Newark is one of the most interesting and attractive towns on the River Trent. The town is steeped in history, with a picturesque old ruined castle overlooking the river, a large cobbled market square and a wealth of fine old buildings.
Newark-on-Trent's Historic Market Place © TAB
Once an important centre for the wool and cloth trade (from the 12th-C onwards), the town is situated at the junction of two ancient highways; the Great North Road and the Fosse Way. The town is also sited at the crossing of two major railway lines; the East Coast Main Line and the Nottingham to Lincoln Line.
Today Newark is large busy place surrounded by industry and modern housing but much of the old town and market area has survived relatively untouched, and is full of charm and character. It is certainly worth visiting Newark on a market day to see the old cobbled square filled with rows of colourful stalls, selling all kinds of wares.
Newark-on-Trent Market days:
|Mon & Thur for antiques and crafts
Wed, Fri & Sat for general retail sales.
Many preserved buildings in the old town centre and around the market square hold great historical significance.
Two interesting old inns, sited on the south side of the square, are the 14th-C White Hart Hotel and the Clinton Arms, where W. E. Gladstone (soon to be Prime Minister) made his first public speech in 1832. The immaculately restored White Hart is one of the county's finest timber-framed buildings; ornately decorated with rows of sculptured figures. Also near the market place is a late 16th-C half-timbered house once used as the official residence of the Governors of Newark. The parish church of St Mary Magdalene, just to the north of the market, is built on the scale of a cathedral, with a 252 ft (77 m) soaring spire holding a peal of ten bells.
The river area is dominated by the northwest wall of the ruined Newark Castle, next to which is a splendid seven-arched stone town bridge (also a listed an ancient monument). Just below the castle lies the old Town Wharf and Lock, part of which is currently used as a mooring for pleasure boats. A pleasant park area stretches alongside the river here, with riverside walks and a weir.
During the Civil War Newark was a Royalist stronghold. It was besieged three times by Parliamentary forces between March 1645 and May 1646, following which the destruction of the castle occurred. Anyone interested in the town's Civil War connections should visit the Town Museum, located in the town's very fine Georgian Town Hall, where a large collection of Civil War artifacts can be found.
Tourist Information Centre:
|Keepers Cottage, Riverside Arena, Great N Rd, Newark, Notts, NG24 1BL
Tel: 01636 655765
Only a shell remains of this once magnificent castle, including one intact wall overlooking the river and a large Norman gateway - said to be the finest surviving example of its kind in the country. The first known castle on this site dates from around 1129. The present structure is from 1173, with many additions and alterations made over the centuries. The castle was once the home of King John who died here in October 1216, soon after his disastrous crossing of the Wash where he lost the crown jewels.
The castle was used as a defensive bastion by Royalist forces during the Civil War. When the parliamentary forces eventually took the town in 1646, the townsfolk were forced to dismantle the bulk of castle. In the south tower, steps lead down to a murky dungeon where markings can be seen on the walls made by the guards. Note: The internal areas and dungeons can only accessed on guided tours.
Opening times: castle and grounds open daily 9am until 5/6pm. Free Entry to grounds
Location: Castlegate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1BG, Tel: 01636 655765 Website
Facilities: Parking - across the river (charged), guided tours (charged) must be booked at TIC.
Newark's Town Hall is an outstanding piece of Georgian architecture. Its ballroom is one of the finest public assembly rooms of its period in the country. The museum, located on the first floor, has an interesting historical collection of local finds, including Roman pottery and many Civil War relics, including a hoard of 465 silver coins buried during the Civil War. The art gallery contains paintings, sketches and sculptures by both local and international artists.
Opening times: Mon to Sat, 10.30am to 3.30pm (closed Xmas & BH) Free Entry
Location: Market Square, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1DU - Tel: 01636 680333 Website
Facilities: Lift to first floor. Guided group tours.
Please note that the old Millgate Museum (located by the river) is currently is closed.
Newark Line River Cruises depart from just below Newark Town Lock during the spring and summer months. The boat traverses through the old town lock and cruises upstream past the villages of Farndon, East Stoke and Fiskerton.
Trip times: each weekend Easter to Oct, plus weekdays during peak periods. Admission Charge
Location: Cuckstool Wharf, Castle Gate, Newark, Notts, NG24 1BG - Tel: 01636 706479 Website
Facilities: Drinks and snacks available on-board.
The beautiful towering spire, clearly visible from the market place and all around the town, belongs to the Church of St Mary Magdalene. Construction of the church began in 1160 and wasn't completed until over 300 years later. Yet the length of time taken was certainly worth it as the stonework is richly carved both inside and out. The church has a light and spacious interior with soaring columns and a magnificent 15th-C east window in the chancel and beautiful screen work.
One of the church's most interesting features is a large brass plaque made in Flanders to commemorate Alan Fleming, a rich wool merchant who died in 1375. The brass, which is set into the floor of the north chantry, measures 9ft 4in (2.8m) by 5ft 7in (1.7m), one of the largest of its type in England.
There is also has a fascinating Treasury in a medieval crypt below the Lady Chapel. The Treasury contains much ecclesiastical silver, amongst which is a chalice from 1641 and an 18th-C set of church plate, donated by Lady Frances Leake.
Tours of the Tower, Treasury and Library, can only be made by prior appointment or on heritage open days.
For more information and pictures of Newark see our Newark-on-Trent Town Heritage Tour pages.