Welcome to the Friends of Bolingbroke Castle!
This website offers historical articles and pictures of the castle, information about the Friends group (new members always welcome, even if from far away!), news, event details and links to other sites featuring Old Bolingbroke village and/or our Castle.
A view of the castle in winter, with wide moat in the foreground and church beyond. Despite “slighting” during the Civil War, the walls still stand up to 18 feet high in places. Photo: Howard Giles.
Events to enjoy:
Find out more about events staged by the Friends of Bolingbroke Castle.
Click for a history of the castle. Bolingbroke Castle was probably built around 1230 and is most famous for being the birthplace of the future King Henry IV in 1366. Although a military fortification as well as a home, it only ever saw action once, besieged in 1643, during the English Civil War. In 1652 the walls were “slighted” to prevent the castle being used as a rallying point for Royalist rebels during Cromwell’s Commonwealth. By 1718 not much was left of the towers, although the walls still stood. By the C19th all but a tiny part of the castle had disappeared under a great mound of soil but in the 1960s it was excavated by the Ministry of Works. The impressive remains of the castle now stand proudly, open to visitors all year round. Adjacent to the castle is the outer bailey or “rout yard”, which contains an impressive and unusual earthwork thought by some to be a fort built to protect the castle at the time of the siege.
An air view of the castle looking East, probably taken around 1987-90. Since then more of the walls have been exposed and the moat on the West side of the castle has filled with water and rushes. The ditches of the rout yard earthwork (right) are also usually filled with water and except in very dry spells can prove difficult to cross. Photograph by Christopher Cruickshank, reproduced with the kind permission of the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire. Click on the photo for an enlargement.
The Friends of Bolingbroke Castle
In the summer of 2001 a few residents from the village of Old Bolingbroke formed a group which regularly meet to find ways of raising the profile of Bolingbroke Castle and utilising the site for the benefit of the village.
For a small annual membership fee you can help.
The benefits of membership are:
– Contributing towards the welfare and future interpretation of the Castle
– Assisting the village and community to benefit from the castle as an asset
– Newsletter on current issues and forthcoming events such as the annual open gardens weekend in June.
– Occasional talks and guided tours relating to the castle site and rout yard
– Free admission or concessions on some castle and village events organised by the Friends Group
– Attendance at the AGM and other appropriate meetings, including voting rights< Annual Membership fees are as follows: Individual Adult £5.00 - Family £7.50 - Concession £3.50 - Children Under 16 FREE Click the link for a membership form. You don't have to live in Old Bolingbroke to be a Friend - indeed, we welcome members from far and wide. If you would like to learn more about the group, why not contact the Secretary, John Owen on 01790 763766. Queries: Please contact us. Local history group Because our ‘Royal’ village is steeped in such a wealth of fascinating history, the ‘Friends’ are setting up their very own local history group. It is hoped that we will be able to publish various articles and pictures of a bygone era on our web site. Further details will be announced here later, but if in the meantime you have any old documents, photos, maps etc that you are willing to loan and share with us then please get in touch. We would also love to hear from you if you once lived here or have ancestors from the area and are able to share a few memories from the past. You can email or contact the Secretary as above. The civil war siege of Bolingbroke Castle - education pack The Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire's education pack about the siege is now available on line. Click for details. Siege re-enactment on DVD and video Order your copy of an excellent professional souvenir DVD and video of our 360th anniversary re-enactment of the siege of the castle and the subsequent Battle of Winceby in 1643, held on 10-12 October 2003, which featured top regiments of the English Civil War Society. The DVD version also features many photographs of the weekend. Whether you were at last year’s event and would like a copy as a memento to relive that great weekend, are new to the Village and want to find out more, or are interested in C17th history and would like to learn something of Bolingbroke’s important (albeit brief) role in the great Civil War, this excellent DVD or video is for you. They will make a super Christmas stocking filler. The price is £10.00 plus 50p postage (DVD) or £1.00 (Video). Please makes cheques payable to The Friends of Bolingbroke Castle. Please order from: Keith & Gina Harmsworth, 2 The Row, Old Bolingbroke, nearr Spilsby, Lincolnshire, PE23 4HD. Tel: 01790 763423. Also available at the village Christmas fayre - please revisit this page for more details when announced. The English Civil War Society received free copies of the DVD and video to distribute to all participating members (one per household). Interested in English Civil War Sieges? If so, make sure you don't miss the spectacular 360th anniversary recreation of The siege and surrender of Newark Castle, 1646, in Newark, Nottinghamshire on 30 April and 1 May 2006! Free admission. Plus special School's Day, 28 April. Staged by the Newark 1646 Group, EventPlan Limited, the English Civil War Society and Forlorn Hope, with funding from the Local Heritage Initiative and Nationwide Building Society. Visiting Old Bolingbroke The castle is situated in the heart of the pretty village of Old Bolingbroke, nestling at the foot of the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds, about 25 miles to the east of Lincoln. It is a pleasant, quiet village of some 90 homes. A walk around the village takes about half an hour, and there are wonderful longer circular walks up to the surrounding hills. Allow at least half an hour to visit the castle, and don't forget to walk round the outside of the walls by the moat as this shows off the impressive the castle walls (up to 18 feet high) to best effect. Visiting the rout yard and earthwork (see below) will take another half hour or so. Admission to the castle is free (except for occasional events) and it is open all year round. Old Bolingbroke Castle is administered by the Heritage Trust of Lincolnshire on behalf of English Heritage. The rout yard is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster but following a recent agreement is now administered by English Heritage and HTL. Plans are being drawn up to improve interpretation of, and access to, the rout yard & fort. How to get there: Grid reference TF 349 650. Click here for a map of the village (published by CastleUK.net). From the West: A158 to Skegness from Lincoln via Wragby and Horncastle. A few miles east of Horncastle, take the B1195 Spilsby Road, then turn right towards Old Bolingbroke at Winceby House (just past the famous battlefield). From the East: A158 from Skegness to Partney, then A16 to Spilsby, where you turn right on the B1195 towards Horncastle. A few miles on, follow the sign left towards Old Bolingbroke. From the North: A16 from Louth to Spilsby, then as above. From the South: A16 from Boston via Sibsey and Stickney, turning West onto the A155 Coningsby Road at West Keal. Follow the brown castle sign to the right after a mile or so. There are a couple of parking spaces next to the entrance to the castle, but if these are full there is more room in the village, near the church or at the Black Horse pub. To visit the castle's earthwork, follow the brown signs to the castle first (where a couple of parking spaces can be found). Just inside the kissing gate a footpath on the left leads off from the castle into the rout yard. Sheep graze the rout yard during the summer, so please ensure any dogs are on a lead. If visiting during the winter Wellington boots are recommended as parts of the rout yard can be very soggy. The ditch around the earthwork is so wide and deep that the only way into the interior or onto the bank is via the opening (shown on the right of the photo). Even so, it is very wet except in the driest of weather so don't try to do this unless you can leap quite a few feet and in case you miss, have wellies on and don't find getting muddy! Lincolnshire Walks - Click for details of a circular 7 or 10km walk around West Keal and Old Bolingbroke and for other interesting walks. Holiday accommodation If you'd like to book holiday accommodation in Old Bolingbroke, click for details of the Old Stone Cottage. Other places of interest worth visiting nearby Winceby battlefield: The site of the battle on 11 October 1643 where Parliamentarians under Sir Thomas Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell routed a Royalist force seeking to relief besieged Bolingbroke Castle. It isn't possible to walk the rolling farmland much of the battlefield occupies, but you can see a lot of it from the road. Snipe Dales Country Park, Winceby: Enjoy walks around this nature park and see some churchyard tombstones, all that is left of the old settlement and church. The Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby: Home of Just Jane, a restored Lancaster Bomber. Although not airworthy, Just Jane regularly (and noisily!) taxis for the delight of audiences. Spilsby: A pleasant, small market town and home of Sir John Franklin, explorer and (ultimately doomed) seeker of the North-West passage. His birthplace is now the local bakery. Village questionnaire Click for the results of the Friends' Village Questionaire and Survey issued in August 2003. With a wide range of topics covered and cross section of views, it not only serves as a record of how villagers feel about various topics and ideas, but also hopefully offers a fascinating "snapshot" of English village life as we move into a new century. Wanted! Old maps and pictures of Bolingbroke Castle and Old Bolingbroke village! We would like this web site to become a comprehensive archive of information about the castle and surrounding village. If you have any old postcards, photographs, drawings, written accounts - indeed, any other interesting information about the castle or village, please consider briefly lending or emailing them to us so we can post them up here on the web site. Please contact us if you can help. Many thanks!