White's Directory of Nottinghamshire, 1853


Newark-Upon-Trent is an ancient and well-built market town, borough and parish, pleasantly situated in the middle of a fertile district, at the junction of the Great North Road with the turnpikes from Lincoln, Nottingham, Sheffield &c., and on the lines of the Great Northern and Midland Railways, both of which have neat and convenient stations. It is 124 miles north by west of London, 8 miles east of Southwell, 21 miles north-east by east of Nottingham, 20 miles south-south-wast of Retford, and 16 miles south-west of Lincoln, and is the capital of the hundred and deanery to which it gives name. In 1851 it contained 11,330 inhabitants and 2,080 acres of land.

The trade of the town consists principally in making malt, ale, flour, linen and smock frocks, to a considerable extent. There are in the town and neighbourhood several breweries, 20 corn mills, and a considerable number of malt kilns, and an extensive linen manufactory (Hawton Mills), where fine linen is bleached after the irish manner. The malt made in 1851 amounted to 88,065 quarters.

Newark derives much of its prosperity from being a public thoroughfare, its well supplied market and fairs, and from its participation in the traffic on the Great Northern and Midland Companys' Railways, and Trent Navigation. The market is held on Wednesday, and is well supplied with corn, meat, butter, vegetables, fruit &c., and once a fortnight with cattle. Six fairs are held here normally: on Friday before Careing Sunday (the Sunday before Palm Sunday), May 14th, Whit Tuesday, August 2nd, November 1st and monday before December 11th, for horses, cattle, sheep, swine &c. A large cheese market was established in 1804, and continues to be held on the Wednesday before October 2nd.

The Market Place is a spacious area, lined with good buildings, which on the south side have a long piazza under the second floors. On the western side stands the elegant Town Hall, which was erected by the Corporation out of the produce of testamentary estates, for the improvement of the town, which they were empowered to sell under an Act of Parliament, passed in the 13th year of George III. The total expenses of the erection was £1,790. Two wings have since been added. The front is light and airy. It is three storeys high, having seven windows in each storey. The room used for assemblies is elegantly finished woth Corinthian columns and pilasters, and a richly carved ceiling. At one end of the edifice the Sessions are held, and at the other the Corporation transact public business. In the rear are very extensive shambles. The principal entrance into the Market Place are Stodman Street, Bridge Street and Church Street.

The Corn Exchange, Castlegate, was opened September 1848. The length of the interior is 83 feet, and it is 32 feet wide. The floor is several feet above the level of the street, thus affording space below for a suite of rooms, which are in reality on the ground floor. Upon entering the exchange the visitor is struck with the admirable manner in which the greatest possible quantity of light is conveyed from the roof, which is obtained by three lights of unpolished plate glass, extending the full length of the hall. The style of the building is Italian. The composition is of great simplicity in its arrangements, having three arched recessed doorways of entrance on a large scale, which give light and shade and practical effect. These are enriched with appropriate designs, each division having lunettes decorated with shells, with corn springing from the centre. In the spandrils of the archways, between the doors, are shields charged with sheaves of corn. The capitals of the pillows are expressly designed to illustrate the purposes of the building, and the capitals of the pillows in the interior correspond with those of the exterior, consisting of ears of corn. The centre of the front is surmounted by a clock tower, and the turret is flanked by two figures, each seven feet high, representing Agriculture and Commerce. The entire cost of the building was upwards of £6,000 raised by a number of shareholders. There is a comfortable house attached, in which Mr John Webster Stevenson resides, who has the charge of the building.

The Cattle Market, situated within the precincts of the Castle, is a spacious area of about 70 yards square, encompassed with a brick wall, with three iron gates. It is the property of John Handley Esq. The market for fat cattle is held every other Tuesday.

The other principal streets are Appletongate, Bladertongate, Barnbygate, Cartergate, Castlegate, Kirkgate, Lombard Street, Middlegate, Millgate, Northgate and Wilson Street, in which there still remain many ancient houses, except in the last, which was built on a uniform plan in 1766 by the Rev. Dr. Wilson. the streets of a more modern date are Pelham Street, Portland Street, Guildhall Street, and some others. An Act of Parliament for paving the town was passed as early as 1585, but it seems almost to have been a dead letter till 1798, when it was strengthened by another Act, under which the work of paving, lighting, cleansing &c. has been extended to every street and thoroughfare. There was anciently a cross in the Market Place, but the only one now in the town is Beamond Cross, at the junction of Cartergate and Lombard Street which, an inscription says, was erected in the reign of Edward IV, repaired by Charles Mellish Esq., recorder, in 1778, and again repaired and beautified by the Corporation in 1801. In 1806 an Act was obtained for more effectually repairing the roads from Newark to Mansfield and Southwell, and to Leadenham Hill in Lincolnshire.

