Newark and Sherwood has such a rich history, home to locations that have played host to royalty and the legends of Robin Hood and seen the likes of an English Civil War and the birth of Britain’s favourite cooking apple.
Newark is the quintessential English market town, with a thriving cobbled Royal Market with the backdrop of one of the Georgian Town Hall. Surrounded by many independent shops, cafes, pubs and eateries, the market place is the hub of the town. Inside Newark Town Hall is a civic museum dedicated to telling Newark’s civic history as well as an art gallery highlighting some of Newark’s best artists. The town hall, which is also home to Newark town council, boasts one of the UK’s finest examples of a Regency Ballroom, with a stunning ceiling that you can study for hours on end without getting bored.
One of the town’s most dramatic features in the riverside castle, made famous for its royal visitor. King John arrived at Newark Castle on the night of 18th October 1216, incredibly ill with dysentery during a stalemate in the First Baron’s War, an outcome of the failed negotiations in Runnymede in 1215 which resulted in the signing of the Magna Carta. Accounts of that night say that the worst storm ever to sweep through the country raged through the night of the 18th October 1216 as King John, in a lot of pain, died from his illness. Whilst the castle now lies in runs the history is still tangible, Newark Castle volunteers bring the history of the castle to life with the gripping tours of the castle which include the undercroft and the dungeons!
Newark was also a vital Royalist mainstay during the English Civil War for its strategic position at the crossroads of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way as well as an important crossing point over the River Trent. The National Civil War Centre is the only museum in the UK to explore in depth the events of the English Civil War; you can discover how the people of Newark survived three Parliamentarian sieges by dodging cannon fire and hammering flat family silver to make coins…only for plague to ravage the town!
Other attractions include Newark Air Museum, St Mary Magdalene Church, River Cruises, Sconce and Devon Park and Kelham Hall. Newark has excellent train connections as well as being easily accessible from the A1, M1, A46 and A17.
The jewel in Nottinghamshire’s Crown, Southwell is a beautiful picturesque town just a short hop from Newark. Southwell is host to the awe-inspiring Southwell Minster, renowned for its twin ‘pepperpot’ towers, Norman Nave and the medieval stone carvings known as the ‘Leaves of Southwell’ in the Chapter House. There is so much history in Southwell Minster and the Archbishop’s Palace and it really is worth having a tour with one of the Stewards to explore the depth and breadth of this incredible building.
Southwell is also home to Britain’s first, and best preserved, Victorian Workhouse. Originally built in 1824, on the instructions of Revered John T. Beecher and George Nicholls, the idea behind this impressive building was to remove the pressure on local parishes to look after the truly destitute. The Workhouse was to act as a ‘deterrent’ to ensure that only the truly destitute would submit themselves to such a harsh regime. Now run by the National Trust, the Workhouse will re-open in April of this year with a new look, the National Trust have been hard at work at restoring the original 1871 Firbeck Infirmary building, that has been largely untouched for decades. The completion of this restoration means that visitors will have access to previously unexplored areas of the site.
Did you know that a tree planted in Southwell produced Britain’s favourite cooking apple? The Bramley Apple. The first ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ tree grew from pip planted by Mary Ann Brailsford when she was a young girl in her garden in 1809. The tree was later purchased by a local butcher Matthew Bramley as part of the cottage. In 1856 a local nurseryman, Henry Merryweather asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apples. Bramley agreed but insisted that the apples should bear his name…smart man! Southwell celebrates the huge success the Bramley apple has had by hosting the Bramley Festival every October which includes food and drink festivals held in Southwell Minster which incorporates all manner of apple-related products, fruit specialists and craftsmen!
What makes Southwell extra special though is the independent shops, with over 50 retail businesses in the town and surrounding area, just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed!
Visit Sherwood Forest
Where legends grow, Sherwood Forest is home to the myths and stories of the UK’s favourite hero, Robin Hood. Sherwood Forest covers 375 hectares of the National Nature Reserve and is home to hundreds of species of birds, insects, mammals, fungi, trees and plant. The forest also boasts hundreds of ancient oaks thriving for more than 500 years, including Robin Hood and his Merry Men’s hideout – Major Oak, which is estimated to be around 1,000 years old.
The RSPB, now look after the beautiful forest and have recently opened their new Visitor Centre where you can pick up your Robin Hood costume or enjoy a cup of coffee or something to eat. There are plenty of walks and trails that cover all fitness levels, interests and durations from a short and sweet nature trail to a whole day amongst the giant ancient oaks. They also have events on throughout the year, including the Robin Hood Festival which will take place in August.
Rufford Abbey Country Park is just a short distance from the Forest, originally a Cistercian abbey; Rufford was converted to a country house in the 16th century after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Now, you can enjoy a walk around the stunning surroundings of Rufford Abbey by either setting out for yourself or by joining one of the rangers on a walking tour as they guide you around the fascinating Abbey and grounds with over 870 years of history.
Other attractions include the old Ducal seat of Thoresby Hall, now also home to Thoresby Courtyard which boasts beautiful craft shops, a café and plenty of scenery to discover on one of their trails and walks. Sherwood forest is also home to adrenaline junkies with the likes of Sherwood Pines and Go Ape, as well as those who want to discover the history and culture of Sherwood with the Queen’s Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry museum, and Laxton Visitor Centre.
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