Newark-on-Trent or Newark (//) is a market town and civil parish in the Newark and Sherwood district of the county of Nottinghamshire, in the East Midlands of England. It stands on the River Trent, the A1 – on the route of the ancient Great North Road – and the East Coast Main Line railway. The origins of the town are possibly Roman, as it lies on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way. The town grew around Newark Castle, now ruined, and a large market place, now lined with historic buildings. It was a centre for the wool and cloth trades. In the English Civil War, it was besieged by Parliamentary forces and relieved by Royalist forces under Prince Rupert.
Market Square, Newark-on-Trent town centre
Arms of Newark
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The place-name 'Newark' is first attested in the Cartulary of Eynsham Abbey in Oxfordshire, where it appears as Newercha circa 1054-7, and Niweweorche circa 1075-92. It appears as Newerche in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name means 'New work', apparently meaning 'New fort'.
The origins of the town are possibly Roman due to its position on an important Roman road, the Fosse Way. In a document which purports to be a charter of 664, Newark is mentioned as having been granted to the Abbey of Peterborough by King Wulfhere of Mercia. An Anglo-Saxon pagan cemetery, used from the early 5th to the early 7th centuries, has been found in Millgate, in Newark, close to both the Fosse Way and the River Trent in which cremated remains were buried in pottery urns.
In the reign of Edward the Confessor Newark belonged to Godiva and her husband Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who granted it to Stow Minster in 1055. After the Norman Conquest Stow Minster retained the revenues of Newark, but it came under the control of the Norman Bishop Remigius de Fécamp. After his death it changed to, and remained in the hands of, the Bishops of Lincoln from 1092 until the reign of Edward VI. There were burgesses in Newark at the time of the Domesday survey, and in the reign of Edward III, there is evidence that it had long been a borough by prescription. The Newark wapentake in the east of Nottinghamshire was established during the period of Anglo-Saxon rule (10th–11th centuries AD).
Medieval to Stuart period
Newark Castle was originally a Saxon fortified manor house founded by King Edward the Elder. In 1073, Robert Bloet, Bishop of Lincoln, founded an earthwork motte-and-bailey fortress on the site. The river bridge was built about the same time under charter from Henry I, also St Leonard's Hospital. He also gained from the king a charter to hold a five-day fair at the castle each year. He gained a charter under King Stephen to establish a mint in the town. King John died in Newark Castle in 1216.
The town became a local centre for the wool and cloth trade, certainly by the time of Henry II a major market was established. Wednesday and Saturday markets in the town were established during the period 1156–1329, when a series of charters granted to the Bishop of Lincoln made them possible. King John died of dysentery in Newark in 1216. Following his death as Henry III tried to bring order to the country the mercenary Robert de Gaugy refused to yield Newark Castle to the Bishop of Lincoln, its rightful owner, leading to the Dauphin of France (later King Louis VIII of France) laying an eight-day siege on behalf of the king, ended by an agreement to pay the mercenary to leave. Around the time of Edward III's death, and excluding beggars and clergy, in "1377 – Poll tax records show adult population of 1,178 making Newark one of the biggest 25 or so towns in England".
In 1457 a flood swept away the bridge over the Trent, and although there was no legal requirement for anyone to replace it, the Bishop of Lincoln, John Chaworth, financed the building of a new bridge, built of oak with stone defensive towers at either end.
In January 1571 or 1572, the composer Robert Parsons fell into the swollen River Trent at Newark and drowned.
Following the break with Rome in the 16th century, the subsequent establishment of the independent Church of England, and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, Henry VIII had the Vicar of Newark, Henry Lytherland, executed when he refused to acknowledge the king as head of the Church. The dissolution affected Newark's political landscape heavily, and even more radical changes came in 1547 when the Bishop of Lincoln exchanged ownership of the town with the Crown. Newark was incorporated under an alderman and twelve assistants in 1549, and the charter was confirmed and extended by Elizabeth I.
Charles I reincorporated the town under a mayor and aldermen, owing to its increasing commercial prosperity. This charter, except for a temporary surrender under James II, continued to govern the corporation until the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.
