My knowledge of the Civil War which took place in England in the 17th century is spotty at best, but my visit to what remains of Newark Castle gave me a little more insight.
The castle was built in 1130 and King John died here in 1216. However in 1643 it became the scene of bitter sieges during the English Civil War which lasted for nine years.
Known as the Key to the North the castle was Royalist as it was frequented by James I and his successor, Charles I. Soldiers came to Newark to defend it against the Parliamentarians and fighting was fierce, not only within the castle but around the town of Newark itself. On May 5th 1646 King Charles I was captured nearby and ordered Newark Castle to surrender to the Parliamentarians. An order was given for the castle to be destroyed and the buildings were blown up or removed, allowing stone robbers to carry out their nefarious activities.
What remains of the castle is the curtain wall and what was part of the great hall. A little imagination is needed to visualise this as one of the key locations of the war, but it is a very picturesque spot with a bandstand, pretty gardens and a spacious park where people were enjoying the spring sunshine.
The River Trent runs alongside the ruins and the lock was once a very busy inland port during the 1800s. A sign explained that nowadays kingfishers and otters may be spotted, but I saw no sign of either.
A large statue of what I was taught in bygone years as the conflict between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers, (now referred to as the Parliamentarians and the Royalists) stands close to the walls, a stark reminder of a dark time in Britain’s history. I went on to learn more about the Civil War in Pontefract Castle which will feature in my next blog.