Newark is not upon the Trent, but upon the River Devon which, after receiving the Smite and the Car-dike, communicates with a short cut from the Trent, and passing under the majestic ruins of the castle, pursues a north-easterly course to that river at Crankleys, near Winthorpe, so that the two streams form on the north-west of the town a large elliptical island of low but fertile pasture land, which they so frequently inundate, that about the year 1770 it was found necessary to connect the two bridges by a flood road, which cost £12,000, and now bids defiance to the highest floods. The bridge at the Newark end of this elevated road is a substantial fabric of seven arches, erected in 1775 by the Duke of Newcastle. In 1850, the stone wall was taken down and the bridge widened about 4 yards, making a footpath of 2 yards wide on each side, and a substantial palisade put up in place of the wall. The bridge which crosses the Trent at Kelham, about two miles from Newark, was rebuilt in 1851 at a cost of £3,000. The Haling Path bridge, which crosses the Devon near the large water mill, consists of 5 segmental arches, each 14 feet span, and was built in 1819 by the Newark Navigation Company who, in 1772, obtained an Act of Parliament for widening and improving the stream, which by a circuitous course of four miles, now brings the Trent navigation past the walls of Newark. Anciently three narrow and inconvenient wooden bridges occupied the sites of these durable structures of brick and stone.

Newark Castle

The Castle, though now in ruins, still presents an august appearance. The north front, overlooking the river, is the most perfect, having a large square tower at the north-east angle, and another in the centre. The general outline of the building is square, and its dimensions very great. The nuber of storeys appears to have been five, but within the exterior walls very little now remains. In 1845, Public Baths were established by eighty £5 shareholders, of which Mr James Taylor is superintendent, and a part is made into a convenient cattle market.

The vestiges of the great hall show evidently that it was built in later times. Indeed, its handsome projecting window must have been inserted after all the ancient modes of defence had gone out of use. Under this hall is a most curious arched vault or crypt, supported by a row of pillars in the middle, and having loops and embrasures towards the river, in which were planted cannons in the civil wars. At one end are some remains of the entrance to a subterranean passage, said to have gone a great way under ground.

The other parts of the ruins exhibit a curious specimen of the odd mixture of old Norman architecture, and of that which Bishop Gundulph first introduced at Rochester Castle. The Castle and its Liberty (1,138 acres) are in the parish of East Stoke, which is distant more than four miles from newark, but their inhabitans vote at elections for members of parliament, as belonging to the borough, though they have no voice in the choice of church-wardens or other parochial officers.

The wall and gates, which formerly enclosed the town, have entirely disappeared, though two of the archways, viz. North Gate and East Gate, were standing in the latter part of the last century, the former being removed in 1762 and the latter in 1784. The vicinity of Newark was much cut up by military works in the civil wars, many traces of which still remain. Since the reigns of the Charleses, Newark has displayed its loyalty and patriotism by the formation of a troop of Yeomanry Cavalry in 1794, under the command of Captain Chaplin, and a regiment of Volunteers in 1804, under the command of Lieut. Col. Thoroton. The castle precincts is included in the borough of Newark, and still belongs to the crown.

Newark - Ancient History

Various antiquarian conjectures have been hazarded respecting the origin of Newark, the most plausible of which is that is occupies the site of the Roman station Eltavona, which was subsequently enlarged by the Saxons from the ruins of several Roman cities in the neighbourhood, on or near the Roman Fosseway, which passes through the town from Leicester toLincoln. After this re-edification, it is supposed to have been the Saxon Sidnoceaster, which in the early days of Christianity was a bishopric, heving had a succession of nine bishops after the year AD 678, but some historians have placed that city at Stowe, in Lincolnshire. It is, however, certain that Newark, during the Saxon heptarchy, was an important town, defended by a strong wall and fortress, and constructed partly of Roman materials.

