The Palace and the Pub

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Off to visit Apethorpe Palace today with Chris and Gill!

The Palace

Apethorpe Palace

We last visited here back in August 2011 with Nicki, when it was known simply as Apethorpe Hall. Since that time, it’s been sold-off by English Heritage (December 2014) to one Baron von Pfetten, a French anglophile. English Heritage are still responsible for the day-to-day running as well as the marketing, but as part of the arrangement, the Baron has made an 80-year commitment of 50 days public opening a year (hurrah!). This is a far more extensive undertaking than the normal period of 10 years, in the case of English Heritage’s other grant-aided properties.

Simon Thurley, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, welcomed the purchase, saying:

Since 2000 English Heritage has consistently said that the best solution for Apethorpe is for it to be taken on by a single owner, who wants to continue to restore the house and to live in it; especially one who has experience of restoring historic buildings and is prepared to share its joys with a wide public, as Baron Pfetten will do.

Located west of Peterborough, the regular Tours are of the timed sort (you can’t just turn up and wander around) – and we arrived for our 10.30 slot just a minute ahead of the stipulated instruction: “Don’t arrive more than 10 minutes before the start of your tour”.

They still let us in! 😁 Parking was a smallish tarmac affair with a polite warning about the legion of cats in residence! Anywhere with cats gets our vote! 😍

According to Wiki: “Apethorpe holds a particularly important place in English history because of its ownership by, and role in entertaining, Tudor and Stuart monarchs. Elizabeth I inherited the palace from her father Henry VIII. Her successor James I personally contributed to its extension resulting in a set of impressive state rooms featuring some of the most important surviving plasterwork and fireplaces of the period”.

Work in progress…

Back to 2019, and the first thing to note is that currently, the Palace is (still) very much ‘work-in-progress’. Last time we visited here it was mostly a building-site inside, whereas this time, it’s a lot more navigable, although no photos are allowed inside or out.

Our Guides David and Julie did a great job explaining the history of the Palace. Architecturally, it’s a bit of a mish-mash on the outside, boasting at least four architectural styles across four centuries! Inside, as I’ve mentioned, is now a lot easier to get around, but overall, it’s still very spartan with only the (rather well preserved) fireplaces and plasterwork in each room to act as a focal point. Those expecting a typical ‘old house’ full of authentic contents of the age will be very disappointed. We weren’t though, as a lot of good work has already been done to the ceilings to bring them back their former glory.

It’s a very large local attraction with years of renovation and repair still to do, and ffter the ninety-minute tour, we all agreed it had been very worthwhile. It’ll be worth re-visiting in a few year’s time to see the progress! 😉

The Pub

All that culture gave us a thirst and an appetite, so we headed for The Queen’s Head in nearby Bulwick (pop: 152!) – The Village Pub is another establishment that’s been rescued in recent years and you can read more about their story HERE.

It was our first visit here and everything exceed our expectation! The service and quality of the food was excellent and I’m sure we’ll be back again before too long! Another fine eating establishment to add to our list of faves! 😁

Click above to read the amazing choices in detail

It was then back to ours for a quick cuppa before saying our goodbyes. Nicki is due later and then we’re off to our weekly Archery Lesson!

Bolsover Castle with Dennis & Sandra

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Bolsover Castle

We headed for Bolsover Castle today to meet up with our friends: Dennis and Sandra. We haven’t seen them since we all visited Belton House back in May, and it was good to catch-up.

9.20am: ETA was 11am, so we left just before 9.30 and had a trouble-free journey there (although the traffic on the M1 was pretty heavy in places).

Apparently, we’d visited Bolsover Castle around 20 years ago, but as usual, none of it rang a bell to me! A quick check of my blog revealed that it must have been pre-blog (2004) days as there was nothing recorded – so that didn’t help much! Sad smile Bolsover Castle is best described as a 17th Century aristocratic retreat and it was initially owned by Charles Cavendish and then, his son, William Cavendish – the 1st Duke of Newcastle – the latter better known as The Father of Dressage. In all, you have the remains of the castle, the House and the Stables, all maintained by English Heritage.

11.05am: Parking was, shall we say, ‘challenging’ with both nearby car-parks already full. Fortunately, after a couple of laps round the local road, we spotted a sign for ‘overflow parking’ – not a massive number of spaces on offer, but we only needed one – and as it turned out, right next door to Dennis and Sandra who’d arrived 30 seconds before us!

The Stables

The House

…with stunning views across Derbyshire! Inside was a treat too…


…with priceless interiors!


11.55am: It didn’t take long to take it all in, but the combination of a roofless castle (a bit like Kirby Hall near us), the stunning vistas and plethora of rooms, combined to make it a very memorable (hopefully) visit!

We decamped in the Café for a drink whilst planning Lunch! Bolsover isn’t known for an abundance of eateries, but a quick check of Google revealed a few Pubs that were within walking distance.

Actually, as things turned out, there was somewhere suitable right on our doorstep, that we discovered within two minutes of exiting Bolsover Castle

The Pillar of Rock – courtesy of Mr Wetherspoon! It was already busy by the time we arrived, but were able to secure a cosy table-for-four in the corner. The food and service didn’t disappoint, and we had plenty of time for a long catch-up. In fact, by the time we’d finished eating and talking, it was getting on for 3.30! Talk about a long lunch! Smile 3.45pm: We took the short walk back to the car, said our goodbyes and headed for the M1.

It had been a great place to visit, with a lot to see – and in surprisingly good condition, given its age. But I think if it hadn’t been for the Pub/Restaurant almost next door, we might have struggled to find somewhere suitable to eat as Bolsover is only a small town. Still, it was all very agreeable!

There’s a few additional photos HERE. Thumbs up