Newark on Trent, UK: Historic Market Town, and Home to England's National Civil War Centre

Updated on August 15, 2018
Glenis Rix profile image

Glenis was born and grew up in Newark-on-Trent. She can trace her family history in the area back to the early eighteenth century.

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Newark Castle was partly demolished on the orders of Oliver Cromwell after the town eventually surrendered after the third siege by his troops. The intention was that it would never again have the ability to serve as a defence for the town.16th century inn tucked away in the corner of Newark Market PlaceA medieval timbered building on Kirkgate, Newark. For many years it was a butchers' shop. Nowadays, drop in for a coffee. 42 Castlegate. The late 16th - early 17th century cottage in the middle is where the author's grandmother was born in the late 19th century.Queen Henrietta stayed in this building  when visiting Newark with 3000 troops to rally support for the King's cause during the English Civil War
Source
Newark Castle was partly demolished on the orders of Oliver Cromwell after the town eventually surrendered after the third siege by his troops. The intention was that it would never again have the ability to serve as a defence for the town.
Newark Castle was partly demolished on the orders of Oliver Cromwell after the town eventually surrendered after the third siege by his troops. The intention was that it would never again have the ability to serve as a defence for the town. | Source
Source
16th century inn tucked away in the corner of Newark Market Place
16th century inn tucked away in the corner of Newark Market Place | Source
A medieval timbered building on Kirkgate, Newark. For many years it was a butchers' shop. Nowadays, drop in for a coffee.
A medieval timbered building on Kirkgate, Newark. For many years it was a butchers' shop. Nowadays, drop in for a coffee. | Source
42 Castlegate. The late 16th - early 17th century cottage in the middle is where the author's grandmother was born in the late 19th century.
42 Castlegate. The late 16th - early 17th century cottage in the middle is where the author's grandmother was born in the late 19th century.
Queen Henrietta stayed in this building  when visiting Newark with 3000 troops to rally support for the King's cause during the English Civil War
Queen Henrietta stayed in this building when visiting Newark with 3000 troops to rally support for the King's cause during the English Civil War | Source

The Crossroads to the North

Newark-on-Trent has been strategically important since the Romans invaded Britain and built roads to move their legions throughout the land. At Newark the old Roman Fosse Way, which ran from the Devon coast to Lincoln, linked with the Great North Road, which ran from London to Scotland, and with the road to the east coast.

By the 16th-century, Newark-on-Trent had become a busy and bustling staging post for horse-drawn coaches, which clattered through the town gates and across the cobbled market square frequently throughout the day—every twenty minutes or so. One imagines that the town at that time would have been a noisy, bustling, dirty, and foul-smelling place.

Inns and taverns were built within the walled town to accommodate travellers. The town was a Royalist stronghold, loyal to the King, during the English Civil war of the 17th century. It was besieged three times and eventually the garrison surrendered to Oliver Cromwell's troops. Newark Castle was then partially demolished on his orders. Over time many of the ancient buildings that surrounded the Market Place were lost. But some 16th-century treasures and a wealth of Georgian buildings remain for us to admire.

About the Old White Hart, a 15th Century Coaching Inn in Newark on Trent

  • The oldest surviving inn in Newark
  • 14th-century cellars lie underneath the carriageway and to the right
  • The highly decorative facade dates to 1459. It was extensively restored in the 1980s. It is authentic and style and colour which was copied from original remaining material

The Old White Hart in Newark Market Place. Three storey 15th century coaching inn with carriage entrance to the White Hart Yard.
The Old White Hart in Newark Market Place. Three storey 15th century coaching inn with carriage entrance to the White Hart Yard. | Source

Places of Interest in Historic Newark-on-Trent

There is a wealth of English history associated with this small market town situated on the banks of the River Trent.:

  • The remains of a 12th Century castle
  • The Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene
  • The medieval Market Square
  • The Governor's House
  • The Georgian Town Hall
  • The remains of the Civil War earthworks on the Queen's Sconce
  • The National Civil War Museum
  • Fine examples of architecture from many periods
  • The Ossington—built to serve as a temperance coffee house

Newark School of Musical Instrument Crafts

Situated in an impressive nineteenth-century building that was once the Westminster Bank, is the internationally renowned Newark School of Violin Making and Repair. Here skills are taught that are as much in demand today as they were 300 or 400 years ago. Students come from all over the world to learn how to craft a violin.

