Newark on Trent in Nottinghamshire is a historic town on the beautiful River Trent, a scenic place for walking beside the river, or for discovering a Castle with history to explore.
Newark castle was founded in the mid-12th century by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln. Built in timber originally, the castle was later rebuilt in stone towards the end of the century.
English Civil War
In the 17th century, the castle was dismantled after the English Civil War, and was restored again in the 19th century, first by Anthony Salvin in the 1840s and later by the corporation of Newark who bought the site in 1889.
Today though a ruin is still a remarkable sight to see and a pleasure to walk through the gardens.
Personal experience at Newark castle
We were out for a leisurely drive around and without real thought of where to visit the idea to visit Newark castle became an idea since it wouldn’t be far to travel, we were only driving a short distance from Nottingham, and we hadn’t been to Newark on Trent for quite some time.
We easily found parking nearby in a car park next to the river at the short stay, Town Wharf car park. The castle was in sight already and just a short walk across the road from us the entrance gate is on the corner of the street.
The weather couldn’t have been better with blue skies and scattered clouds, just perfect for a walk around to discover the history of Newark castle on a day trip.
As soon as we entered through the gates, the castle ruins immediately dominate the view and take the eye.
It’s a stunning structure and I would imagine it would have quite the look of power and authority back in historic times. We live a little closer to Nottingham castle, which would have been a royal castle originally and is now a museum and gallery.
Another Nottinghamshire attraction I can highly recommend visiting.
Being next to the River Trent would have been very useful I would have thought, almost like having a moat to one side of it.
I’d imagine this would have made defence to the river side a little easier. It certainly makes the castle feel more of a powerful icon against its surroundings.
Riverside Curtain Wall
The riverside curtain wall would have made the halls much lighter with the larger windows along this section, which was made safer by the protection offered by the river on this side of the castle.
The halls would have been used for many purposes including entertaining guests and banqueting as well as a place where Bishop Alexander would hold court, the accused would have been transported from the two prisons cells in the central tower.
Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln
In a charter that’s thought to date to 1135, King Henry I granted the Bishop of Lincoln permission to build a castle.
The charter reads; ‘Henry, King of England to all the Barons and to the Sheriffs and to his ministers and faithful men of Nottinghamshire, Greeting. Know ye, that I have granted to Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, that he may make a ditch and rampart of his fishpond of Niwerc upon the Fosseway and he may divert the Fosseway through the same town as he shall wish.
Alexander also established a mint at the castle during the earlier part of the castle’s existence. King John died after a feast at this castle on the night of 18 October 1216 from dysentery, according to tradition from eating a “surfeit of peaches”.
So as a personal thought, I see something to be learned here, everything in moderation.
Newark castle is now a grade I listed building, (first listed in 1950) and a scheduled ancient monument which is of national historical importance and an archaeological site.
We are very lucky to be able to visit and learn more about Nottinghamshire and English heritage and wander freely through the beautifully kept gardens free of charge.
The castle was slighted in 1648 and left derelict. Between 1845 and 1848 architect Anthony Salvin restored the castle, and in 1889 the corporation of Newark purchased the building and carried out further restoration work.
Newark Castle gatehouse
The castle gatehouse was part of Bishop Alexander’s original castle built as a grand entrance to impress visitors and the bishop’s quarters were also found here with a private reception area, bedroom, a chapel and private toilet too.
The private entrance would have been reached by a bridge across a moat and it’s thought there would have also been an outer rampart of earthen bank. It’s believed the moat became stilted up by the early 17th century and was re-cut in an effort to protect the castle during the sieges of the civil war.
Visitors would have gained access to the castle by passing under the gatehouse arch where there would have been a guard manning the heavy gate there.
There were originally 3 larger windows above the gatehouse in the 12th century which were replaced with Tudor ones in 1580 but look closer and you will see the outline where the 12th century windows would have been.
I’ve found the area absolutely fascinating and I’m definitely going back to explore much more of Newark on Trent, the delightful old historical buildings throughout the town are worth a visit in their own right, there are plenty of lovely eateries, bars and pubs to choose from and of course the wonderful river Trent, one of my favourite rivers to walk beside in Nottinghamshire is always relaxing and enjoyable.
A memorable visit to a lovely place steeped in history nestled beside a beautiful river, what’s not to like. I can feel a riverside wander happening on my next visit too and maybe some refreshments.
Opening times and cost of entry
Newark castle and grounds are open from 8.30 am until dusk every day. There is no charge to visit the castle or walk around the grounds. Free entry at an historic site is quite rare, most will require a ticket, so it is a great opportunity to experience Newark castle in Nottinghamshire without charge. There are toilet facilities on site, they cost 20p. The cost helps with the upkeep the facility. There are guided tours available and scheduled events through the year. Buying tickets for any of the music events or for Newark Festival can be purchased from other sources online.
The address for the castle is, Castle Gate, Newark NG24 1BG
Town Wharf car park (short stay) – NG24 1EU With 56 car parking spaces, 4 Disabled parking spaces, with 3 hours free parking when displaying a blue badge. There are no height restrictions.
Riverside car park (Long Stay) – NG24 1BZ there are 208 car parking spaces, of which 11 are disabled parking spaces.
There are 8 x Fast charging points for electric cars and charging hours are 8am to 6pm, Monday to Sunday. There is a height restriction of 7ft 6in and vehicles must be able to park within a parking bay.
The opening times are 6.30am to 7.30pm
Newark also has car park facilities elsewhere and details can be found at Newark and Sherwood District Council.