Bolsover: A Medieval New Town
During the 12th and 13th centuries, as the population and economy of England expanded, a large number of new towns were laid out in most parts of the country by either the Crown or private landowners. Some of these were completely new settlements, whose names do not appear at all in Domesday; others represented a major enlargement of an existing settlement, including the establishment of a market (a necessary pre-condition for the successful creation of a town) as well as an expansion of the built-up area. In Derbyshire, which was among the poorest and most thinly populated counties of England in this period, there appear to have been only two new towns of this sort, at Bolsover and Castleton, both associated with the Peverel family and their two castles. Elsewhere, landowners obtained grants to hold markets and fairs, which may have led to some new building (as for example at Higham where a new settlement was established on the main road to Derby some distance from the older manorial centre at Shirland) but did not lead to the creation of a town.
The image above shows part of William Senior's plan of Bolsover, surveyed in the 1630s, showing the layout of the town centre. (Welbeck Estate Co. Ltd.)