Conquest. This was the opinion expressed
by the members of the Archaeological
Association on their visit to Bolsover in

During the reigns of Henry VIII. and
Elizabeth, when civil -^'ars were compara-
tively at an end, the fortifications of Bol-
sover were neglected. And after it had been
for some years the property of the Earl of
Shrewsbury, the castle became greatly dilapi-
dated. The earl, however, wedded a rich
and ambitious woman, who was anxious to
perpetuate her name, by erecting magnificent
monuments of her taste and wealth. This
Avas the renowned Elizabeth Hardwick,
daughter of John Hardwick, of Hardwick,
and sister and co-heir of the last Squire of
the Hardwick family. The HardAvicks Avere
a race of considerable antiquity in north
Derbyshire, and had, Avithin the last century
and a half before the birth of Elizabeth,
gradually ascended to the rank of first-rate
gentry. The ancient mansion of Hardwick,
now in ruins, gives a magnificent idea of tlie
position of an English country gentleman at
the commencement of the sixteenth century;
and to the principal portion of the building an
earlier date cannot be assigned. Vast as
tliis mansion was, hoAvever, it did not satisfy
the ambition of Elizabeth, wlio had no sooner
become possessed of her brother's estate,
than slie commenced the splendid baronial
hall which has so long been the pride of
Derbyshire. It is said that in her youth it
w\as predicted to her by a fortune-teller that
she should live as long as she continued
building, and that on account of this
prophecy, slie went on building one mansion
after another — Hardwick, Chatsworth, Old-
cotes, Sheffield, and Bolsover; until, Avhile
engaged in this last undertaking, a liard
frost came on, Avhich interrupted the work,
and old Bess of Hardwick died.

Bess Avas one of the most remarkable
women in England. At the early age of
fifteen, she married a sickly youth. Barlow of
Barlow, whom she induced, on his death, a
fcAv montlis after, to settle his extensive
estates in Derbyshire on her and her heirs ;
which were abundantly produced from her
second marriage A\-itli Sir "William Caven-
dish, gentleman usher to Cardinal Wolsey.
She persuaded him to sell some property that
he had in another county, and to buy the
estate of ChatsAvorth from an old family of
the name of Leech, her own connections by
marriage. On the death of Cavendish, she
married Sir ^Villiam St. Loe, a very Avealtliy
man, whom she induced to disinherit his own
children by his first marriage, and leave
everything to her. Unsated with the Avealth
of three husbands, she noAv made a great



Stride upwai'ds to the ranks of the ancient
nobility, and married George, Earl of Shrews-
bury, head of the illustrious house of Talbot.
She brought him to terms of great poAver
and advantage for herself and her Cavendish
children ; for during his life sJie acquired
the management of his immense estates, and
after his deatli she enjoyed a hirge jointure,
and established a son and daughter advan-
tageously by marriage with her high-born
step-children. To sum up her character, she
was a Avoman of a masculine understanding
and conduct, proud, seltish, unbending, cruel,
and unfeeling. She was a builder, a land-
jobber, a usurer, a farmer, and a coal, lead,
and timber merchant. Slie was, moreover,
a courtiei and politician ; the favourite of
Elizabeth, and the jealous jailor of Mary
Stuart. She was the oppressor of her hus-
band, the tyrant of his family, and tlie
aggrandizer of her own. She outlived her
last husband many years, and died at a
great age, in 1G07, immensely rich, and with-
out a friend!

This lady's connection with Bolsover was
tlu'ough lier marriage with the Lord Shrews-
bury, to whom the castle and manor
had been given by King Edward VI. This
nobleman was of a character which con-
trasted greatly with his imperious wife.
He was a brave and gallant soldier, and an
honourable and upright man. liis behaviour
to the captive Queen of Scots was generous
and noble. He spared no cost on her enter-
tainment. He was a faithful subject, a
generous friend, and a prudent statesman.
Yet, with so many advantages of position
and character, he led a miserable life, de-
voted to the service of a mistress who ex-
acted base compliances of which his better
nature disapproved, vexed by the jealousy
and rapacity of an unreasonable wife, and by
the excesses and cpiarrels of his sons ; and
for fifteen long years the instrument of the
most odious of tyrannies.

