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Get to know A Bit About Britain - an idiosyncratic view of places to visit in Britain, British history - and stuff. Warts and all. Where shall we go today?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bolton Castle

Castle Bolton Yorkshire Britain
Bolton Castle not in Bolton - a little gem
Bolton Castle surprisingly gives its name to the adjacent village of Castle Bolton.  It sounds so much more impressive, doesn’t it, putting ‘castle’ before the name of the place?  ‘Family Smith’ evokes a far more splendid feeling than ‘the Smith family’?  So anyway, if I hadn’t looked first and realised that Bolton Castle is in Yorkshire, I would have been heading t’other way to Lancashire.  This might have been disappointing, partly because I don’t think there is a castle in Bolton, Lancs, and partly because it’s a little gem, is Bolton Castle (Yorks).  Check before you travel though – the last time we went there was a wedding on and we couldn’t get in.  Not unreasonably, we asked for our parking fee to be returned.  The woman was grumpy.  Hadn’t we seen the signs?  Well, no; if we had we wouldn’t have fed money into the ticket machine would we?  Grr.  But don’t let Mrs Miserable put you off – in every other way Castle Bolton is brilliant.

Castle Bolton garderobe toilet Britain
Mary, Queen of Scots, did time here
Bolton Castle was built in the 14th century by the first Baron of Bolton, Richard le Scrope, an accomplished soldier and statesman, who became Lord Chancellor under Richard II.  One wonders if Baron Bolton toyed with the idea of calling his pile ‘Scrope Castle’, but we’ll probably never know.  It’s still owned by his descendents and has an interesting history.  Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned there – apparently she enjoyed a reasonable amount of freedom, hunting and walking in the gardens.  It is also said that she learned English during her stay, being hitherto fluent only in Latin and French.  The castle was damaged on the orders of Henry VIII in retaliation for the 8th Baron’s Catholic sympathies and was besieged by the Roundheads during the Civil War.  Despite all of this, it is remarkably well preserved and the owners have gone out of their way to show it not only as a medieval fortress, but as a residence too.  The views from the battlements are great.  There are pleasant gardens, a maze and wild pigs root in the woods opposite the car park.  What more could you ask?
Castle Bolton armoury Britain
The Armoury

You’ll find Bolton Castle in Yorkshire’s famous Wensleydale, between Hawes and Leyburn off the A684 north west of Aysgarth.  In the charming village next door, there is also a nice little church, St Oswald’s.  Visit Bolton Castle's website.