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Grand Medieval Joust at Bolsover Castle

Grand Medieval Joust at Bolsover Castle

This Bank Holiday Weekend we decided to go to the Grand Medieval Joust at Bolsover Castle in the East Midlands, The idea of watching jousting came from when we watched an American reality TV show last year called Full Metal Jousting. The show was discovered while flicking through channels, and at first we couldn’t understand why anyone would make a show about a jousting competition, but after the first episode we were hooked. The show features full contact, authentic competition jousting, but unfortunately this is not a sport which has taken off in the UK, so instead we went to watch unchoreographed theatrical jousting.


Bolsover Castle is an English Heritage site in Derbyshire, a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Built by the Peverel family in the 12th Century, it became Crown property in 1155. In 1612 the property was bought by Sir Charles Cavendish who began work on the Little Castle Project, and later his son Sir William Cavendish continued until its completion. During the event we also had the opportunity to explore the Castle and the grounds, and it is ‘Sir William Cavendish’ who officiates our Grand Medieval Joust.

The Joust itself features 4 Knights from the four corners of Britain; the Blue Knight from the North, the Red Knight from the South, the Green Knight from the West, and the Yellow Knight from the East. Of course, we were cheering for the Blue Knight! Each pair of Knights has two passes against each other, and after facing each other opponent, the two with the highest scores run a last two passes in the final before the winner is crowned.

The Knights wore armour weighing 5 1/2 stone, and their helmets vastly reduce visibility, making every strike on target more spectacular.

The jousting at Bolsover castle it theatrical, meaning that the lances are not as heavy and much more easily broken than in competitive jousting. This means that the jousting is much safer, and the riders are unlikely to become unhorsed or injured. However the jousting was not choreographed, meaning that each Knight used all their skill on each pass to score the highest points, resulting in lots of broken lances throughout the day!

Knights scored 3 points for breaking a lance on their opponent’s shield, and one point for breaking a lance elsewhere on their opponent’s armour. But finally it was the Blue Knight for the North and the Red Knight for the South who were to face each other in the final, and it was our Blue Knight who was victorious!

Other than the jousting Bolsover Castle offered a variety of tents where you could learn about Medieval life, a Jester to keep the kids entertained, falconry shows, weapons displays, musicians, Knight training and foot combat.

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