Newark and Sherwood, Nottinghamshire

by David Murray on 5 January 2010

in East Midlands, Nottinghamshire

Newark and  Sherwood covers a widespread area of small towns and villages, as well as extensive stretches of agricultural land.  Once this area on the eastern side of Nottinghamshire, close to the border with Lincolnshire, could also boast flourishing industries such as mining and brewing.

These old industries are now almost entirely gone, being replaced by a wide variety of modern business and commerce attracted by excellent communications, with road and rail contributing today what the River Trent did in past centuries. The sugar industry does still survive, however, and in the season the A1, A46 and A616 carry steady flows of large trucks filled from the East of England’s sugar beet harvest.

Newark and Sherwood

The two sizeable towns in the district are Southwell, home of the Bramley apple, proud of its Minster with unusual twin pepper-pot towers, and Newark with its ancient market place and its castle by the Trent.  In terms of administrative influence Newark is in the lead, the District local government headquarters being in the splendid old Kelham Hall just outside the town, and the town name is known well to rail travelers from its station on the main East Coast line to London.  Newark is by far the larger but in terms of sophistication and calm dignity there is no doubt that Southwell sees itself as having a significant edge.

The district can lay claim to a considerable history.  Major events of the Civil War of the 1640s took place around here. The imposing parish church of Newark, dating back to the early 13th century, still bears the scars from cannon balls fired almost four hundred years ago. In earlier centuries the area was associated with one of the worst of kings and the best of outlaws.  King John was allegedly poisoned and on a gruelling journey died while staying overnight at Newark Castle.  Robin Hood and his merry men roamed among the great oaks of Sherwood Forest.

A wonderful new book came out very recently.  I bought a copy last week and found it to be both highly readable and beatifully illustrated. Not only does it describe and illustrate many facets of life past and present in Newark and Southwell , but it includes other smaller towns and villages such as Ollerton with its old water-driven mill and Tuxford with its windmill.

Both the author, George Wilkinson, and the artist, Penny Veys, are local people who have done a remarkable job of bringing many aspects and places of the district to life in an accessible style with thirty full-page beautifully executed paintings among its total of 90+ pages.

Click here to buy your (hardcover) copy of Newark & Sherwood or click on the book cover illustration above. (ISBN: 978 1 900935 77 7. Published 2009, Cottage Publications, Donaghadee.)

If you are visiting the area and need hotel accommodation click here for a selection of local and nearby hotels.

Afternote: I just came across an interesting photographically illustrated blog post from May 2009 by the historical novelist Elizabeth Chadwick who lives near Newark.  When we first moved into this area in 2003, before moving out to Caunton, my wife and I lived for eighteen months right on the bank of the river (so close that I could have fallen into the water if I’d slipped while doing the garden).  During that period I often wandered nearby with my camera and may one day put some of the more interesting shots on this blog.

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