Bolton Castle

Last updated

Bolton Castle
Bolton Castle, at Castle Bolton - - 1390969.jpg
The castle from the south
North Yorkshire UK location map (2023).svg
Red pog.svg
Location within North Yorkshire
General information
Location Castle Bolton, Yorkshire, England
Coordinates 54°19′19″N1°56′53″W / 54.321932°N 1.948106°W / 54.321932; -1.948106
Construction started1378
Client Richard, Lord Scrope of Bolton
OwnerThomas, Lord Bolton
Design and construction
Architect(s)John Lewyn
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated13 February 1967 [1]
Reference no. 1130885

Bolton Castle is a 14th-century castle located in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, England (grid reference SE03379183 ). The nearby village of Castle Bolton takes its name from the castle. The castle is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. [1] [2] The castle was damaged in the English Civil War, and “slighted” afterwards, but much of it survived. It has never been sold and is still in the ownership of the descendants of the Scrope family.



The castle was built between 1378 and 1399 by Richard, 1st Baron Scrope of Bolton, and is an example of a quadrangular castle. The licence to build it was granted in July 1379 and a contract with the mason John Lewyn was made in September 1378. Construction was reputed to cost 18,000 Marks. [3] [4] The 16th-century writer John Leland described 'An Astronomical Clock' in the courtyard and how smoke was conveyed from the hearth in the hall through tunnels. Bolton Castle was described by Sir Francis Knollys as having 'The highest walls of any house he had seen'.

In 1536 John, 8th Baron Scrope supported the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion against the religious reforms of King Henry VIII and gave Adam Sedbar, Abbot of Jervaulx sanctuary in the castle. In consequence John Scrope had to flee to Skipton pursued by the King's men but Abbot Sedbar was caught and executed. In retribution the king ordered Bolton castle to be torched, causing extensive damage. Within a few years, some of the damage had been repaired and Sir John had regained his seat in Parliament.

Mary, Queen of Scots, at Bolton

Mary, Queen of Scots was held prisoner at Bolton for six months. [5] The story goes that she escaped and made her way towards Leyburn only to lose her 'shawl' on the way, hence the name ('The Shawl') of the cliff edge that runs westward out of Leyburn and is a well-known spot for easy walks with excellent views.

After her defeat in Scotland at the Battle of Langside in 1568 she fled to England, posing a threat to the position of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I. Mary was initially held at Carlisle Castle under the watch of Henry, 9th Baron Scrope, but Carlisle proved unsuitable and in July 1568 Mary was moved to Bolton. Her primary keeper at this location was Sir Francis Knollys who described the castle, appraising its security;

This howse appeareth to be very strong, very fayre, and very stately after the olde manner of building, and is the highest walled house I have seen, and has but one entrance thereinto. [6]

Mary was given Henry Scrope's own apartments in the South-West tower. Of her retinue of 51 knights, servants and ladies-in-waiting only 30 of her men and six ladies-in-waiting were able to stay in the castle, the rest taking lodgings nearby. Her household included cooks, grooms, hairdresser, embroiderer, apothecary, physician and surgeon. Bolton Castle was not initially suitable for housing a Queen, so tapestries, rugs and furniture were borrowed from local houses and nearby Barnard Castle in County Durham. Queen Elizabeth herself loaned some pewter vessels as well as a copper kettle. [7]

Mary's keepers allowed her to wander the surrounding lands and often to go hunting. Her prime occupation while at the castle was having her hair done by her friend Mary Seton. Francis Knollys (the elder), whom Mary nicknamed 'Schoolmaster', taught her English, as she only spoke French, Latin and Scots. Mary wrote a letter to him in English, when she had "never used it afore". [8] She even met with local "Papists" (Catholics), something for which Knollys and Scrope were severely reprimanded. [7] In January 1569, Mary was removed from Bolton Castle for the last time, being taken to Tutbury in Staffordshire where she would spend much of the 18 years before her execution in 1587. [9]

Later history

Bolton Castle in June 2018, partially restored Bolton Castle June 2018 9535.jpg
Bolton Castle in June 2018, partially restored

After the death in 1630 of Emanuel Scrope, 1st Earl of Sunderland, without any legitimate children, Bolton Castle was inherited by Mary the eldest of his three illegitimate daughters. She married Charles Powlett, 6th Marquess of Winchester and 1st Duke of Bolton.

The castle is currently owned by their descendant, Thomas Peter Algar Orde-Powlett, 9th Baron Bolton, who inherited on his father's death in June 2023. [10]

There is also a garden including a maze, herb garden, wild flower meadow, rose garden and a vineyard on the site. [11] Falconry displays are provided to visitors during some months. The castle is now a tourist attraction and is also rented out occasionally for events such as weddings. [12] Part of the structure is a ruin but the other section has been restored.

