1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Newark (Nottinghamshire)

NEWARK (Newark-upon-Trent), a market town and municipal borough in the Newark parliamentary division of Nottinghamshire, England. Pop. (1901) 14,992. It lies in a flat, fertile lowland near the junction of the river Devon with the Trent, but actually on the Devon. By means of a canal 1½ m. in length it is connected with the Trent navigation. It is 120 m. N.N.W. from London by the Great Northern railway, and is on the Melton Mowbray joint branch of that company and the London & North-Western, and on the Nottingham & Lincoln branch of the Midland railway. The church of St Mary Magdalene, one of the largest and finest parish churches of England, is specially notable for the beauty of the tower and of the octagonal spire (223 ft. high) by which it is surmounted. The central piers of the old church, dating from the 11th or 12th century, remain, and the lower part of the tower is a fine example of Early English when at its best. The upper parts of the tower and spire are Decorated, completed about 1350; the nave dates from between 1384 and 1393, and the chancel from 1489. The sanctuary is bounded on the south and north by two chantry chapels, the former of which has on one of its panels a remarkable painting from the “Dance of Death.” There are a few old monuments, and an exceedingly fine brass of the 14th century. The castle, supposed to have been founded by Egbert, king of the West Saxons, was partly rebuilt and greatly extended by Alexander, consecrated bishop of Lincoln in 1123, who established at it a mint. It rises picturesquely from the river, and from its position and great strength was for a long time known as the “key of the North.” Of the original Norman stronghold the most important remains are the gate-house, a crypt and the lofty rectangular tower at the south-west angle. The building seems to have been reconstructed in the early part of the 13th century. In the reign of Edward III. it was used as a state prison. During the Great Rebellion it was garrisoned for Charles I., and endured three sieges. Its dismantling was begun in 1646, immediately after the surrender of the king. There is a very beautiful and interesting cross (the “Beaumond” cross) of the latter part of the 15th century in good preservation in the town. A grammar and song school was founded in the reign of Henry VIII., and endowed by Archdeacon Magnus, and there are other considerable charities. The other principal public buildings are the town-hall in the Grecian style (erected in 1774), the corn exchange (1848), the Stock library and Middleton newsroom (1828), the mechanics' institution (1836), a free library and a fine hospital (1881). There is a large trade in malt, coal, corn and cattle. There are iron and brass foundries, boiler-works, agricultural implement manufactories and breweries. Gypsum and limestone are obtained in the neighbourhood, and plaster of Paris is extensively manufactured. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area 1931 acres.

Newark (Newerca, Nouwerk) owed its origin, possibly in Roman times, to its position on the great road called the Fosse Way, in the valley of the Trent. In a document which purports to be a charter of 664 Newark is mentioned as having been granted to the abbey of Peterborough by Wulfhere. In the reign of Edward the Confessor it belonged to Godiva, who granted it to the monastery of Stow, and it remained in the hands of the bishops of Lincoln until the reign of Edward VI. The castle was erected by Bishop Alexander in 1123, and the bridge about the same time. Under Stephen a mint was established. 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. It was incorporated under an alderman and twelve assistants in 1549, and the charter was confirmed and extended by Elizabeth. Charles I., owing to the increasing commercial prosperity of the town, reincorporated it under a mayor and aldermen, and this charter, except for a temporary surrender under James II., has continued the governing charter of the corporation. Newark returned two representatives to parliament from 1673 until 1885. A weekly market on Wednesdays, and a fair on the eve, day and morrow of the Invention of the Holy Cross, granted to the bishop of Lincoln by John, are still held; another fair at St Mary Magdalene and the four preceding days was granted by Henry III., and is probably represented by the fair now held on the 14th of May. A market for corn and cattle is still held on Wednesdays, and another on Tuesdays for fat stock has been added.