It was the ambition of Bess of Ilardwick
to raise the fortress of Bolsover from its
ruins, and to restore it to more than its
original dignity. And although in this work
she was interrupted by death, that Avliich
she liad left luilinii^hed was completed by her
second son, Sir Charles Cavendish.

Bess of Hardwick had many descendants,
and one of them the unfortunate Arabella
Stuart, the daughter of her daughter the
Countess of Lennox, was nearly allied to
royrdty, being, next to James I., heir to the
throne of England. She is said to have been
the only creature Avhom old Bess really
loved, or to wliom she showed affection.
The eldest son of Bess left only an illegiti-
mate son, the ancestor of Lord Watorpark.
But her second and tliird sons were the
founders of the ducal houses of Devonshire

and Newcastle. It is with the second
of these sons. Sir Charles Cavendish, of
"Welbeck, tliat the fortunes of Bolsover
Castle are connected. In 1G08 Gilbert,
Earl Shrewsbury, step-son and son- in law to
old Bess, granted a lease of Bolsover Castle
for a tliousand j^ears to his wife's brother,
Sir Charles Cavendish ; and, a few years
after, he sold it to him for a small considera-
tion. Sir Charles now recommenced the
work which jiopular tradition affirms to have
been begun by his mother ; and on the
foundation of the Norman fortress, arose
the present Castle of Bolsover. It must
have been completed by the year 1G16 ; for
that is the date inscribed on the lofty chim-
ney-piece of the hall. This mansion seems
to have been reared on the exact site of the
Norman castle ; and it is tliought bj' some
antiquarians that the walls and basements
of the pillars of the lower story are those of
the original structure. Be tliat as it may,
the Norman character has been preserved in
the massive pillars and round arches which
distinguish all the rooms in the two first
stories ; Ijut combined with much ornament
foreign to the simplicity of the Norman style,
and marking the period of Elizabeth and
James I.

It is a square castellated mansion, four
stories in height, with turrets at each corner,
except the north-east, where there is a tower,
from the summit of which the view is splen-
did. On the site of the ancient fortifications,
there is a broad wall or barbican, enclosing
an ancient and curious garden, ornamented
with a carved fountain, and numerous stone
seats and summer-houses. The kitchen,
servants'-hall, and laider,are all supported on
massive pillars and Norman arches. The
same character prevails in the hall and
drawing-room ; and the latter especially is a
beautiful room, the roof being exquisitely
carved, and the walls covered with curious
gilded wainscot. But the interior shall be
more particularly noticed when the actual
condition of the castle is described.

Sir Charles had no sooner finished this
castellated structure, than he commenced the
noble ])ile which stands by the side of it,
along the magnificent terrace, and which has
long" been in ruins. The apartments in this
house were on a much larger scale than
those in the castle; and it would seem that
in building the latter. Sir Charles wished to
adhere as strictly as Elizabethan tastes
would allow, to the original Norman plan ;
while in the former, he provided tlie addi-
tional accommodation which his numerous
household required. Sir Charles Cavendish
died in 1G17, and his monument is erected
in Bolsover Church, with his recumbent figure
in armour, under an enriched arch, su]3ported
bv Corinthian columns. Beside him lies liis



rich and noble wife, Catherine, daiigliter and
heiress of Cuthbert Jiord Ogle, of Bothal, in
Northumberland, and sister to Jane, the
wife of Edward, Earl of Shrewsbury, Earl
Gilbert's brother. Sir Charles Cavendish's
epitajjh is quaint and curious.

Sir Charles Cavendish ^vas a man

Knowledge, zeal, sincerity— made religious,
Experience, discretion, courage— made valiant,
Reading, conference, judgment- made learned,
Religion, valour, learning — made wise.

Bii'th, merit, favour— made noble,
Respect, means, charity — made bountiful,
Equity, conscience, oftico— made just.
Nobility, bounty, justice— made honourable.

Counsel, aid, secresy— made a trusty friend,
Love, trust, constancy — made a kind husband,
Affection, advice, care— made a loving father,
Friends, wife, son— made content,
Wisdom, honour, content— made happy.