An internationally renowned violin making course  courses in piano tuning and repair, and the making and repair of a variety of stringed and wind instruments are offered here.
An internationally renowned violin making course courses in piano tuning and repair, and the making and repair of a variety of stringed and wind instruments are offered here. | Source
Newark Violin School
Newark Violin School | Source

Lady Godiva's Connection With Newark-on-Trent

In 1055 Lady Godiva gave her manor of Newark to the Monastery of St.Mary at Stow near Lincoln. She was the sister to the Sheriff of Lincolnshire, and her husband, Earl Leofric of Mercia, was friend and companion to King Edward the Confessor. Lady Godiva is renowned for having ridden naked on horseback through the streets of Coventry in the year 1040 to save the inhabitants from the demands of her husband who promised to remove them if she would so do.

Painting by John Collier
Painting by John Collier

About Newark Castle

  • Circa 1135 King Henry I granted a charter for the Bishop of Lincoln to build a castle at Newark. Originally a timber construction, it was rebuilt in stone towards the end of the century.
  • Newark Castle boasts a rare bottleneck dungeon (oubliette), one of only two remaining on the planet. The second is on the island of Malta.
  • 1215 - King John, regarded as the evilest king in British history, died at the Castle as a result of a severe case of dysentery (though some say he was poisoned).
  • 1603 - King James VI of Scotland stayed at the Castle en route to London to succeed Elizabeth I and become King James I of England.
  • 1646 - After the capture of King Charles I at nearby Kelham, the Castle was surrendered to the Roundheads who, within days, slighted it to render it useless as a fortress.

Rare Bottleneck Dungeon in Newark Castle

The bottleneck dungeon is one of only two surviving dungeons of this type.The ladder is a recent installation. Prisoners would simply be hurled down the vertical drop. If the fall didn't kill them they were simply left to starve to death.
The bottleneck dungeon is one of only two surviving dungeons of this type.The ladder is a recent installation. Prisoners would simply be hurled down the vertical drop. If the fall didn't kill them they were simply left to starve to death. | Source

Guided Tours of Newark Castle

With the exception of the cold winter months, tours of the dungeons and the towers are held on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, subject to warden availability. Starting in March, tours last for approximately one hour and must be booked at least half an hour in advance, either online, at the Tourist Information Centre, or at the Civil War Centre.

Discover the dark past of the Castle with a tour of the Bottle Dungeon, Barrel Vault and Debtors Dungeons.

Prices: Adults £5, Children, £2.50, Family ticket £12.50

There are precarious steps and ladders to negotiate in the dungeons and the towers, so these tours are unsuitable for children under the age of five and people who suffer from physical disabilities. Suitable shoes are essential.

King John's Tower in Newark Castle

King John's tower at Newark Castle. The room where King John died is up the stairs.
King John's tower at Newark Castle. The room where King John died is up the stairs. | Source

The Death of King John Re-Enacted at Newark Castle

The Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Newark-on-Trent

The Church is adjacent to Newark's medieval marketplace. In medieval times Newark was one of the largest towns in Nottinghamshire, which is reflected in the size of the Church, which is the tallest in the County and reputedly the fifth tallest in England. It has been recorded that after the surrender of Newark to Oliver Cromwell the Church was used to stable his troops' horses.

On a few days in the year visitors are permitted to climb the tower and enjoy a fantastic view of the town. Visit on a market day and you may find that a lunchtime concert is being given in the Church.

The building in front of the Parish Church in the picture below is the Moot Hall. The Hall was built in 1708 on the site of an earlier "King's Hall". It was used for meetings of the Manor Court, the Quarter Sessions, and other official business. But don't be deceived—this 'old' building was demolished brick-by-brick in the 1960s and rebuilt to the original plans, using the original bricks. A coffee shop, with outdoor seating under the pillars, is currently on the ground floor.