The Civil War
During the English Civil War, Newark was a mainstay of the royalist cause, Charles I having raised his standard in nearby Nottingham. "Newark was besieged on three occasions and finally surrendered only when ordered to do so by the King after his own surrender." It was attacked in February 1643 by two troops of horsemen, but beat them back. The town fielded at times as many as 600 soldiers, and raided Nottingham, Grantham, Northampton, Gainsborough, and others with mixed success, but enough to cause it to rise to national notice. At the end of 1644 it was besieged by forces from Nottingham, Lincoln and Derby, the siege was only relieved in March by Prince Rupert.
Parliament commenced a new siege towards the end of January 1645 following more raiding, but this was relieved by Sir Marmaduke Langdale after about a month. Newark cavalry fought with the king's forces which were decisively defeated in the Battle of Naseby, near Leicester in June 1645.
The final siege began in November 1645, by which time the town's defences had been greatly strengthened. Two major forts had been constructed just outside the town, one, called the Queen's Sconce, to the south-west and another, the King's Sconce to the north-east, both close to the river, together with defensive walls and a water filled ditch 2¼ miles in length, around the town. In May 1646 the town was ordered to surrender by Charles I, which was still only accepted under protest by the town's garrison. After the surrender much of the defences were destroyed, including the castle which was left in essentially the state it can be seen today. Queen's Sconce was left largely untouched and its remains are in Sconce and Devon Park.
Georgian era and early 19th century
Around 1770 the Great North Road around Newark (now the A1) was raised on a long series of arches to ensure it remained clear of the regular floods it experienced. A special Act of Parliament in 1773 allowed the creation of a town hall next to the Market Place. Designed by John Carr of York and completed in 1776, Newark Town Hall is now a Grade I listed building. In 1775 the Duke of Newcastle, at the time the Lord of the Manor and a major landowner of the area, built a new brick bridge with stone facing to replace the dilapidated one next to the castle. This is still one of the major thoroughfares in the town today.
A noted advocate of reform in the late 18th century at Newark was the local-born printer and newspaper owner Daniel Holt (1766–1799). He was imprisoned for printing a leaflet advocating parliamentary reform and selling a Thomas Paine pamphlet.
In the milieu of parliamentary reform the duke of Newcastle evicted over a hundred tenants at Newark who he believed supported directly or indirectly the Liberal/Radical candidate (Wilde) rather than his candidate (Michael Sadler, a progressive Conservative)at the 1829 elections. See the report in Cornelius BROWN 1907, ii, 243 following; and the report in the Times for 7 October 1829. A report in the Times of 10 September 1832 lists ten of the evicted people by name and address.
J. S. Baxter, who was a schoolboy in Newark in 1830–40, contributed to The Hungry Forties: Life under the Bread Tax (London, 1904), a book about the Corn Laws: "Chartists and rioters came from Nottingham into Newark, parading the streets with penny loaves dripped in blood carried on pikes, crying 'Bread or blood'."
During the Victorian era a lot of new buildings and industry were established, such as the Independent Chapel (1822), Holy Trinity (1836–37), Christ Church (1837), Castle Railway Station (1846), Wesleyan Chapel (1846), the Corn Exchange (1848), the Methodist New Connexion Chapel (1848), W. N. Nicholson Trent Ironworks (1840s), Northgate Railway Station (1851), North End Wesleyan Chapel (1868), St Leonard's Anglican Church (1873), the Baptist Chapel (1876), the Primitive Methodist Chapel (1878), Newark Hospital (1881), Ossington Coffee Palace (1882), Gilstrap Free Library (1883), the Market Hall (1884), Unitarian Chapel (1884), the Fire Station (1889), Waterworks (1898) and the School of Science and Art (1900). These changes and other industrial expansion that went with them increased the population from under 7,000 in 1800 to over 15,000 by the end of the 19th century. The Sherwood Avenue Drill Hall followed in 1914, just in time for the First World War.
