Newark on Trent – Castle and River

by David Murray on 26 June 2012

in Castles, Nottinghamshire

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 Gardens

Newark Castle as seen from just inside the gate to Castle Gardens

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.

Part of Newark Castle

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.

The River Trent from Newark Castle

The River Trent from Newark Castle looking toward the lock

Newark Castle from the Lock

Newark Castle and the River Trent from the Lock

Newark Castle from the Bridge over the River Trent

Newark Castle from the Bridge over the River Trent

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.

The Gilstrap Centre - Castle Gardens - Newark on Trent

The Gilstrap Heritage Center has displays about castle and town

Newark Castle and town on an earlier post

More on Castles on the Around-England blog

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BARRY mclean HUTTON February 6, 2013 at 05:37

i was born in newark in 1936 went to the mount school left england 1948 live in australia last 64 years good to the photoes of newark again

BARRY mclean HUTTON February 6, 2013 at 05:39

great pictures

Jill Garrood September 24, 2013 at 23:40

My name is Jill Garrood,borne in Newark, 1944. l went to Highfields, Lincoln Covent, also St Clares father was F.G.Garrood, a prominent business man in Newark. I now live in Arizonia.USA. It is good to see the castle, is still standing. And the river and locks look great. We lived as a family in Millgate, so this area was my playground as a child.

David Murray September 26, 2013 at 14:08

Hello Jill, How good to hear from someone who remembers Newark and its castle in the 40s and 50s. It is interesting to know that you grew up around Millgate. I also lived in Newark for a few years, though in mid-life, not childhood. (The photos here on the site were taken on a visit back to see old friends). For eighteen months we lived overlooking the River Trent just off Millgate. In your day there would be a brewery there, close to the White House at the southern end of Millgate. The brewery site is now called “Cooper’s Yard”, with modern townhouses around it, and our back garden according to the old maps that I studied was on what was once the loading bay for barges on the Trent. My wife and I still go back occasionally and always make a point of strolling down Millgate (a conservation area now) and taking a look at the river.

David Murray September 26, 2013 at 14:18

Glad you enjoyed the photos, Barry. Sorry I missed replying for so long. I found your note again when I was replying to someone else who was born in Newark in the 40s. All the best.

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