The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, locally known simply as 'the Parish Church', seen from Newark Market Place. The building centre-left is the Moot Hall.
The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, locally known simply as 'the Parish Church', seen from Newark Market Place. The building centre-left is the Moot Hall. | Source

Newark Town Hall

Newark Town Hall was built in 1776. It is a Grade I Listed Building of outstanding architectural merit.

The Town Hall is used for meetings of the Town Council and for events and functions. It houses a museum collection of artifacts and gallery of works of fine art by local artists. Admission is free of charge
The Town Hall is used for meetings of the Town Council and for events and functions. It houses a museum collection of artifacts and gallery of works of fine art by local artists. Admission is free of charge | Source
The Assembly Room (Ballroom) in Newark Town Hall laid out for a dinner function
The Assembly Room (Ballroom) in Newark Town Hall laid out for a dinner function | Source

Market Days at Newark in Nottinghamshire

Market days have drawn people into the centre of Newark since the granting of a 12th-century charter and, as in those earlier days, the town is at its busiest, bustling, times on days when the general market is held. Saturdays are particularly busy.

  • Monday (except Bank Holidays) - collectors/antique market
  • Wednesday - General Retail Market
  • Thursday - collectors/antique market
  • Friday - General Retail Market
  • Saturday- General Retail Market

A Farmers Market is held on the first Wednesday of every month. Here you will find locally grown and prepared food and drink including vegetables, fruit, jams, meat, honey, ice creams, dairy produce, and home-baked goods.

Newark International Antique and Collectors Fair

The Newark International Antique and Collectors Fairs are world renowned. They take place on 84 acres at Newark Showground. A few celebrities, including the actress and singer Cher, have occasionally been spotted there.

Tip: A no-hassle way to get to the Fair: arrive by train, or park your car at Northgate train station and then catch a shuttle bus to get to the Fair.

A Late Nineteenth-Century Temperance Coffee House

The Ossington building was built by Lady Ossington in 1882 to serve as a temperance coffee house. Nowadays it houses an Italian restaurant on the ground floor and private apartments on the upper floors.
The Ossington building was built by Lady Ossington in 1882 to serve as a temperance coffee house. Nowadays it houses an Italian restaurant on the ground floor and private apartments on the upper floors. | Source
A
NG24 1JY:
Appleton Gate, Newark NG24 1JY, UK

get directions

Newark Civil War Museum and Newark Palace Theatre

B
NG24 1DU:
Market Pl, Newark NG24 1DU, UK

get directions

Newark Town Hall Museum and Art Gallery

C
NG241EL:
Queen's Rd, Newark NG24 1EL, UK

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The Old Bakery Tea Rooms

D
NG241AW:
Stodman St, Newark NG24 1AW, UK

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The Governors' House (Greggs Bakery)

E
NG241JS:
Church Walk, Newark NG24 1JS, UK

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Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene

F
NG241BG:
Castle Gate, Newark NG24 1BG, UK

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Newark Castle and Grounds Newark Town Lock Lockkeepers Cottage

G
NG241TN:
London Rd, Newark NG24 1TN, UK

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The Odeon Cinema has four screens. The programme changes each week. There is a Costa Coffee shop within the complex

H
NG241BH:
Newark NG24 1BH, UK

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The Ossington. A Temperance Coffee House nowadays housing an Italian Restaurant with private apartments above

A Walk Along Newark Riverside to the Town Locks

The River Trent at Newark was canalised near to the Castle in 1773. The river became an increasingly important means of transporting goods, which were loaded and unloaded on Newark Wharf. A stroll through the circular Riverside Walk passes the locks.

Newark Town Locks
Newark Town Locks | Source
Cross the bridge on the locks for a reviving cup of tea at Lock Keepers Cottage
Cross the bridge on the locks for a reviving cup of tea at Lock Keepers Cottage | Source

The Three Sieges of Newark-on-Trent

Because of its geographic position Newark was strategically important, in terms of keeping supplies and troops moving, to both the Royalists and the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War (1642-1651).