During the Second World War there were a number of RAF stations within a few miles of Newark, from many of which operated squadrons of the Polish Air Force. A special plot was set aside in Newark Cemetery for RAF burials and this is now the war graves plot, where all but ten of the 90 Commonwealth and all of the 397 Polish burials were made. The cemetery also contains 49 scattered burials from the First World War. A memorial cross to the Polish airmen buried here was erected in the plot and was unveiled in 1941 by President Raczkiewicz, ex-President of the Polish Republic and head of the wartime Polish Government in London, supported by General Sikorski, head of the Polish Armed Forces and wartime Polish Prime Minister. When both men subsequently died, General Sikorski in 1943 and President Raczkiewicz in 1947, they were buried at the foot of the memorial. General Sikorski's remains were returned to Poland in 1993, but there is still a memorial to him at Newark.
The manufacture of clothing, bearings, pumps, agricultural machinery and pine furniture, and the refining of sugar, have been the prime industries in Newark in the last 100 years. British Sugar still has one of its sugar-beet processing factories to the north of the town near the A616 (Great North Road). There have been several factory closures, especially since the 1950s. Breweries in the town closed in the 20th century included James Hole and Warwicks-and-Richardsons.
The estimated population for Newark parish in 2007 was 26,330, increasing to 27,700 at the 2011 census. According to the 2001 census, it had a population of 25,376. The ONS Mid Year Population Estimates for 2007 indicate that the population had then increased to around 26,700. "The population of Newark is approximately 35,000 and the rural area of Newark and Sherwood to the west of the town has an additional population of 75,000 in the small towns of Southwell and Ollerton and the numerous villages of the district."
Newark is 93 per cent white British, according to the 2011 census. It is also prosperous: 77 per cent of people are employed, according to the latest ONS data, compared with a national average of 72 per cent. Earnings are 7 per cent above those in the surrounding East Midlands.
Newark lies on the River Trent, with the River Devon also running through the town. Standing at the intersection of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way, Newark originally grew around Newark Castle – now ruined – and a large market place – now lined with historic buildings.
Newark's growth and development have both been enhanced by its possession of one of the few bridges over the River Trent, the navigability of the river, the presence of the Great North Road (the A1, etc.), and later the advance of the railways, bringing a junction between the East Coast Main Line and the route from Nottingham to Lincoln. "Newark became a substantial inland port, particularly for the wool trade," though it industrialised to some extent during the Victorian era, and later with an ironworks, engineering, brewing, and a sugar refinery.
Newark returned two representatives to the Unreformed House of Commons from 1673. It was the last borough to be created before the Reform Act. William Ewart Gladstone, later Prime Minister, was MP for Newark in 1832, and re-elected in 1835, 1837 and 1841 (twice), but possibly due to his support of the repeal of the Corn Laws and other issues he stood elsewhere after that time.
Recently, Newark elections have been central to two interesting legal cases. In 1945, a challenge to Harold Laski, the Chairman of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, led Laski to sue the Daily Express when it reported him as saying that Labour might take power through violence if defeated at the polls. Laski vehemently denied saying this but lost the libel action. In the 1997 general election, Newark returned Fiona Jones of the Labour Party. Jones and her election agent Des Whicher were convicted of submitting a fraudulent declaration of expenses, but the conviction was overturned on appeal.
Newark's former MP is Patrick Mercer, Conservative. Mercer held the position of Shadow Minister for Homeland Security from June 2003 until March 2007, when he was forced to resign following racially contentious comments made to The Times.
Following a by-election on 5 June 2014, brought about by the resignation of former MP Patrick Mercer, Conservative Robert Jenrick was elected as the new Member of Parliament for Newark and re-elected at the General Election on 7 May 2015.
Newark has three tiers of local government – Newark Town Council, Newark & Sherwood District Council and [Nottinghamshire County Council]. Thirty-nine Newark and Sherwood district councillors are responsible for services such as waste, planning, environmental health, licensing, car parks, housing, leisure and culture. The District Council opened a new national Civil War Centre and Newark Museum in May 2015. Ten county councillors are elected to Nottinghamshire County Council to represent the Newark & Sherwood area. Nottinghamshire County Council provides Children's services, Adult Care and Highways and transport services. The town has a locally elected council of eighteen members from four wards. Newark Town Council has taken on some responsibilities devolved by Newark & Sherwood District Council including local parks, open spaces and Newark Market. It is also responsible for local events such as the LocAle & Weinfest, as well as looking after a small museum in the Town Hall, and the allotments.
Newark's new police station opened in October 2006.