Film location

Several film and television productions have used the castle as a location, including the films Ivanhoe (1952), Elizabeth (1998) [13] and the television series Heartbeat and All Creatures Great and Small , when James proposes to Helen. [14] A film about William Shakespeare, "Bill", was also filmed at Bolton Castle using the team behind the popular children's television series Horrible Histories . [15] [16]


Castle Bolton is the name of the nearby village with a population under 100 in the 2011 Census. Bolton Castle is also the name of an electoral ward. The total population of this ward taken at the 2011 census was 1,269. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle of Langside</span> Opening battle of the Marian civil war in Scotland

The Battle of Langside was fought on 13 May 1568 between forces loyal to Mary, Queen of Scots, and forces acting in the name of her infant son James VI. Mary’s short period of personal rule ended in 1567 in recrimination, intrigue, and disaster when, after her capture at Carberry Hill, she was forced to abdicate in favour of James VI. Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle, while her Protestant half-brother, James Stewart, Earl of Moray, was appointed Regent on behalf of his nephew. In early May 1568 Mary escaped, heading west to the country of the Hamiltons, high among her remaining supporters, and the safety of Dumbarton Castle with the determination to restore her rights as queen. Mary was defeated and went into exile and captivity in England. The battle is generally considered the start of the Marian civil war.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wensleydale</span> Upper valley of the River Ure in North Yorkshire, England

Wensleydale is a valley in North Yorkshire, England. It is one of the Yorkshire Dales, which are part of the Pennines. The dale is named after the village of Wensley, formerly the valley's market town. The principal river of the valley is the Ure, which is the source of the alternative name Yoredale. The majority of the dale is within the Yorkshire Dales National Park; the part below East Witton is within the national landscape of Nidderdale.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marquess of Winchester</span> Title in the Peerage of England

Marquess of Winchester is a title in the Peerage of England that was created in 1551 for the prominent statesman William Paulet, 1st Earl of Wiltshire. It is the oldest of six surviving English marquessates; therefore its holder is considered the premier marquess of England. It is also now the only marquessate in the Peerage of England not being subsidiary to a higher title. The current holder is Christopher Paulet, 19th Marquess of Winchester, whose son uses the courtesy title Earl of Wiltshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton</span>

Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Member of Parliament for Hampshire and a supporter of William III of Orange.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baron Bolton</span> Barony in the Peerage of Great Britain

Baron Bolton, of Bolton Castle in the County of York, is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1797 for the Tory politician Thomas Orde-Powlett, who had previously served as Chief Secretary for Ireland. Born Thomas Orde, he was the husband of Jean Mary Browne-Powlett, illegitimate daughter of Charles Powlett, 5th Duke of Bolton, who had entailed the greater part of his extensive estates to her in default of male issue of his younger brother Harry Powlett, 6th Duke of Bolton.

Scrope is the name of an old English family of Norman origin that first came into prominence in the 14th century. The family has held the noble titles of Baron Scrope of Masham, Baron Scrope of Bolton, and for a brief time, the Earl of Wiltshire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Leyburn</span> Market town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England

Leyburn is a market town and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England, sitting above the northern bank of the River Ure in Wensleydale. Historically in the North Riding of Yorkshire, the name was derived from 'Ley' or 'Le' (clearing), and 'burn' (stream), meaning clearing by the stream. Leyburn had a population of 1,844 at the 2001 census increasing to 2,183 at the 2011 Census. The estimated population in 2015 was 2,190.

Knollys, Knolles or Knowles, the name of an English family descended from Sir Thomas Knollys, Lord Mayor of London, possibly a kinsman of the celebrated general Sir Robert Knolles. The next distinguished member of the family was Sir Francis Knollys or Knowles, English statesman, son of Sir Robert Knollys, or Knolles, a courtier in the service and favour of Henry VII and Henry VIII. Robert had also a younger son, Sir Henry, who took part in public life during the reign of Elizabeth I and who died in 1583. From the time of Sir Francis, the family were associated with Greys Court at Rotherfield Greys and Caversham Park, then in Oxfordshire, as well as the nearby town of Reading in Berkshire, where the family's private chapel could once be seen in the church of St Laurence. Lettice Knollys was pronounced the most prominent member of the family, from her birth in 1543 until her death in 1634

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francis Knollys (the elder)</span> 16th-century English courtier and politician

Sir Francis Knollys, KG of Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire was an English courtier in the service of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Elizabeth I, and was a Member of Parliament for a number of constituencies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Orde-Powlett, 1st Baron Bolton</span> English politician

