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!
Entering the Castle gardens
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.
Filed under History, Places
The first time I ever visited Tantallon Castle in East Lothian, Scotland, I was the first and only visitor of the day at 3pm, although this may have had something to do with the gale-force winds and torrential rain that made climbing the towers a distinctly exciting experience!
Luckily, the second time I visited the weather was a lot more conducive to looking around and taking in more than sea spray, and I’m glad I went back because Tantallon is truly stunning. Built by the Douglas family in the 14th century, the huge 50 foot curtain wall and towering cliffs provided a formidable fortress.
Tantallon was eventually destroyed in 1651 by Oliver Cromwell’s army but a surprising amount of the castle still remains, including some of the living quarters. The climb to the top of the curtain wall is hard-going (and can be treacherous in wet or icy weather) but it’s worth it for the incredible views.
Tantallon is signposted from the A19 and there is a car park, although the castle itself is reached via a footpath that can be very muddy in wet weather. Good footwear and a warm coat are essential! The visitor centre sells souvenirs and a guidebook.
Filed under History, Places
I never seem to have enough time to spend at Conwy Castle but it’s one of my favourite castles in the UK. Built by Edward I in the 13th century as part of an “iron ring of castles” to subdue the rebellious Welsh, Conwy still dominates the surrounding landscape.
While the interior of the castle is not as complete as Caernarfon, Conwy is well worth a visit.
Bolsover Castle – in its original form – was built in the 12th century by the Peverel family. In 1553 it was bought by Sir George Talbot, later to become the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury and husband of the redoubtable Bess of Hardwick.