After being destroyed by the Daness it was rebuilt, and hence New-wark (now corrupted to Newark) was justly applied to it in the reign of Edward the Confessor. The Domesday survey shows that the Countess Godiva had paid the Dane geld for her manor of Newark, and its two bernes, Baldertune and Farendune as 7 carucates and 2 bovates of land, which in the Confessor's time had been returned as 26 carucates. In 1086, Remigius, Bishop of Lincoln, had in demesne here 7 carucates, 36 burgesses, 42 villains and 4 bordars, having 21½ carucates. The manor had soc in nearly all the parishes which now form the hundred and deanery of Newark. It was given by Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and his Countess Godiva to the monastery of Stowe, and was afterwards claimed by the bishops of Lincoln, one of whom, Alexander de Blois, built the present castle, in the reign of Stephen. Military erections were, however, even at that time deemed rather improper for an ecclesiastic to engage in, and to satisfy his troubled conscience the bishop, after finishing the castle, founded two monasteries. But Stephen was not to be thus appeased, for he seized both the bishop and his uncle, and kept them in durance until they surrendered to him all their fortresses.

In the reign of John, and in the baronial wars, Newark several times changed hands, and it was the scene of that monarch's death, but whether by poison or otherwise has not been clearly ascertained. Henry III restored the castle to the bishop of Lincoln. In 1530, Cardinal Wolsey lodged in it with a great retinue, on his way to Southwell, where he was accustomed to spend part of the summer. James I was at Newark in 1602, and was addressed by the senior alderman (there being then no mayor), My John Twentyman, in a long Latin speech, with which his Majesty was so well pleased that he ordered him to repeat it, then asked his name and, on being told, replied sharply, £then by my soul man thou art a traytor, the Twentymans pulled down Redkirk, in Scotland". This, however, was merely in jest, as he confirmed on him many favours, and was often accompanied by him in his hunting excursions in the forest.

During the civil wars of Charles I, Newark was an important garrison in the cause of Royalty, in which the courageous inhabitants sustained three violent sieges, at the first of which Sir John Henderson, the governor, caused all North Gate and the Spital to be burned, yet the remains formed a receptacle for the enemy at the second siege until they were routed by Prince Rupert on Beacon Hill. Much gallantry was displayed during the third siege in 1645, and much blood was spilt on both sides, but the town was at length given up to the Scotch army, by the King's orders. After the surrender, the country people were ordered to come with pick axes, shovels &c., to demolish all the works and circumvallation, but one of the sconces has been left entire.

The Borough was first incorporated by Edward VI, under whose charter it was governed by an alderman and 12 assistants. It sent only one member to parliament until it received a new charter from Charles I, instituting a body corporate, by the name of the Mayor and Aldermen of Newark upon Trent, with a learned man to be Recorder. The same monarch also honoured the town by creating Robert Pierrepont Baron Pierrepont and Viscount of Newark.

The Castle, though now in ruins, still presents an august appearance

Newark Hundred

The Hundred of Newark is a long, narrow, and irregularly formed district, forming the east side of the county, extending 17 miles in length in the vale of the Trent, from East Stoke, northward to North Clifton, where it borders upon Lincolnshire, which county bounds it on the east. The reiver Trent forms the west boundary, and the hundred of Bingham the south, having the South Clay division of the Bassetlaw hundred at the north extremity, and the Thurgarton hundred at the south extremity, on the western side of the Trent. The average breadth is not more than four miles.

It is a fine agricultural district. The vale is noted for its excellent feeding land, particularly the large island formed by the two branches of the Trent near Newark. A rich clay or loam prevails in the higher parts to the eastern verge. Beacon Hill, near Newark, is noted for its prolific beds of gypsum. It is divided into the North and South Divisions, with a chief constable, and forms ecclesiastically the Deanery of Newark. The population has been considerably increased during the last fifty years, though it is chiefly dependent upon agriculture, and its extensive trade in malt and flour. In 1851 it contained 20,322 souls, and 44,409 acres of land.

The North Division comprises 10 parishes, 3 townships and 2 chapelries, namely:

Newark, Clifton North, Clifton South,Harby chapelry, Spalford township, Collingham (North and South), Girton, Langford, South Scarle, Besthorpe chapelry, Thorney, Broadholme township, Wigsley township and Winthorpe - 15,709 inhabitants and 21,670 acres of land.

The South Division comprises 13 parishes, 1 township and 2 chapelries, namely:

Balderton, Barnby-in-the-Willows, Coddington, Cotham, East Stoke, Elston chapelry, Farndon, Hawton, Kilvington, Alverton township, Shelton, Sibthorpe, Staunton, Flawborough chapelry, Syerston, and Thorpe by Newark - 4,613 inhabitants and 22,739 acres of land.

[Transcribed by Clive Henly]