Newark was fiercely loyal to King Charles I. A circle of earth fortifications were constructed outside the walled town—the remains of nine of them are still visible. The Royalist troops repulsed two sieges by the Parliamentarians before surrendering after a third assault. Evidence suggests that the townspeople suffered greatly during this period. Disease raged in the town; and it has been recorded that on occasion the people resorted to eating rats.

Civil War Earth Fortifications. An image of what the Queen's Sconce looked like during the English Civil War.
Civil War Earth Fortifications. An image of what the Queen's Sconce looked like during the English Civil War. | Source

Sconce and Devon Park

  • Sconce and Devon Park is the largest area of open space in Newark
  • Within the Park is the Queen's Sconce—the remains of a Civil War defensive earthworks constructed in 1642 and now designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The Sconce is considered an internationally important heritage feature
  • Facilities within the Park include a park ranger, a children's play area, large areas of grassland and woodland, a riverside walk, nature reserves, and Rumbles Cafe
  • The Park received Green Flag awards in 2013/14 and 2014/15

The Governors' House. A 15th century half timbered building in Newark Market Place During the Civil War it was occupied by successive Governors of the town. KIng Charles I and Prince Rupert are said to have argued here over battle plans.
The Governors' House. A 15th century half timbered building in Newark Market Place During the Civil War it was occupied by successive Governors of the town. KIng Charles I and Prince Rupert are said to have argued here over battle plans. | Source

Hercules Clay

“ Hercules Clay, some time Mayor of Newark, resided in a house at the corner of the market-place [...] For three nights in succession he dreamt that the besiegers had set his place on fire,[he and his family quitted their abode}.They had no sooner done so than a bomb, fired from Beacon Hill, occupied by the Parliamentary forces, and believed to have been aimed at the Governor’s house, fell on the roof of Clay's dwelling, and, passing through every floor, set the whole building in flames."

The quotation is from Cornelius Brown's "A History of Nottinghamshire" (1891).

To commemorate the family's escape Hercules Clay left a sum of money to be distributed in charity. To this day a service is held annually at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene to honour his wishes. A Bible representing Hercules Clay's Bible is brought to the altar by a surviving relative and small loaves of bread are symbolically handed out to the Church Choir to represent Hercules Clay's bequest of £100 to the poor people of Newark.

The Mayoral procession from Newark Town Hall to the Hercules Clay Sermon. The Hercules Clay sermon is also known as the penny loaf sermon or the bombshell sermon.
The Mayoral procession from Newark Town Hall to the Hercules Clay Sermon. The Hercules Clay sermon is also known as the penny loaf sermon or the bombshell sermon. | Source
Exhibit in Newark Town Hall of the Bible That Belonged to Hercules Clay
Exhibit in Newark Town Hall of the Bible That Belonged to Hercules Clay | Source

Newark National Civil War Centre Opening Times and Prices

April - September: 10am-5pm

October - March: 10am-4pm

Prices:

  • Adults £8
  • Concessions (students and seniors 65+) £7
  • Children (5-16 years) £3.50
  • Children (under 5) Free!
  • Carers (accompanying persons registered as disabled) Free!

The National Civil War Centre at Newark-on-Trent
The National Civil War Centre at Newark-on-Trent

17th Century Surgeon's Equipment

Exhibition of 17th Century Surgeon's Equipment (bullet extraction tool) at Newark Civil War Centre.
Exhibition of 17th Century Surgeon's Equipment (bullet extraction tool) at Newark Civil War Centre. | Source
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Re-enactment of the Siege and Surrender of Newark by the Sealed Knot Society. The Sealed Knot Society visits Newark to re-enact the Town's pivotal place in the English Civil War.From this point a hole made by a cannonball in the spire of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene can be seen.
Re-enactment of the Siege and Surrender of Newark by the Sealed Knot Society. The Sealed Knot Society visits Newark to re-enact the Town's pivotal place in the English Civil War.
Re-enactment of the Siege and Surrender of Newark by the Sealed Knot Society. The Sealed Knot Society visits Newark to re-enact the Town's pivotal place in the English Civil War. | Source
Source
From this point a hole made by a cannonball in the spire of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene can be seen.
From this point a hole made by a cannonball in the spire of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene can be seen. | Source
The old bakery tea rooms.Take a break for coffee, a light lunch, or afternoon tea with delicious homemade cakes.
The old bakery tea rooms.Take a break for coffee, a light lunch, or afternoon tea with delicious homemade cakes.
The Prince Rupert. A 16th century wealthy merchants house.  Underwent extensive restoration some years ago and is now a pub/restaurant.
The Prince Rupert. A 16th century wealthy merchants house. Underwent extensive restoration some years ago and is now a pub/restaurant. | Source

