IT will be obvious to the visitor, on his first glance at the Castle, that considerable alterations were made to it during the 15th century. Fortunately, it is possible to determine to within a decade the period at which these were effected as their chief feature, the beautiful oriel window on the river front, is signed with the coat-of-arms of Bishop Rotherham, who held the see of Lincoln from 1471 to 1480.

His alterations were not of a military character, being mainly limited to the remodelling of the interior of the domestic buildings, but such remodelling appears to have been exceedingly thorough. Thus the gatehouse chapel was divided into two by a floor and a large window opened out on the south side of each floor. The five Norman windows on the front of the gatehouse were closed and three windows cut rather clumsily in place of them. This mutilation of the chapel suggests that there must have been another and larger chapel somewhere in the castle.

The chief alterations, however, were to the Great Hall. The wall at the northern end of this was removed to above the other end of the crypt below, and the first floor of the original two-storied structure at the gatehouse end carried over the portion thus taken away from the Hall itself. The whole of the first floor was then raised and a roof of flatter pitch, traces of which may be clearly seen, erected over the whole. The raising of the Hall roof necessitated the raising of the adjacent curtain for its protection, and this was done by building up on top of the 13th-century wall-walk, the line of which may be seen by its projecting coping. The gable end of the Hall was also raised, being partly rebuilt in the process, and a new door was made from the first floor into the wall-passage in the curtain at this point.

New windows were made to give more light to the re-modelled Hall, chief of these being the beautiful oriel window ; the main architectural feature to-day of the river front and, indeed, of the whole castle. New windows were cut also in the north and middle towers and the upper part of the west tower was again rebuilt with a fine new door and window. The windows of the lower floors of this tower were also re-modelled and the part of the Hall range abutting on the tower removed and a new window cut on this face. It was probably at this time that the external staircase to the upper part of this tower was constructed.

Finally, the whole of the curtain next the gatehouse was cut about and re-modelled, apparently owing to timber structures having been erected outside the walls at this point, doors and fireplaces being made for these in the stone curtain itself.


The beginning of the end of the glorious days of Newark Castle came when Bishop Holbeach had to surrender his palace stronghold to Henry VIII in the year 1547. From that time, its history is one of a slow-falling into complete ruin. Although Crown property, neither Henry nor his successors seem to have had any use for it, and in 1560, Queen Elizabeth leased it to Sir Francis Leake for twenty-one years.

In 1569, there was a serious rebellion against Elizabeth in favour of Mary and the old religion. The insurgents were mostly from the north and east of the country, and a large army was mustered at Newark in the following year to stop their advance. Among the leaders of this loyal army was the Earl of Rutland, who seems to have been much impressed by the grand appearance of Newark Castle, so much so, indeed, that five years later he petitioned the Queen to grant him a lease of it, giving as his reason that he had not any house within the county of Nottingham. The Queen granted his request, but he had to wait until the expiration of the lease of twenty-one years which had been granted to the existing lessee, Sir Francis Leake, at the end of which period he achieved his desire.

The Letters Patent granting the lease of the Castle to the Earl of Rutland are interesting and are here quoted.

" Whereas we by our Letters Patent dated the third year of our reign, granted to Francis Leake the castle of Newark until the end of a term of twenty-one years, which Letters Patent our beloved cousin Edward Earl of Rutland now possessing, has surrendered to us in our

Exchequer, know ye that because the said castle is in great decay and ruin for want of repairing, as we are for certain given to understand, the burdens and expenses of which repairs the said Edward Earl of Rutland, Isobel his wife and the Lady Elizabeth Manners their daughter, offer to expend and maintain the said castle at their own expense, we have granted to them the whole of the said castle, to have and to hold to Edward, Earl of Rutland, and after his death to Isobel his wife, and after her death to the Lady Elizabeth Manners their daughter, for an annual rent of 53/4d. ; and it shall be lawful for them to pull down and to demolish forty feet of the height of a certain high tower of the said Castle of Newark, so that they may use the stones, lead, iron, timber and rubbish of the said part of a tower for repairing the buildings now within the walls of the castle, to quit if desired at one year's notice on payment of cost of repairs." 14th February, 1581.