Thomas Orde-Powlett, 1st Baron Bolton was an English politician. He was also an amateur etcher, and a cartoonist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre</span> English nobleman

Thomas Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre of Gilsland, KG was the son of Humphrey Dacre, 1st Baron Dacre of Gilsland and Mabel Parr, great-aunt of queen consort Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England. His mother was the daughter of Sir Thomas Parr of Kendal by his wife, Alice Tunstall.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Scrope, 10th Baron Scrope of Bolton</span>

Thomas Scrope, 10th Baron Scrope of Bolton, KG was the son of Henry Scrope, 9th Baron Scrope of Bolton and Margaret Howard, daughter of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and Frances de Vere.

William George Algar Orde-Powlett, 5th Baron Bolton JP DL was a British peer and Conservative Party politician.

John Scrope, 8th Baron Scrope of Bolton was the son of Henry Scrope, 7th Baron Scrope of Bolton and Mabel Dacre.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Scrope, 9th Baron Scrope of Bolton</span> English nobleman and soldier

Henry Scrope, 9th Baron Scrope of Bolton, KG was the son and heir of John Scrope, 8th Baron Scrope of Bolton and Catherine Clifford, daughter of Henry Clifford, 1st Earl of Cumberland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Scrope, 5th Baron Scrope of Bolton</span> English nobleman

John Scrope, 5th Baron Scrope of Bolton, KG was an English Yorkist nobleman.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bolton Hall, North Yorkshire</span> Grade II listed house in North Yorkshire, England

Bolton Hall is a country house near Preston-under-Scar, Richmondshire, North Yorkshire, England, in Wensleydale, some 3 miles (5 km) west of Leyburn. It was built in the late 17th century and rebuilt after a fire in 1902. It is a grade II listed building, as is an 18th-century folly tower in the grounds.

Sir Richard Lowther of Lowther Hall, Westmorland was an English soldier and official. He was twice High Sheriff of Cumberland and Lord Warden of the West March in 1592.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nappa Hall</span>

Nappa Hall is a fortified manor house in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, England, described by English Heritage as "probably the finest and least-spoilt fortified manor house in the north of England". It stands 1-mile (1.6 km) east of Askrigg, overlooking pastures leading down to the River Ure. A single-storey central hall sits between two towers, a four-storey western tower and a two-storey eastern tower. The four-storey tower has a turret, lit by slit vents, for a spiral staircase that climbs to crenellated parapets. The taller tower retains its original windows, but sash windows were inserted in the 18th century in the lower two-storey block which housed the kitchen and service rooms, at the opposite end of the hall. In the 17th century, an extra wing was added. The battlements are served by a single stair consisting of 70 stone steps.

William Henry Orde-Powlett, 3rd Baron Bolton DL was an English landowner.


  1. 1 2 Historic England. "Bolton Castle (1130885)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 24 February 2008.
  2. Historic England. "Bolton Castle (48868)". Research records (formerly PastScape). Retrieved 24 February 2008.
  3. "Bolton Castle, Yorkshire - Historic Yorkshire Guide". Britain Express. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  4. "Bolton Castle in Wensleydale, family days out, falconry and weddings". Bolton Castle. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  5. "Bolton Castle". Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  6. Joseph Bain, Calendar State Papers Scotland, vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1900), p. 457 no. 733: British Library Cotton Caligula CI f.165.
  7. 1 2 "Bolton Castle". Tudor Times. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  8. Agnes Strickland, Letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, vol. 1 (London, 1842), pp. 78-9.
  9. The Scottish series of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1589-1603; an appendix to the Scottish series. 1543-1592; and the state papers relating to Mary Queen of Scots during her detention in England, 1568-1587. Vol. 2. 1858. p. 870.
  10. Newton, Grace (20 June 2023). "Yorkshire Dales landowner and Bolton Castle custodian Harry Orde-Powlett, Lord Bolton has died aged 69". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 17 July 2023.
  11. "Bolton Castle - Attraction - Leyburn - North Yorkshire - Welcome to Yorkshire". Archived from the original on 22 April 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  12. "Bolton Castle in Wensleydale, family days out, falconry and weddings". Bolton Castle. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  13. "Filming Locations for Elizabeth (1997), around the UK" . Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  14. "All Creatures Great and Small (TV Series 1978–1990)". IMDB. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  15. "Crew member on BBC children's television production in hospital after lorry fall following night out". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  16. "The making of Bill: "wrestling an octopus into a carrier bag"". 23 December 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  17. UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Bolton Castle Ward (as of 2011) (1237325127)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics . Retrieved 4 July 2018.