Visitor Trails Around Newark-on-Trent

Everything in Newark that is of historic interest is within easy walking distance of the town centre. Pick up a few leaflets at the Tourist Information office, located in the Palace Theatre, to guide you along the fascinating trails.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Telephone Boxes in Newark Market PlaceLadies who love clothes shopping will love this high-end fashion shop in Chain LaneView along Chain Lane to Newark Market Place
Telephone Boxes in Newark Market Place
Telephone Boxes in Newark Market Place | Source
Ladies who love clothes shopping will love this high-end fashion shop in Chain Lane
Ladies who love clothes shopping will love this high-end fashion shop in Chain Lane | Source
View along Chain Lane to Newark Market Place
View along Chain Lane to Newark Market Place | Source
Some of the exhibits at Newark Air Museum
Some of the exhibits at Newark Air Museum | Source

Opening Times and Ticket Prices for Newark Air Museum

The Museum is open every day except for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day

Opening Times:

  • 10 am - 5 pm March to October
  • 10 am - 4 pm November to February

Admission Charges: You can make a Gift Aid Donation as an alternative to normal admissions for accessing the museum. With this new option the Gift Aided Donation includes a 70p or 60p voucher to spend in the Museum Café.

Gift Aided Donation [G.A.D]
Adult G.A.D - £9.35
Over 60s G.A.D. - £8.25
Family G.A.D. - £25.30
Child G.A.D - £4.95

None Gift Aided Price [N.G.A.P]
Adult N.G.A.P - £8.50
Over 60s N.G.A.P. - £7.50
Child N.G.A.P - £4.50
Family N.G.A.P. - £23.00

Under 5s FREE: Special rates for the disabled, students, UB40 holders, serving members of the armed forces, and parties of 15 plus are available on application.
The Family ticket now covers two adults and three children.

Find Newark Air Museum

A
NG242NY:
Winthorpe, Newark NG24 2NY, UK

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Newark Showground, Newark Air Museum, Golf Centre, and Indoor Bowls Centre

The Romantic Poet Lord George Byron Published his First Poems In Newark-on-Trent

Lord Byron visited Newark whilst living in Burgage Manor, Southwell. He stayed at the Clinton Arms Hotel and had his first collection of poems printed at a printing shop just off the Market Place.

You can read more about Byron and his connection with Newark and Nottinghamshire here.

Early 18th century hotel with a piazza of Tuscan columns facing Newark Market Square. One of the grand coaching inns on the Great North Road with notable visitors such at Lord Byron and William Gladstone, it nowadays houses a variety of shops.
Early 18th century hotel with a piazza of Tuscan columns facing Newark Market Square. One of the grand coaching inns on the Great North Road with notable visitors such at Lord Byron and William Gladstone, it nowadays houses a variety of shops.

How to Get to Newark-on-Trent

  • Nowadays you don't need to suffer the discomfort of a horse-drawn coach to get to Newark.
  • The town is on the East Coast mainline railway, which runs from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh, stopping at Newark Northgate Station.
  • An East MIdlands line runs from Nottingham to Lincoln via Newark Castle Station.
  • There is a regular bus service from Lincoln and from Nottingham.
  • Newark is easily accessible by car.

