6 January 2012

Repair work to begin at Newark Castle

Newark Castle. Photo: David Ingham (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Newark Castle
, partially destroyed by the siege of 1645-6 - the third and final siege of the English Civil War - is undergoing a structured series of repair works.

The recommendations were made after two areas of the castle grounds were fenced off to the public due to risk of falling masonry ...

Newark and Sherwood District Council has allocated £130,000 to the most urgent repairs, with more cash coming from a heritage lottery grant via the Landfill Communities Fund. A five-year project concentrating on the remaining fabric of the structure is planned, concentrating on less urgent repairs.

A previous £1 million project to repair the castle between 1979-1994 was largely funded by English Heritage, who are now considering increasing the risk status of the castle from low to medium.

Though hugely outnumbered by a besieging Parliamentary force of 16,000, the Royalist garrison in the city - led by Lord Belasyse - held out through the hard winter of 1645-6. By the spring the city was surrounded, with supplies running low and disease taking hold. The Scots army under the Earl of Leven proceeded to capture a former Royalist sconce and bombard the castle from the elevated position.

Events outside the city, however, were moving quickly. After fleeing Oxford from the approaching New Model Army, King Charles surrendered to the Scots under David Leslie at Southwell and ordered Newark to be given up - as recounted by Belasyse to Samuel Pepys in 1665:
This message he sent in a Slugg-bullet, being writ in Cypher and wrapped up in lead and swallowed. So the messenger came to my Lord and told him he had a message from the King, but it was yet in his belly; so they did give him some physic, and out it came.
Belasyse was said to have wept when he received the instruction, but was allowed to march out of the city with the remainder of his men. Forced abroad he soldiered  on the continent and was an original (and the only Catholic) member of the Sealed Knot.

Newark Castle Gardens

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