British Sugar PLC runs a major factory on the outskirts of the town and began operating in 1921. It employs 130 permanent staff. The factory processes 1.6 million tonnes of sugar beet produced by about 800 UK growers, at an average distance of 28 miles from the factory. Of the output, 250,000 tonnes of sugar is processed and supplied to food and drink manufacturers in the UK and across Europe. At the heart of the Newark factory's operations is the combined heat and power (CHP) plant. With boilers fired on natural gas, it produces the site’s steam and electricity requirement. Enough electricity to power 800 homes can be exported into the local electrical grid. The installation is rated under the government CHP environmental quality assurance scheme.
Another employer in the town is a bearings factory (part of the NSK group) with around 200 employees. A further notable employer is Laurens Patisseries, part of the food group Bakkavör since May 2006, when it was bought for £130m. It employs over 1,000 people. In 2007, Currys opened their £30m national distribution centre next to the A17 near the A46 roundabout, and Dixon's moved its national distribution centre there in 2005, with over 1,400 staff employed at the site during peak times. Flowserve, formerly Ingersoll Dresser Pumps, have a manufacturing facility in the town. Project Telecom on Brunel Drive was bought by Vodafone in 2003 for a reported £163m. Since 1985 Newark has been host to the biggest antiques fair in Europe, the Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair, held bi-monthly at Newark Showground. Newark has plentiful antique shops and centres.
The town is home to many people who commute to the city of Nottingham (around 20 miles (32 km) away) and to London and other cities such as Leicester, Leeds, Doncaster and York. Newark is home of Newark Rugby Union Football Club, which has produced past players such as Dusty Hare, John Wells, Greig Tonks and Tom Ryder. The town has a leisure centre on Bowbridge Road, opened in 2016.
The Palace Theatre in Appletongate is Newark's main entertainment venue, offering drama, live music, dance and film.
The National Civil War Centre and Newark Museum is adjacent to the Palace Theatre on Appletongate in the town centre. It was opened in 2015 to interpret Newark's part in the English Civil War in the seventeenth century and to explore the wider implications of this important period of the nation's history.
Landmarks and treasures
- The Market Place is the focal point of the town. The Queen's Head is an old pub.
- The Church of St. Mary Magdalene is a Grade I listed building, notable for the tower and the octagonal spire (236 feet (72 m) high), the tallest in the county. It was heavily restored in the mid-19th century by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The reredos was added by Sir Ninian Comper.
- Newark Castle was built alongside the Trent by Alexander of Lincoln, the Bishop of Lincoln in 1123, who established it as a mint. Of the original Norman stronghold the most important remains are the gate-house, a crypt and the tower at the south-west angle. King John died at this castle on the night of 18 October 1216. In the reign of Edward III it was used as a state prison. During the English Civil War it was garrisoned for Charles I, and endured three sieges. Its dismantling was begun in 1646, immediately after the surrender of the king.
- The 16th-century Governor's House, named after Sir Richard Willis, Governor of Newark Castle at the time of the English Civil War, is in Stodman Street. Now a bread shop and cafe, it is also a Grade I listed building.
The Newark Torc, a major silver and gold Iron Age torc, the first found in Nottinghamshire and very similar to those of the Snettisham Hoard, was uncovered in 2005 in what is now a field on the outskirts of Newark, and in 2008 was acquired by Newark and Sherwood District Council. The Torc was displayed at the British Museum in London until the opening of the National Civil War Centre and Newark Museum in May 2015. It can now be viewed in the Museum galleries.
Churches and other religious sites
There are several churches in Newark, including the Grade I listed parish church, St Mary Magdalene. Other Church of England churches include Christ Church in Boundary Road and St Leonard's in Lincoln Road. The Catholic Holy Trinity Church was consecrated in 1979. Other churches include the Baptist Church on Albert Street, and the Church of Promise, founded in 2007.
In 2014 the Newark Odinist Temple, a Grade II listed building on Bede House Lane, was consecrated according to the rites of the Odinist Fellowship, making this the first heathen Temple operating in England in modern times.
