The Riding House Range

Riding School from jo-h via flickr

Riding School from jo-h via flickr

The Riding School Range is situated within the outer walls of Bolsover Castle, Enclosing the South side of the great courtyard.

William Cavendish was an avid horse rider and had this range of buildings built in the 1630’s to accommodate, train and show off his horses. Cavendish trained in horsemanship at the Royal Mews and was considered an authority on the art of Menage, so much so that he was engaged as tutor to the Young Prince Charles (later to become Charles II).

The range consists of four sections:

The forge and ‘shooing’ house

Used to keep make and repair the equipment and shoes for Cavendish’s Horses.

The Riding House

Riding House InteriorThe main door to the Riding House is a grand stone portico which provided a suitably impressive entrance to the Riding House.  The building also has rows of impressive lower and upper windows

The beautiful interior of the Riding House is a fine example of the Italian influenced designs that are prevalent in Bolsover Castle. Even today it retains much of the grandeur that it must have exhibited when first built.

The oak beams were originally hidden by a ceiling, but it perhaps look grander today with the beams on show.

The Riding House was not used to teach people to ride horses, but rather to teach the horses the art of Manage.  Menage consists of horses circling, leaping, kneeling in carefully choreographed displays, much like modern dressage.

The viewing gallery at the West side of the Riding House was added in the 1660’s to enable the aging William Cavendish to observe the training of the horses once he could no longer train them himself.

The Stables

This building is now used as the Discovery Centre, but originally provided stabling for William Cavendish’s horses.  Of course, only the finest horses would have been kept within this range.

The Stable block was later converted into two grand suited of rooms, and fireplaces, internal walls etc. were added.  The building later lost it’s roof and was used as a shed and pig sty, before it was abandoned as the castle fell into ruin.

The Accommodation block

Living quarters, possibly for grooms and the Master of the Horses.