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  • Writer's pictureKelly

"Exploring Medieval History: A Family Day Out at Bolton Castle"



Ad | We were kindly invited along to explore Bolton Castle at the weekend for the Tudor Weekend special event.


A bit about the castle

Bolton castle is a medieval fortress with epic views of Penhill. The castle dates back over 600 years and is absolutely soaked in history. The castle has been noted as one of the most complete and best preserved of medieval England. Originally built by Sir Richard Le Scrope to rival the finest homes in the land. It is still owned by the same family today, Lord Bolton who is a direct descendant.


The castle has seen so much over the years including the imprisonment of Mary Queen of scots for 6 months and The civil war ( and so much more). The original chambers that housed Mary Queen of Scots for 6 months are still perfectly preserved today and you can see how it would have been when she was at the castle. Although she was a prisoner she was still a queen and therefore still had some luxurious furnishings.


The castle has been used as a filming location for many fantastic shows, however the one that stands out for us, as Elliot is THE biggest fan, i Horrible Histories. Part of the castle was used as the Tavern in their movie "BILL" about William Shakespeare.


I highly recommend you purchase the guide book which is packed full of interesting info.




Our Visit

We chose to visit on a Sunday during the Tudor event, I was quite surprised to find it so quiet to be honest, although it did get a bit busier a little later on. We arrived at 10am for opening and found the castle really easy to get to, there's a car park a minutes walk away from the entrance of the castle which also has toilets. You do have to pay for parking here even if you are a Historic Houses member.


You have to make your way through the tearoom to the shop to enter the castle, there are quite a few steps and I would unfortunately say it is not suitable for those with mobility issues or pushchairs. Once you are inside the castle it is extensive. There's so much to see and do. Lots of winding spiral staircases to climb and explore. Most of the castle is open for you to enjoy from the dungeon, which is really small but still leaves a shiver down your back, to the roof with its epic views across the beautiful countryside


We explored the castle, room to room and thoroughly enjoyed our time spent here. It is lovely to see all of the hard work that has gone into preserving such a magnificent building. You can find dress up opportunities, games such as quoits, calligraphy and more.


Now, I have to give a massive shout out to the two lovely volunteers who give the boys a mega history lesson. They absolutely loved it especially Toby who got to hold the real weapon. They went into lots of detail and nothing was any bother for them. You could see how passionate they were about history and I even got to use a rare find Candle snuff that was found under the floorboards (found in a different location) and given to said volunteer as a gift. Elliot talked about the weaponry and armour on the way home and said he really enjoyed this part of our visit. Well done to all involved.

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The Gardens

After an Archaeological survey in 1994, the gardens have been recreated to give you an idea of what life would have been like back in the medieval era.

The gardens are absolutely stunning with different sections to wander around, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the Dyers Garden. As someone who is interested in natural products I just found it fascinating. You can even print a sheet from the website with more details on the plants they would have used. Dotted around are some trails for kids to do as they explore, which is a great idea. Other areas in the garden include the Herb garden, Rose garden, Bowling green, Vineyard which produces around 1000 bottles of wine (not many but hey, at least they can say they grow grapes here! how amazing is that!) and The Mary Garden.


In the gardens you can find a privet maze which was lots of fun and lots of other people were enjoying too. When Elliot realises the place we are visiting has a maze, that is where he wants to spend most of his time! Private tours of the garden are available.


The grounds are also home to Birds of prey, and our Falconer for the day was fantastic. Lee was full of info and answered any questions anyone had. He put on a great show, and we actually went to both displays. The birds are magnificent and it was great watching them fly, although when Zebedee was swooping past my head missing it by an inch was a bit terrifying! All the birds are absolutely gorgeous (do not let that fool you because they could rip you apart with their super sharp talons) My favourite no matter where I go is the Raven, I love them and you can find one here! The flying displays were really good, just the right length for the little kids who were getting restless and Lee made sure everyone knew how to keep safe whilst the birds were out on show.

Falconry experiences are also available as well as Owl experiences and Hawk Walks.


Located in the garden is the Bee Observation Hive, currently no bees active but it is still worth looking at. Such magnificent creatures. The castle is also home to some rare breed sheep including wensleydales that you can see in the nearing fields.


Other things to do on your visit to Bolton Castle

Archery Demo in the Courtyard and kids can have a go. The demo was great and we even got to have a look at some different arrows. Great session although none of my boys had a go because the two older boys thought they were too old and for some reason Elliot was adamant that he was not going to have a go.


Wild Boar feed and talk takes place just next to the car park. Baby Boars have to be the cutest things I have seen. They look so innocent but would happily have your finger off in a matter of seconds so please do not try and touch them. This is the perfect way to end the day and we found all of it to be fantastically thought out out and well planned.


There are planned activities that run throughout the day that but it also leaves you enough time to do everything else too. In fact we spent the full day here from 10am - 5pm although we did have a wander through the village and a peek in the church too which is very picturesque.


Timed Activities include

11.30 Bird of prey display

1.45 Archery demo and have a go

3pm Bird of prey display

4pm Wild boar display






The Tea Room

The tea room is set up in the Guest Hall and is very pretty with a big open fire. The only thing I would point out is if you are planning on eating here please be aware that it gets very busy. We were lucky to get a table and enjoyed A Bolton Pie, Venison pie, Sausage rolls and a Cornish pasty. We also had cakes A rhubarb slice, Orange & Polenta, two Chocolate cakes and a slice of Victoria sponge all washed down with a cup of tea. Everything was absolutely delish and I would recommend you try something. I heard they do some amazing afternoon teas!





The gift shop

In the shop you can find all of the usual gift shop type items including my favourite, the fridge magnets. You can also get a children's activity pack priced at £7.95 which is great value because you get quite a bit in them. An activity book, crayons, pencil, quill pen, small deck of cards and a retro toy.




Good to know

Opening hours are 10am-5pm closing for the season in November. Please do check the website for closures as they host weddings here.

A family ticket for the Castle, Gardens & Grounds is £60 and you can come and go all day if you wanted to.

Dogs are allowed in the grounds but not in the Bird of prey section.

The castle is not suitable to those with mobility needs, it is not suitable for Wheelchairs or pushchairs and the gardens are also uneven

You do not need to pay to go in the tea room

You can download the Bolton Castle app to enjoy an Audio Tour

Toilets on site as well as baby changing


Address for the castle

Castle End

Leyburn

North Yorkshire

DL8 4ET



Events

There's lots going on at the castle and the below is just a few that I have picked out so please check the website for more info

Lord Scrope Household medieval weekend - 18/19 May & 22/23 June

Civil War weekend - 26/27 May & 29/30 June

Family event with Mary Queen Of Scots - 30/31 July & 1 August

Halloween events including a trail 21 October - 1 November


A superb day out for the whole family to enjoy.



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