The following is a guest post.
Newark in Nottinghamshire is probably lesser known than its New Jersey counterpart. However, Newark-on-Trent is by far the older cousin and dates back to Roman times, with a medieval heyday , as I was pleasantly surprised to see when passing through recently.
As you arrive past the Castle Railway station (opened in 1846), you see the ruins of a once magnificent castle. Its transformation from a manor house towards a castle began in the year 1073 under the management of the Bishop of Lincoln. In the early 12th century the wonderfully named Bishop Alexander the Magnificent felt it was time for a bit of a rebuild.
During this century the town’s market started to take off, becoming known as a centre of woollen and cloth trading, The Castle was a Royalist stronghold (boo!) during the English Civil War and there are current day tours that show you the town’s part in that long ago period of English history. Another royal connection is in 1216 when King John died of dysentery in the town.
The Medieval Market Square is intact today, and although modern commerce spoils it a little it remains far better looking than most British town centres. Some truly wonderful medieval architecture remains, and if you look above the 21st century shop fronts you feel transported back in time.
I was amazed at vastness of the square considering Newark is not an especially large place. The square rivals many of those in England’s largest cities. Although, with a little research , you discover that in 1377 Newark was one of the top 25 most populous cities in the country, with 1,178 people calling it their home.
Newark Town Hall
There are pubs and restaurants in ancient buildings to refresh you (maybe you will try out the Old Bakery Tearooms) and the Grade I listed 1775 Town Hall is another imposing building. The town really is worth a day of anyone’s time.
The Corn Exchange
A walk around the square, especially when the shops are closed, is a rather humbling experience, walking through hundreds of years of history in the footsteps of thousands of ordinary townsfolk who must have traded, laughed, loved and lost. Such thoughts raced through my mind as I ambled across the cobbles. Before you head to Newark you should consult the guide to Newark’s Medieval Timber Frames Buildings Trail .
The castle ruins sit on the banks of the mighty 185 mile long River Trent. Newark also has the smaller River Devon running through it, and a lovely riverside walk or two beckon when you are there.
Castle ruins on the River Trent
Once you are done with exploring the town you might want to rest up overnight in a bed and breakfast, before you tackle one of Europe’s largest antiques and collectors’ fairs. These are held at the Newark Showground just out of town every other month and are even featured in the book, “1000 places to see before you die”.
And finally, talking of death, there is a memorial to the Polish Air Force in Newark Cemetery dedicated to almost 400 Poles who lost their lives in World War II.
Chrissy is a Londoner who lives in Manchester. She is a freelance writer who blogs about her adopted home city at Mancunian Wave- glimpses of Greater Manchester, a photo a day: Mancunianwave Read her guest posts here.