For a relatively small market town on the flat land of Nottinghamshire, Newark-on-Trent holds great surprises. The city is located at the crossroads of the ancient Great North Road and the Roman road Fosse Way and was once as important a trade center as Nottingham. Its historical significance makes the city even today a wonderful experience.
Newark’s prosperity was based on wool. Merchants from the city bought the product from the local shepherds and sold it to clothiers in Flanders. So it is not surprising that one of the most beautiful marketplaces in the country can be found in the heart of this city. The historic architecture still dominates the city, with the Newark typical red pan roofs stand out in the eye. Most of the buildings were built in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, but the Queen’s Head and the White Hart Inn are in half-timbered houses dating from the Middle Ages. On the 1st and 2nd floors of White Hart, look out for the rows of 24 painted terracotta figures of saints under golden little canopies. Inns Saracen’s Head and Clinton Arms conjure up the days when carriages traveling on the Great North Road stopped by.
In one corner of the marketplace is the Town Hall, one of the most beautiful in England. It was designed in 1776 by John Carr of York. Carr was one of the most successful Palladian architects and is also responsible for numerous country estates, bridges and public buildings. The city’s bourgeoisie once had fun at balls and other social gatherings between the Corinthian columns of the Assembly Room. On your way to the museum and the art gallery on the second floor, take a look inside the boardroom and the mayor’s office. At the top you will find works by local artists, including Sir William Nicolson, the painting teacher of Sir Winston Churchill.
Stroll through the streets lined with shops and restaurants around the market square and you will notice the symmetrical structure of the city. This is one of the best examples of a planned city created by Norman bishops. Near the square, next to a row of houses from the 18th and early 19th century, is the church of St Mary Magdalene. This is in no way inferior to the famous St Wulfram’s in neighboring Grantham in terms of design quality and stonemasonry and boasts the highest church tower in the county of Nottinghamshire.
In the nave with the wide corridors and the many windows there is a wonderful bright atmosphere. The construction of this church lasted almost 200 years and was completed around 1500. Parts of the Anglo-Saxon church from the 12th and 13th centuries, which once stood in this place, were reused, eg. B. the pillars in the crossing. Stone carvings in the crypt can be dated to the year 1180 and the choir chair is also from the Middle Ages. Look for the pictures of a dragon, an eagle, and a man on the back of a lion attacking a monster with a lance.
Various stained glass elements also come from the Middle Ages and show scenes of the Old and New Testaments. These are located in the Holy Spirit Chapel, next to the huge memorial window for Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Outside the church you can discover wonderfully crafted figures and scenes. In one, two men fight, with one pulling the other’s hair. And if you are lucky, the bells will ring. There are 10 in number and their sound is truly heavenly.
However, the most famous building in the city is the castle or its ruins, which guard the city on the eastern bank of the River Trent. The castle was built around 1170 and is famous for the fact that King John blessed the time here on October 16, 1216 while traveling in the area to fight the rebellious barons. He came here from King’s Lynn, heavily marked by the Ruhr, after having lost the crown jewels during a river crossing under stormy conditions.
The castle later became an important base for the royalists, after which Charles I raised the banner of war in nearby Nottingham in 1642. Newark provided about 600 soldiers and was besieged three times before the city was rescued in 1644 by dashing cavalry general Prince Ruprecht of the Palatinate.
The castle was never occupied during the entire civil war. Before the last siege, two forts were erected in front of the city for defense. The earth ramparts of the Fort Queen’s Sconce can still be discovered today in Devon Park, named after the neighboring river. In 1645 Charles surrendered to the Scottish army in Newark, and the following year he ordered the capitulation of the castle, after having withstood the last siege for more than six months. The parliamentary army then destroyed the castle and left it in its present – still impressive – state back. So there are still vaulted cellars, dungeons, staircases and passages to explore.
Because of its history, Newark is the perfect location for the National Civil War Center, a museum that opened its doors in 2015 (on Appleton Gate Street). This bloody conflict in the 17th century divided families and ended with the public beheading of Charles I in London. Explore the causes of this conflict through contemporary objects and learn about the battles between royalists and parliamentarians. You can even watch an HD movie theater here, and you can download an app that brings you closer to the personal experiences of those involved, from Karl I. to John Twentyman, an eyewitness.
For war and defense, the city’s celebrated Newark Air Museum, which features 70 aircraft and a variety of other interesting exhibits, is also just outside the city. On the River Trent, in the Newark countryside, you can discover the warehouses and malting plants during a boat trip, witnesses of a time when coal, wool and other goods were transported on the river. On board the boat you also have a great view of the mighty castle.