This grant is of interest in that it tells us of the dilapidated state of the castle in 1581, and how it was apparently as much the custom then as to-day of letting a large residence, for a nominal rent, to a person willing to keep it in repair. The chief interest in the grant lies, however, in the mention of a high tower which was to be destroyed. There are no signs visible of any foundations of a destroyed tower. The southern angle of the castle may still be detected in the corner of the gardens and so far as may be seen, the wall returned at the angle without any angle tower. It has been suggested that in about the year 1173, when the high curtain walls were built, the north-eastern side of the castle was re-aligned so as to make a very acute angle with the south-eastern. Whether or not a tower was built at this angle at the same time as the west tower it is impossible to say, but it is almost certain that the architect of the late 13th-century alterations would never have left such a salient angle unguarded by a strong tower. There seem to have been indications, met with from time to time, that there was once a polygonal tower at some point near the present entrance to the Castle Gardens, and one may therefore suppose that there was, in fact, a large wall-tower similar to the North Tower, at the eastern angle of the castle.

The Earl of Rutland does not seem to have exerted himself over the matter of repairing the castle, and, on his death in 1587, it was still as dilapidated as ever. His widow succeeded him as its owner, but it is doubtful whether anything would have been done had it not been for the efforts of one of the trustees of the Earl's will, Sir William Cecil, afterwards Lord Burghley. He it was who eventually put in hand the long-delayed repairs, many traces of which may be seen to-day in the large, square-headed windows which he inserted in the river front, their broad lights and slender mullions giving, doubtless, a vastly improved outlook over the pleasant valley of the Trent.

One might wonder why it was that Sir William Cecil took so much pains over the castle when he was but the trustee for its late owner's will. The answer is soon found, for the next owner of the castle, the widowed Countess's daughter, Lady Elizabeth Manners, in 1588 married his nephew, thus bringing to him the beautiful dwelling the uncle had so considerately and carefully repaired. It is interesting to note that the wedding took place in the castle chapel, not the one over the gatehouse, which had by that time been cut up pnd desecrated, but clearly another structure which has now disappeared, but which was probably a detached building within the courtyard, the foundations of which may still be discoverable under the lawns.

The repairs made by Sir William Cecil in 1587 constitute the last attempts to save the castle from ruin. Its history thenceforth, is as before, one of slow decay. Even the story of the part it played during the sieges of 1643-5 is completely overshadowed by that of the heroic defence of the town itself. Both Charles and his Queen visited Newark, doubtless staying in the castle. Bombardment was met by sortie and onfall by repulse as the long months drew on, until the time came when all could foresee the ultimate end to the struggle, and King Charles put a stop to the bitter conflict by surrendering his person to the Scottish army camped in the fields almost beneath the walls of the castle. Town and castle won at last, the Parliament was not long in effecting what the centuries had failed to do, and the destruction of the stubborn stronghold was put in hand at once.

The epitaph of Newark Castle may be found in the parish registers of North Collingham :—

"Anno Domini 1646. Richard Thorneton, labourer, who was killed with the fall of stone at the pulling down of Newark Castle, was buryed the 18th day of July."

Notes on the sheet of four plans suggesting the possible evolution of the castle.

1. Suggested arrangement of the Bishops' fishstew on the south-east bank of the river, between it and the P'osse Way, with the manor house (shown with a broken line) nearby.

2. The castle of Bishop Alexander, constructed c. 1135. The fishpool enlarged towards the south-east, the earth taken out being thrown up to form a rampart, and this carried round the site of the original manor house, in so doing cutting the Fosse Way as shown. The site of the castle hall of Bishop Alexander is   suggested by the hatched rectangle. The entrance bridge over the ditch is shown and also the new town bridge constructed  by the Bishop. (This is drawn on the site of the existing bridge.)

3. The first stone castle of c. 1175. The rampart has been removed and the soil of it spread over the site. The original fishpool ditch has been squared up, and the castle enclosure extended eastwards over the area thus provided. The castle has also been extended westwards by building the crypt on the river bank, below the river scarp of the original castle. High stone curtains have been built round the whole site. At the end of the retained entrance bridge, the great stone gatehouse has been built. Over the crypt and against the new river front has been erected the new great hall. (The broken line shows the approximate outline of Bishop Alexander's castle).

4. The Edwardian rebuilding of about 1290. The river wall has become unsafe and has been removed. In the angle between the crypt and the little Norman stair turret, the water-gate passage and the two dungeons have been constructed. The north tower has been built and connected to the original west tower, with a new river wall rising straight from the water, having an intermediate tower halfway between the two end ones. Against this new wall, a new great hall has been built, the whole range extending as far as the original south-west curtain. Finally, the whole of the 12th-century curtains and the gatehouse, which had been built upon the earthen scarps of the original castle, are underpinned with a sloping masonry plinth in place of the earth scarp. Possibly a polygonal tower, similar to the north tower, was, at this time, erected at the salient eastern angle of the castle. (The broken line shows the present-day river banks).