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Bolsover, Derbyshire

Historical Description

Bolsover, a small town, a township, and a parish in Derbyshire, with a station on a branch of the M.R. The town occupies the summit of a steep hill, 6 miles E of Chesterfield, 8 from Mansfield, and 4 from Langwith. It is rapidly growing, and bids fair to become soon a very populous place by the development of the coal industry. The East to West railway runs close to the town, which commands a splendid view, and retains traces of fortifications which once surrounded it. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office under Chesterfield, formerly had a market, and once carried on a famous manufacture of steel buckles and spurs, subsequently engaging in the making of tobacco-pipes and fire-bricks. The parish includes also the hamlets of Whaley Thorns, Whaley, Oxcroft, Stanfree, Shuttlewood, Woodhouse, and the township of Glapwell. Acreage, 4955; population of the civil parish, 3662; of the ecclesiastical, 3748. The manor belonged at the Conquest to Peveril of the Peak, passed to the Earl of Morton, afterwards King John, went in the time of Henry III. to the Earl of Chester, and afterwards to Lord Abergavenny; was resumed, in 1243, by the Crown, passed to Roger Lovetot, the Pipards, the Sturys, the Earl of Richmond, and the Duke of Norfolk; reverted again to the Crown; went in the time of Edward VI. to Sir John Byron, and afterwards to Lord Talbot and Sir Charles Cavendish; descended from the last to the Dukes of Newcastle, and passed from them by marriage to the Dukes of Portland. A Norman keep was built on it by the Peverils, and was of military importance in the troubles of the time of King John. A palatial castle superseded this under Sir Charles Cavendish, the founder of the ducal house of Newcastle; was besieged and partly demolished in 1644 during the Civil War; underwent partial reconstruction after the Restoration, was unroofed about the middle of last. century, and is now a picturesque ruin. The Earl of Newcastle three times entertained Charles I. and his Court here, and on one of these occasions, which was assisted by the genius of Ben Jonson, spent about £15,000. The riding-house is still in good order, and the Tudor restoration of the Norman keep was till lately used as the parsonage. A yellow magnesian limestone is quarried in the parish. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Southwell; gross value, £120 with residence. Patron, the Duke of Portland. The church is Norman, with later additions in different styles, and contains splendid monuments of the Dukes of Newcastle and Portland, and a number of other monuments. It was thoroughly restored in 1877. There are Congregational, Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, and charities of over £100 yearly.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyDerbyshire 
Ecclesiastical parishBolsover St. Mary 
Poor Law unionChesterfield 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The register of St. Mary's dates from the year 1603., in conjunction with the Derbyshire Record Office, have the Church of England Baptisms (1538-1916), Marriages and Banns (1538-1932), and Burials (1538-1991) online.


Church of England

St. Mary (parish church)

The church of St. Mary, a building of stone, consists of chancel, nave, south porch, aisles and a western tower with a low broach spire, containing a clock and 8 bells, of which 6 were renewed in 1898, and the octave completed in 1902: the early Norman edifice, erected about 1020, was partly rebuilt about 1200: the piers of the chancel arch and a doorway and window in the south chancel wall are the principal remnants of the old Norman building: the tympanum of the south chancel door bears a representation of the "Crucifixion," with figures of St. Mary and St. John: the tower was built during the Early English period: the whole of the north aisle and porch are also in this style, and in the north aisle are two Perpendicular windows: on the south side of the chancel is a large slab roughly incised with the figures of a man and woman with five children kneeling below them, and a defaced inscription to William Woodhouse, 1310: in the south aisle is a recess, inclosing a stone slab, discovered in 1704 outside the north door, placed face downwards, and used as a doorstep; it is rudely carved in high relief with a representation of the "Adoration of the Magi," once richly coloured and probably originally stood above the altar in the Norman church of William Peveril: at the east end of this aisle is another recess, and a door opening into the Cavendish chapel, which is filled with monuments to members of this family, fourteen of whom are here buried; these memorials include one to Sir Charles Cavendish kt. of Welbeck Abbey, erected by his wife Catherine, Baroness Ogle, in 1617, with an epitaph by Ben Jonson, and another of larger size in the Italian style, erected in 1691 by Henrietta (Cavendish-Holles) Countess of Oxford, to her grandfather, Henry Cavendish, and Duke of Newcastle, ob. 1691, and his daughters: there is an ancient aumbry and modern sedilia: the font is remarkable for its admixtures of styles: the roofs were lowered and various alterations made in Queen Anne's reign; in 1834 other changes took place, but the church was fully restored in 1878, under the direction of Mr. William Mitchell-Withers, architect, when the galleries were removed, the interior reseated, an organ chamber and north aisle added, and a rood screen of old carved oak erected: on Sunday, Jan. 24th, 1896, a fire broke out in the vestry, which severely damaged the interior of the church as well as the clock and bells: the church has since been thoroughly restored at a cost of £10,000, including new seats, bells, clock and organ, and was reopened Sept. 21st, 1898: there are 850 sittings.


Congregational Chapel

The Congregational chapel was first founded in 1630; the present building was erected in 1893, and will seat 700 persons.


Primitive Methodist Chapel

The Primitive Methodist chapel, erected in 1898, has 300 sittings.

Wesleyan Chapel

The Wesleyan chapel, built in 1897, has 500 sittings; the previous chapel, built in 1865, was later used for the Sunday school and for meetings.

Roman Catholic

Catholic chapel, High Street

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bolsover from the following:

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Derbyshire is online.


Online maps of Bolsover are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Derbyshire papers online:

RegionEast Midlands
Postal districtS44
Post TownChesterfield