The Newark Excursion

A VISIT was paid to Newark by about forty members of the Thoroton Society, on Tuesday, 11th July, 1922.

On previous visits the Church and Castle have been studied, so they were omitted on this occasion, and the programme included a number of objects which are not usually seen by the casual visitor.

1. Old Houses in Kirkgate, early 16th century and in Millgate, with curved gables, 17th century.

2. The Mount, where Lt.-Col. R. F. B. Hodgkinson pointed out the conjectured lines of the old Town Wall, of which this is the only remaining evidence.

3. The Tithe Barn in Lovers' Lane ; a fine structure 63ft. by 38ft., in fairly good preservation.

4. The Friary, in Appleton Gate; a modern building incorporating some slight traces of ancient work of the Austin Friars.

5. The Grammar School, founded by Archdeacon Thos. Magnus in 1530; described by the Master, Rev. H. Gorse.

6. The Museum.

7. The Sconce Hills, a square bastioned earthwork thrown up for the defence of the town during the Civil War, and one of the best examples of 17th century field fortifications remaining in England.

8. St. Catherine's Well, near the "Queen's Sconce" known since the 14th century as Holy Well, Our Lady's Well, St. Catherine's Well, and Sutton Spring. Dr. E. Ringrose described the medicinal repute ascribed to its water for leprosy, and told the romantic legend of Isabel de Caldwell and her rival lovers, and how the spring gushed out where Sir Everard Bevercotes was slain by Sir Guy Saucimer, who afterwards built a hermitage and a shrine on the spot in expiation of his crime. (Dickenson, Hist. of Newark, p. 254). A carved dripstone terminal, found by the late Mr. G. Seales on this spot, and illustrated in the Reliquary, 1896, may belong to the medieval well-house.

The thanks of the Society are due to Lt.-Col. R. F. B. Hodgkinson and Mr. W. Bradley for arranging the details of the excursion, and especially to the former and Mrs. Hodgkinson, who entertained the Society at tea at the end of a day of gloriously fine weather. Thanks are also due to all those ladies and gentlemen who so kindly allowed visits to be paid to places of interest in their possession.


By R. F. B. Hodgkinson.

There are no remains left of the old walls which originally surrounded the Town, and none of the old plans in existence show them. The oldest plans only show the defences of the Town during the sieges, which would be outside the line of the main walls.

It is safe to assume that no fields would be enclosed within the walls, so any old plan which shows the fields would give a rough idea of the limits within which we have to look for the line of the walls.

Looking towards the north from where we stand on the Mount, we have on the left, North Gate House, which was described in the conveyance to Robert Heron in 1698, as being in "Northgate alias Northgate juxta Newarke." In a plan dated 1790, the gardens in front of us were shewn as being in closes, known as Appleton closes, and King's Road just on our left was only a footpath.

My assumption, therefore, is that on the North side of the Town the wall started at Trent Bridge, which was further to the north than it is now, and followed the present line of Brewery Lane, Slaughterhouse Lane, and the Mount, to Appleton Gate.

It is difficult to say where the line of the wall crossed Appleton Gate, but as the land between the north wall of the Chauntry property and the south wall of the present grounds of the Friary in 1790, was a garden or orchard belonging to the Friary, I think we may assume that the line of the wall at this point was approximately along the northern boundary of the Chauntry grounds.

At some point along this boundary the wall turned towards the south, and it is this eastern wall which gives us the greatest difficulty. The wall ran somewhere across the Chauntry Park, between the house itself and Friary Road, formerly known as "Friars Lane." In 1445 there was a grant of a section of land outside the town lying between the east end of the garden of the Chauntry on the west and land of the Priory of St. Katherine-without-Lincoln on the east.

The wall would then run behind the old Grammar School, across Bede House Lane, and slightly to the east of Barnby Gate House. There is a distinct angle in the garden wall of the latter house in Bede House Lane, in old days the main Coddington and Sleaford Road, which may be the point where the wall crossed this Lane.

The line of the wall would then run to the east of Guild Hall Street, as the Guild Hall would certainly be inside the walls, somewhere about the line of what was the Cromwell Brewery. The lower portion of the walls of some houses to the east of St. Mary's Church Rooms in Guild Hall Street, which are on the suggested line, are built of stone. The wall then crossed Balderton Gate and turned in a south west direction to Carter Gate. I think the line of the wall crossed Carter Gate, somewhere near Mr. W. P. L. Harrison's garage, as there is a room in his house which appears to me to date from the early 17th century. Beaumond Cross would be outside the walls.

From this point the line of the wall is quite easy to follow, as it ran down the north side of what is now Lombard Street, but which used to be called Potterdyke. In 1366 a messuage in Potterdyke was described as outside the Town. The wall then crossed Castle Gate and continued to the river.

It must be understood that the whole of the above remarks are only suggestions, and that I may be quite wrong as to the line of the main walls of the town. It is probable that at its earliest period the town was surrounded by walls which were not so extensive as those I have suggested.

Many old towns were laid out in the shape of a parallelogram, and if we measure the river frontage on the west, and the north and south walls as previously suggested, and an east wall along Carter Gate and Appleton Gate, we get a town with walls of approximately the following lengths :—North 1350 feet, South 1300 feet, East 1100 feet, West 1330 feet.

This suggestion accounts for the present name of Bridge Street, formerly "Dry-Brig," leading from the Market Place into Carter Gate, as it would be the street leading to the Bridge over the Moat. It might also account for the name "Middle Gate" as this street would then be the "middle gate or street of the town.