Under Sir Charles Cavendish's son "Wil-
liara, Bolsover attained to its highest gran-
deur. From knigl'ithood his merits and his
master's favour raised him successively to
be Lord Bolsover, Viscount Mansfield, Earl
of Newcastle and Ogle, Marquis and Duke of
Newcastle. He completed the magniticent
structure on the terrace which his father had
commenced, and he added immense buildings
for his famous stud, which was chiefly kept
here. The riding house is a very noble
room, and the oak beam? and rafters are
even now, in as good order as on the day
that they were put up. The great gallery is
220 feet. The dining-room is near 80, and
the two drawing-rooms, each, near 40 feet in
length. The marquis, Avho was the most
loyal nobleman in England, entertained King
Charles the First at Bolsover with great
maguilicence in 1G33, when he was on his
way to Scotland. The expense of the dinner
is said to have been £4000- Lord Clarendon
speaks of it as " such an excess of feasting as
had scarce exev been known in England before,
and would be still thought very prodigious,
if the same noble person had not within a
year or tAvo afterwards, made the king and
queen a more stupendous entertainment,
which though possibly it might too much
whet the appetite of others to excess, no
man ever after in those days imitated." The
Duchess of Newcastle in her memoii-s of the
duke says, "that the king liked the first
entertainment so well, that a year after his
return out of Scotland, he was pleased to
send my lord word that her majesty the
queen was resolved to make a progress into
the northern parts, desiring him to prepare
the like entertahiment for her majesty, as he
had formerly done for him, which my lord
did, and endeavoured for it with all possible
care and industry, sparing jiothing that
miglit add splendour to that feast, which

both their majesties were pleased to honour
with their presence."*

What a scene Bolsover terrace must have
exhibited on that occasion ! How little did
the actors anticipate what ahiiost imme-
diately followed ; the monarchy swept away ;
the Church subverted, and the aristocracy
and commons of the realm subjected to all
the horrors of a bloody civil war ! The
Castle of Bolsover was held out for the
kuig by the loyal marquis. But the Norman
fortress, which had been a tower of strength
in the wars of the barons and the Roses,
could not hold out one day against the
cannon-shot of the Parliament. The mar-
quis placed a garrison at Bolsover, and he
was there with his staff in December, 1643.
But about the middle of August, 1644, it was
taken by Major General Crawford, the
mark of one of whose cannon-shots is still
to be seen m the side of a lofty gateway.
The parliamentary writers represent it as
having been well manned, and fortilied with
great guns and strong works, and that 120
muskets were taken in it, with much plunder.
But it must have been impossible to defend
it against a battery of cannon planted on the
rising ground on the opposite side of the

After the destruction of the monarchy, the
marquis retired to Antwerp, where he
busied himself in the publication of his
great work on the manege, in which there
are many engravings of Bolsover Castle. On
his return home, at the Restoration as Duke
of Newcastle, he found his estates m great
disorder, and his mansions much dilapidated ;
and his business was, during the remainder
of his life, to restore them to their former
grandeur. He spent a considerable portion
of his time at Bolsover, and but seldom ap-
peared at Court. The digniiied demeanour
and somewhat old-fashioned statellness of
himself and the duchess, did not suit the
taste of Charles the Second's laughter-loving
Court, where they must have seemed the
spectres of the ancient regime. They there-
fore withdrew to their country estates,
where they found ample resources in literary
pursuits. They were both dramatic writers
and poets. The duchess's printed works,
which were chiefly philosophical, fill ten
folio volumes, and she left three more in
MSS. Her works are now rare ; and few
of them Avould afford amusement in the
present day, excepting her life of the duke.
She died in 1673, and the duke three years
afterwards ; and they lie magnificently en-
tombed in Westminster Abbey.

* " Ben Jonson he employed in fitting such scenes
and speeches as he could best devise ; he sent for all the
gentry of the coimtry to come and wait on their
majesties ; and in short he did all that he could to render
it great and worthy tlieir roval acceptance. It cost him
in all between £14,000 and £15,000."



Henry, second Duke of Newcastle, resided
much at Bolsover, and in 1691 died there, in
a bed-room still called " the duke's room,"
and was buried in the vaults of Bolsover
Church. His monument, erected there,
opposite to that of his grandfather, by his
granddaughter, the Countess of Oxford,
yields to few even in Westminster Abbey.

