This past weekend I was in Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire. On Monday morning the weather was good enough to go out with the camera so here is a selection of my shots from the hour that I spent around the castle and the river.
Newark Castle dates from the 12th century. It was built by the then Bishop of Lincoln, allegedly more as a statement of power and prestige rather than out of strategic necessity. Actually, he didn’t get to enjoy it for long as he fell foul of King Stephen who imprisoned him and demanded that he surrender Newark Castle to the crown. Early in the 13th century it was here that “bad” King John died amid suspicions of poisoning, having been taken ill whilst travelling.
Later bishops of Lincoln held the castle until at last Henry VIII demanded it in 1547. The structure from which the present remains originate come from major rebuilding over several centuries. (More on Newark Castle history).
On the whole things seem to have been relatively peaceable at the castle for much of its life. However, it was frequently leased to a variety of occupiers who were supposed to maintain it, but it gradually fell into decay.
Then during the 17th century civil wars Newark was a Royalist town. Both the town and the castle stood against the besieging Parliamentary armies on three occasions during the civil wars, eventually surrendering in May 1646. This brought the functional life of Newark Castle to an end. The Parliamentary forces were ordered to destroy it.
Subsequently, as with many other buildings destroyed during that period, much of the stonework was cannibalised either legally or otherwise and incorporated into other buildings in the neighbourhood. What we have today is little more than one side of the shell. Having said that, however, it is still an imposing shell, especially when viewed from across the river.
In 1844 the great restorer of medieval buildings Anthony Salvin made extensive repairs. In the late 19th century it was bought by the town and the Castle Gardens developed for the enjoyment of the people, being opened to the public on the day of Queen Victoria’s 70th birthday. There was a further major refurbishment in the run up to the 2000 millennium celebration.
There are excellent informative displays on the history of both the castle and the town in the Gilstrap Heritage Centre to one side of the Castle Gardens.
Newark Castle and town on an earlier post
More on Castles on the Around-England blog