Car Parks in Newark on Trent

A
Lombard Street Multi Storey Car Park Newark on Trent:
Lombard St, Newark NG24 1XX, UK

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Multi-storey car park in the centre of town

B
Newark on Trent Town Wharf:
The Wharf, Newark NG24, UK

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Close to the castle, the riverside and the town centre

C
Riverside Park Car Park Newark on Trent:
Riverside Park, Newark NG24 1BN, UK

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Riverside Park Car Park

D
Castle Station Car Park Newark on Trent:
Newark NG24 1BL, UK

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Newark Castle Station Car Park

E
London Road Car Park:
London Road

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Close to the town centre, the library and the Odeon cinema

F
Appletongate Car Park Newark on Trent:
Appletongate Car Park, Newark NG24 1JR, United Kingdom

get directions

Close to the Palace Theatre

Suggestions for Evenings Out in Newark-on-Trent

  • See a production at the Palace Theatre
  • Visit one of the numerous excellent restaurants in the town or surrounding villages
  • Stop by at a pub for a pint—the Prince Rupert offers a flavour of history, the Fox and Crown has speciality beers. Those who want to be on the water beat a track to the Barge on Newark Wharf.
  • Enjoy a glass of wine at Ann et Vin (live jazz on Saturday evenings)
  • Stray's Coffee Shop has occasional jazz and tapas evenings
  • Visit the multi-screen cinema
  • Try your hand at ten pin bowling
  • Take an evening boat trip on the River Trent
  • Go for a swim at the new Newark Leisure Centre, which opened in 2016
  • Hit a few balls on the driving range at Newark Golf Centre

Ann et Vin Renowned wine shop and venue for all that jazz
Ann et Vin Renowned wine shop and venue for all that jazz | Source

Some Nearby Visitor Attractions

  • Sherwood Forest and the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre. The Robin Hood Festival is held there during the summer
  • Southwell—a quaint small town with an imposing Minster
  • Clumber Park
  • Rufford Abbey Country Park
  • Newstead Abbey—the family home of the poet Lord Byron
  • Belton House (National Trust property)

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 GlenR

    Comments

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    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 weeks ago from UK

      We called in on a Friday and Saturday on our way to and from a stay in Lincoln.We have since said that we will avoid travelling to Newark and Lincoln during the summer holidays because the A46 was so busy. I wonder what percentage of American service men chose to stay in the UK after the war? The air museum and the Polish war memorial are still on our list to visit around Newark. The highlight for us was a free guided tour of the town hall in Newark.

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      6 weeks ago from UK

      Liz, I think that must be the film that was on utube for a while. I posted a link to a Rank Organisation film when I wrote this article but the film has since been removed from utube. There were many American airmen in this area during WW2 -I remember that forty years ago there were still a large collection of dollar notes and coins stuck on an ancient beam in The Old White Hart pub, which it seems was a favourite drinking place for them. The landlord, an old family friend, told me that the Americans made a ritual of sticking the money there and his mother, landlady at that time, decided to leave them there. I hope you enjoyed your visit to my hometown. I think Sunday is the best day to come here as nowadays there is so much through traffic during the week - I’m old enough to remember the good old days when cars were rare.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 weeks ago from UK

      This is a very comprehensive guide to Newark. We were there in the summer and I made some notes and took some photos with the thought of writing an article, but your on the spot in-depth hub has covered most of my points. I only wish I had read this article before I visited the area. We were especially fascinated by an old film we saw in Newark museum. The footage was taken in Newark to show US servicemen in the 1940s what to expect in an English market town.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You're right. You live in a historic and pretty place. I only wish it was not snowing so hard the two days we were there.

    • Glenis Rix profile imageAUTHOR

      GlenR 

      7 months ago from UK

      Well, what a coincidence Mary - a hubpages writer and a visitor to my home town. Try the Real Fish and Chips restaurant on Beaumond Cross - I haven't been myself but have heard good reports. Every visitor to England should try fish and chips at least once.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am reading this to get ideas so we have two choices for tonights' dinner, either the Rupert or the Queens Head. We will leave the choice to our grandson who studies a 3-year program on piano repair, tuning, et al in Newark. You live in a nice place. I wish I had known this earlier so we could meet up but we are leaving tomorrow.

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