His son. Lord Ogle, married the rich
heiress of Northumberland, Lady Elizaheth
Percy, (who was married thrice before she
Tvas sixteen, and by her third husband, the
proud Duke of Somerset, was ancestress to
the present house of Percy. Lord Ogle
died in early youth, and the Cavendish
estates Avent to Duke Henry's daughter
Margaret, wife of John Holies, Earl of
Clare, who, in 1694, was created Duke of
Newcastle. Their only child, Henrietta,
carried these great estates to Edward
Harley, second Earl of Oxford; and their
only child and heiress was the wife of Wil-
liam, second Duke of Portland, and grand-
mother of the present duke, who is heir of
line of the Cavendishes, Dukes of Newcastle.

It is now many years smce Bolsover
Castle was hdiabited by its OA\aiers. It was
a frequent residence of the second duke,
but since his death, it has been deserted.
And upwards of a century ago the roof was
removed from the magnificent range of
building on the terrace by the Countess of
Oxford, to whom it then belonged. There
is a tradition among the oldest inhabitants
of the village, handed doAvn to them from
their fathers, of a great sale at Bolsover,
which lasted for ten daj^s, Avhen crowds of
purchasers came from all the noighbouruig
counties, as in later times to Fonthill and
Strawberry Hill, to carry off some relics of
the grand old mansion. AYhile the magni-
ficent range of buildings on the terrace Avas
converted into a rum, the Norman keep Avas
preserved in perfect repair, and botli have
been carefully kept up ever since, m tlieir
respective conditions of picturesque ruui,
and habitable house.

The ruins of Bolsover haA'e caused much
speculation, and have given rise to many

idle surmismgs.

Their extent, their com-

parative ncAvness, their great solidity, and
their state of utter rum, haA^e occasioned
many absurd theories. Some have asserted
that they were not built by the INIarquis of
Newcastle until after the Restoration,
when he was duke. This is sufficiently re-
futed by the engravings in his great Avork
on the manege, publislied during his exile,
in which Bolsover is represented as it noAV
is, excepting that Avhat is now ruinous, AA-as
then entire. And moreover, hoAv could tlie
Marquis of NeAvcastle have entertamed
Charles I., Henrietta Maria, their Court, and
all the gentry of the country, if his accommo-

dation had been limited to the old castle,
and that portion of the large building only,
Avhich had been erected by his father ? The
date of Diepenbeck's vicAv of. Bolsover
(1G52), decides the point that they Avere
erected prior to the Civil Wars. Indeed,
they Avere most probably fitted up for the
royal Adsits.

It has also been asserted that these build-
ings never Avere finished. This may be, in
one sense, true. They may have formed a
l^ortion of a grand wliole that never was
completed, as in the analogous instance of
Worksop ]\Ianor. But there can be no
doubt that these apartments Avere completed
and occupied before the .Civil Wars. During
the sequestration of the NeAvcastle estates,
Bolsover suffered much as to its buildings
and its furnituie; but these damages Avere
repaired by the duke after the Restoration.
It is certain that the state apartments were
not dismantled, at all events, until after
1710, at Avdiich time Bassano, in his " Church
Notes," mentions them as furnished, and'
describes the pictures then in the several
rooms, Avhich are said to have been removed
to Wclbeck.

The question has been asked, if these-
buildings Avere finished and iidiabited, how
came they to have fallen so prematurely'
into decay? The answer is very plain.
There -was no occasion to keep up tAvo
great places on the same estate and
within a few miles of each other. And
if tlie choice lay betAveen Bolsover and
Welbeck Abbey, there was no room for hesi-
tation. Welbeck is situated in the midst
of one of ■ tlie finest parks in England,
Avliereas Bolsover Castle is, from its position,
limited as to extent, being built on the verge
of tlie property, and not possessing the
capability of a park. It Avas therefore
prudent to reduce it to the condition of a
ruin, and to preserve only the old house as
a specimen of a restored Norman castle.
It is more than' probable that similar specu-
lations as to its liistory and the cause of its
ruin, AA-ill, ere long, be current as to the

Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) → online text (page 46 of 79)