NEWARK (or in full Newark-upon-Trent), a municipal and parliamentary borough and market-town of Nottinghamshire, England, is situated in the midst of a flat but highly cultivated country, near the Trent, on the river Devon, and on the Great Northern and Nottingham and Lincoln Railways, 120 miles north of London, and 19 east of Nottingham. By means of a canal 1miles in length it is connected with the Trent navigation. The town is well built, with wide but irregular streets, which diverge from the market-place. 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 feet high) by which it is surmounted. The central piers of the old church, dating from the 11th or 12th century, still 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 were completed about 1350, the nave between 1384 and 1393, and the chancel in 1489. The sanctuary is bounded on the south and north by two chauntry 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. The castle from its position and its 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 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 civil war it was garrisoned for the king, and endured three sieges. Its dismantling was commenced 11th May 1646. 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. 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), the new hospital (1881, a very fine building). Two elegant buildings—a coffee palace and a free library—were given to the town in 1882. By means of the Trent navigation Newark carries on a large trade in coal, corn, and cattle. The manufacture of malt is by far the chief source of wealth in the town. 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 population of the municipal and parliamentary borough (area 1933 acres) in 1871 was 12,195, which in 1881 had increased to 14,018.
From the large number of Roman remains found in the neighbourhood, from traces of ditches, and from supposed portions of Roman buildings that still exist, some antiquarians suppose that Newark was an important Roman station built to protect the navigation of the Trent, and identify it with the British Ael Tavum, the Roman Eltavona, and the Saxon Sidnacester, which was an episcopal see of Mercia. The balance of probability seems, however, to favour the opinion that Sidnacester was situated in Lincolnshire. The first authentic notice of Newark is during the Saxon heptarchy. The town was partly destroyed by the Danes, but during the reign of Edward the Confessor it was rebuilt. By Leofric, earl of Mercia, the manor of Newark was bestowed upon the monastery of Stow, near Lincoln. The castle and manor were conveyed to the crown by Henry Holbeach, bishop of Lincoln, in the reign of Edward VI., by whom the town was incorporated in 1549. It was created a mayoralty by Charles II. in 1625. It is supposed to have sent members to parliament in the reign of Edward VI., but it is not known how long the privilege had been in abeyance when it was restored by Charles II. in 1625, from which time it has returned two members. Newark is the birthplace of Bishop Warburton; David Hartley taught in its grammar school; and the first volume of Lord Byron’s poems was printed by Ridge, a Newark bookseller.