Bolsover Castle has been a tourist attraction since 1945 and over the past 70 years hundreds of thousands of visitors have been wowed by the beauty of the Little Castle and the spectacular Riding House.
But now for the first time in living memory, lodges built into the thick castle walls are being opened to the public.
Keith Holland, English Heritage manager at Bolsover Castle, said: “Mystery surrounds the purpose of these lodges. “The Master’s Lodge is certainly quite grand with two rooms, and ornate fireplaces.
“There are a further two lodges either side of the main gate, again with impressive fireplaces. Who used them and for what purpose is a mystery. They may have been used for entertaining.
“William Cavendish was a cavalier who built the castle for pleasure rather than war. You can see the grandeur of his entertainment by the grand fireplaces in the lodges and the inner room in the Master’s Lodge also has the same floor as the beautiful and ornate Pillar Parlour in the Little Castle.
“An alcove in one of the other lodges has the remnants of a yellow and orange shell decoration painting.
“Another possibility is that the lodges were used by the local Bolsover militia the ‘White Coats’. William Cavendish held various political offices, including Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, and the militia would have come under his command. There are four ‘cupboards’ in the walls of one of the rooms in the Master’s Lodge that are the perfect size to fit a 17th Century musket.
“The militia would have needed somewhere in the local area to store their munitions, what better place than this lodge.”
“Previous visitors have also left their mark in these Lodges with centuries old graffiti, a great deal coming from the Victorian period. A group from Wicken Congregational Church, Sheffield visited in 1890 and left their list of attendees on the wall of one of the Lodges.”
The Master’s Lodge is open for visitors to look round and an English Heritage volunteer or member of staff is on duty in the area with keys to show visitors inside the two Gate Lodges.
Says Keith Holland, “We have opened the Lodges as a temporary additional attraction as part of our winter timetable. Bolsover Castle is now open every weekend until the end of March 2013. We currently have no plans to open the Lodges after the end of March 2013.”