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Newark Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Niwerc upon the Fosseway; Niwerca; Newercham

In the civil parish of Newark.
In the historic county of Nottinghamshire.
Modern Authority of Nottinghamshire.
1974 county of Nottinghamshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK79635407
Latitude 53.07760° Longitude -0.81261°

Newark Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle, and also as a certain Palace.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Medieval motte and bailey castle built in about 1130 with much rebuilding and alterations carried out in C13. The gatehouse, part of the curtain wall and a tower are still visible. Excavations of the castle were carried out between 1954-1956 and in 1972. It is suggested the castle stands on the site of an earlier Saxon manorial centre.

Remains of castle. Gatehouse, including chapel and lodging, curtain wall and north west tower built for Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, c1133-1148. South west tower later C12. North west tower and curtain wall remodelled and river front central tower built, probably for Bishop Henry de Burghersh, c1320-1340. Hall undercroft mid C14. Hall altered and river front oriel window added for Bishop Thomas Rotherham, 1471-1480. Gatehouse, hall windows, central and south west towers altered and refenestrated for residence for Earl of Rutland, 1581. Slighted and left as a roofless ruin following siege of 1646. Restored 1845-1848 by A Salvin. Purchased and restored by Newark corporation, 1889. Restored and consolidated by DoE, 1979-1990. Squared dressed stone and ashlar with ashlar dressings. Oblong plan with the south east side demolished. Gatehouse, north west tower, river front, central turret, south west tower, curtain wall, undercroft. Ashlar faced square gatehouse, 3 storeys, has corner pilasters to north east entrance front, and mid C19 buttresses flanking the central gateway. Double-rebated round headed opening with dogtooth on hood mould. Above, two 2-light segment headed windows, late C16, in blocked and altered C12 openings. Above again, similar fenestration with a single 2-light cross mullioned window. South west side has a plain gateway and above it a rectangular opening to the right and above again, a central round headed opening. South east side has a polygonal stair turret with a round headed door at bottom and top. Above, to its left, a late C16 3-light window and above it a similar window, both with four centred arched heads. North east curtain wall has a garderobe chute to right, and above, to left, various broken openings, 2 of them with four centred arches. Polygonal north west tower has a battered plinth and small loops on 2 stages. North west face has a cross mullioned window with panel tracery and above it, a segment headed mullioned window, both restored. Interior has a bottle dungeon and a rectangular dungeon to west, adjoining the undercroft. River front has a central canted turret, 2 stages, with plinth. Single broken opening and above it, a restored 3-light cross mullioned window. Interior has a dungeon reached by a spiral stair. Curtain wall, 3 storeys plus basement, has remains of crenellation to right. To left, 3 unglazed windows, early C14, originally lighting the halls. To their right, a small mullioned window with cusped heads. Above the left window, a 5-light and a 2-light cross mullioned window. To their left, a late C15 2-stage canted oriel window with 3 traceried openings and above, an untraceried segment headed opening. Interior has a traceried vault. To the left of the oriel, a 4-light cross mullioned window with panel tracery and above it, a larger traceried 6-light window by Salvin. Below and to the left of the oriel, a double rebated round headed watergate. To the right, at basement level, a double garderobe chute. Rectangular south west tower, 3 stages, has battered plinth. To north west, single rectangular openings arranged one above another, that next to the top with C20 glazing. South west side has a 2-light mullioned window with a square opening below and a rectangular window above. Inner face has a reconstructed roll-moulded round headed doorway in the return angle, with shafts. Above, south and east faces have doors to the wall walk. East face has a four centred arched double lancet with hood mould. South face has a single C20 door on 2 floors. Consolidated remains of south west curtain wall have brick relieving arches. Early C14 undercroft, 4x2 bays, has octagonal piers without capitals and chamfered ribs to plain pointed barrel vault. In the undercroft, the remains of the doorway to the early C12 chapel. Because of its strategic situation at the crossing of the Trent and the north road, Newark castle has often been used as a staging point on royal journeys and as a rallying point. Built by the Bishop of Lincoln, it was taken into royal hands as early as 1135 by Stephen and restored to the Bishop only in 1218, after John had died there in 1216. Edward II took control of the castle in 1322, and it passed into the hands of Henry VIII in 1547. It was held for Charles I during the Civil War, and besieged in 1644 and 1646. It was also visited by Henry II (1180), Henry VII (1487) and James I (1603). In spite of its importance, the castle is not an outstanding example of fortification, the Trent being its main strength. Its defences were not updated after the early C14, and were allowed to deteriorate from the mid C16. (Listing description)

Ibi quidem construxerat episcopus super flumen Trente in loco amoenissimo vernantissimum florida compositione castellum. There was built, in the bishop's place on the River Trent, the finest Springtime flowery composition of a castle. (Henry of Huntingdon translation by Philip Davis)
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated on Saturday, July 26, 2014

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