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.
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.
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.
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‘s authentic style and colour were copied from original remaining material
About Newark Castle
- 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 most evil 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 Death of King John Re-Enacted at Newark Castle
The Parish Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Newark-on-Trent
In medieval times Newark was one of the largest towns in Nottinghamshire, which is reflected in the size of the Church, the tallest in the County and the fifth tallest in England.
On a few days in the year visitors are permitted to climb the tower to enjoy a fantastic view of the town.
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.
Newark Town Hall
Newark Town Hall was built in 1776. It is a Grade I Listed Building of outstanding architectural merit.
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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.
A Late Nineteenth-Century Temperance Coffee House
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. The inhabitants suffered greatly during this period. Disease raged in the town; and it has been recorded that people resorted to eating rats.
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.
Hercules Clay’s Bequest to the Poor
To commemorate his family's escape from bomb, 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 descendant 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.
“ 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."
— Cornelius Brown - A History of Nottinghamshire (1891)
The National Civil War Centre in Newark-on-Trent
- National Civil War Centre, Newark
The National Civil War Centre was opened in 2014. It is part of a complex which includes the Palace Theatre and the Tourist Information Office.
A Tudor Building in Newark-on-Trent
Newark on Trent in Bygone Days
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Glen Rix