Newark has two railway stations linked to the national network. The East Coast Main Line runs through Newark North Gate railway station providing links to London, Leeds, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh and is served by London North Eastern Railway. Newark Castle railway station lies on the Leicester–Nottingham–Lincoln line, providing cross-country regional links. The two lines cross on the level, at the last flat crossing in Britain. A grade separation has been proposed by Network Rail.
There are several main roads around Newark. The A1 and A46 roads have bypasses around Newark. The A17 runs east from Newark to King's Lynn in Norfolk, and the A616 runs north from Newark to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire. The town is served by several bus companies, including Stagecoach in Lincolnshire (branded as "Newark busabouttown"), Marshalls and Travel Wright, under the governance of Nottinghamshire County Council,
The community station Radio Newark began broadcasting on 107.8 FM in May 2015, after three successful trials in 2014 and 2015. The station replaces the town's former community station, Boundary Sound, which ceased broadcasting in 2011.
- George Allen (1832–1907) – engraver and publisher, born in Newark
- John Barnard (died 1683) – biographer and religious writer, died in Newark
- Cornelius Brown (1852–1907) – journalist and historian, Newark Advertiser
- Henry Constable (1562–1613) – poet (early sonneteer), born in Newark
- Winifred Gales (1761–1839) – novelist and memoirist
- T. W. Robertson (1829–1871) – playwright
Politics and government
- Richard Alexander (1934–2008) – Conservative politician
- William Robert Bousfield (1854–1943) – Conservative politician, lawyer and psychologist, born in Newark
- Sir Bryce Chudleigh Burt (1881–1943) – administrator in the British Raj, born in Newark
- John Cartwright (1740–1824) – politician and preacher, attended Newark Grammar School.
- Robert Constable (1522–1591) – parliamentarian and soldier
- Robert Heron (1765–1854) – Whig politician
- Robert Jenrick (born 1982) – Conservative politician, MP for Newark since June 2014
- King John of England (1166–1216) – died in Newark
- Fiona Jones (1957–2007) – Labour politician, MP for Newark.
- Patrick Mercer (born 1956) – Conservative politician, MP for Newark, 2001–14
- Arthur Richardson (1860–1936) – Liberal/Labour politician who had attended Magnus Grammar School
- Alexander of Lincoln (died 1148) – Bishop of Lincoln, who founded a hospital for lepers in Newark
- Annette Cooper (born 1953) – Anglican Archdeacon of Colchester, educated at Lilley and Stone Girls' High School in Newark
- John Burdett Wittenoom (1788–1855) – pioneer cleric and headmaster in Swan River Colony, Australia, born in Newark
Science and technology
- John Arderne (1307–1392) – notable surgeon, lived in Newark in early life
- Basil Baily (1869–1942) – architect
- Francis Clater (1756–1823) – farrier and veterinary writer
- Godfrey Hounsfield (1919–2004) – electrical engineer, Nobel Laureate in medicine, inventor of the CT scanner
- Rupert Sheldrake (born 1942) – biochemist and parapsychology researcher born in Newark
- Giovanni Francisco Vigani (c. 1650–1712) – chemist from Verona who first settled in Newark in 1682
- Frederick Smeeton Williams (1829–1886) – writer on railways
- Willie Hall (1912–1967) – Notts County, Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer who scored the fastest international hat trick ever (4 minutes against Northern Ireland, 16 November 1938)
- Steve Baines (born 1954) – League footballer and referee
- Phil Crampton (born 1970) - Professional alpinist and high altitude mountaineer
- Craig Dudley (born 1979) – professional association footballer
- Harry Hall (born 1893 – death date unknown) – professional association footballer
- Dusty Hare (born 1952) – rugby union international
- Phil Joslin (born 1959) – League football referee
- Mary King (born Thomson, 1961) – Olympic equestrian sportswoman
- Sam McMahon (born 1976) – professional association footballer
- Shane Nicholson (born 1970) – League footballer
- Henry Slater (1839–1905) – first-class cricketer born in Newark
- Mark Smalley (born 1965) – professional association footballer born in Newark
- William Streets (born 1772, fl. 1792–1803) – cricketer
Since 1984 Newark has been twinned with:
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This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Newark, a market town and municipal borough in the Newark parliamentary division of Nottinghamshire, England". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Newark (England).|
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Newark-on-Trent.|