Newark, a market town in Nottinghamshire, grew up during the early 10th century as a strategic gateway to Northern England, sitting as it did on the intersection of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way, a Roman road built in the 1st century AD. Its castle has featured in some of the most tumultous times in English history and was besieged five times during the Baronial Wars and English Civil War. It is mostly ruined, but its prominent position as you enter the town means that it’s still very much a tourist attraction and despite the drizzle definitely worth a look around!
Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, had a stone castle constructed on the site of an earlier motte and bailey castle next to the river Trent in the early 12th century. King John died in the castle in October 1216 and after his death it was kept by one of his men against the orders of the new king, Henry III. That defiance resulted in the first siege of the castle – for eight days – until the castle was surrendered to the king.
The castle was rebuilt towards the end of the 13th century with a new curtain wall. In the 15th and 16th centuries fireplaces were added and windows enlarged and glazed as it became more of a place of residence than a defensive stronghold. It had been owned by the Church but in 1547 it passed into private ownership under Henry VIII’s Reformation.
Newark was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War, and the castle was besieged three times, finally surrendering in 1646 on the orders of Charles I. Parliamentarian forces had been ordered to destroy the castle, but the plague had broken out in Newark and the order was not fully carried out.
The public gardens within the walls were laid out for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, opening in 1889.