The Surrender of Newark!

May 8th 2016 marks four hundred and fifty years since the Royalist forces holding the town of Newark-on-Trent during the English Civil War surrendered to Parliament. This was done on the orders of King Charles 1, who had already surrendered himself to Parliament at the town of Southwell, eight miles away. Members of the Sealed Knot re-enactment group gathered last Sunday (May 8th) to commemorate the events of the official ceremony of surrender. And we hopped along to have a look.

First we headed for the castle grounds to watch the groups gathering before they marched to the Market Place for the actual surrender ceremony. A few tents had been set up and accompanying wives and children, also in costume, added interest to the scene. The soldiers in blue are the Scots, who had fought for Parliament. The royalists are in red, some of the more high-ranking ones dressed as cavaliers with red sashes and big black hats with plumes. One or two Puritan ministers were also present (in black, with white collars):

This is the march to the Market Place to the sound of accompanying drum beat:

Civil War broke out in 1642, for many reasons that I won’t go into here, other than to say that the causes can (very generally) be said to fall into three categories: politics, religion and money. King Charles and Parliament simply could not agree on so many issues. Like all civil wars, it split the country in two as people sided with either King or Parliament. Sometimes, members of the same family were on different sides: a tragic state of affairs.

Newark was staunchly Royalist from the beginning, besieged three times until it surrendered, reluctantly, in May 1646, on Charles’ orders. The town had been surrounded by enemy sconces (forts) and totally battered. Scars from cannon fire can still be seen on the castle wall facing the river, and the church in the town centre displays a hole beneath one of the windows in the spire where a cannon ball struck:

056 Newark Church Cannonball hole.2 +

So, by 1646, the town’s food supplies had been cut off for some time; people were nearing starvation and suffering from plague. War debts and damage to the surrounding grazing and farmland would impoverish it for generations. Yet still, surrender was only accepted under protest by the town’s garrison, the loyal Royalists prepared to hold out to the bitter end.

Newark played a vital role during the English Civil War. Not only was it was situated at the intersection of two major roads (the Great North Road and the Fosse Way) it was also sited at the last crossing point of the River Trent before it became tidal. Additionally, Newark’s central location, near to Parliamentary areas in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, made it particularly desirable to Parliamentary generals.

The Royalists held it  and the Parliamentarians wanted it! And in the end, Oliver Cromwell’s well-disciplined and organised ‘New Model Army’ won out over the less well organised, less well paid and less well fed Royalist troops. The execution by beheading of Charles 1 in 1649, is one of the most well known events of English history.

And finally, here are some photos of the ceremony. Unfortunately, as we were ‘roped off’ it was difficult to get close. The then Governor of Newark, Sir John Henderson (a Scottish military figure who was thought to add ‘clout’ to the Royalist cause) plays the major role. Several speeches were made.

Then it was back to the castle for the stalls and displays of musket fire in the afternoon. As we’d watched the Sealed Knot do this last September (which I posted about) we gave it a miss on this occasion.

25 thoughts on “The Surrender of Newark!

    1. I love all re-enactments, Shivangi and have been to a few this year. They seem to be on all over the country at the moment. Thanks for liking it!

      1. That must be so cool… Thank you for showing us. England has a glorious past… cannot help reading more and more about it😀

  1. You visit the most interesting places and I always learn so much Millie. I love your pictures and thanks for sharing the video of your last trip, when you watched the parade.

    1. We’ve never attempted videos before now and to be honest, they aren’t very good – and they’re rather shaky. It’s had to hold a camera still surrounded by moving people. But we’re learning. They showed the parade, so I decided to use them. Thank you again. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ali. Nick and I really need better cameras for better quality photos. The ones I took are from my Samsung tablet, and Nick’s are from a small and quite old camera. Lou has a nice posh camera with a good zoom lens. But, in my defence, I never set out to be a photography blog. Lol I just seem to have drifted that way lately.

      1. I bought myself a little Panasonic Lumix. Very light and not too expensive, just right for the “enthusiastic amateur”.

  2. What fun! I’m a total sucker for reenactment events that involve dressing in period costume! Although I have to mentally make all the clothes look much dirtier and faded and wrinkled, to satisfy my desire for realism. Nobody looks that neat at the end of a siege.

  3. Really interesting post > I cant imagine what it must have been like to have a sword or one of those pikes shoved into me yeeeeech. BTW: I couldn’t find out what that red circle was around that hole in the tower Millie. Hope you are well 🙂

    1. Thank, Andy. The hole inside the red circle is where a cannon ball hit – fired from one of the Parliamentary forts surrounding the town. (It says that in the post, just above the photo.) 🙂

    1. Yes, the people in these re-enactment groups really go out of their way to get authentic looking clothes and weapons etc. They love what they do and the time period they choose to re-enact. Thank you, Rockhopper.

  4. What a great parade with such rich historical background… In the description above you mentioned that the soldiers in blue were the Scots, who had fought for Parliament. The royalists were in red… I see much more red members than blue, though… I guess that might be a sort of revealing sign of how the forces were displayed by then… But maybe It is just due to the fact that the pics show more red members, so I am not so sure about my own statement… take it as a tentative hypothesis, then… 😉
    Sending love and best wishes. Happy weekend, dear Millie. Aquileana 😀

    1. Thank you, Aquileana. You’re right, this wasn’t a big turn out of the Sealed Kot. They’d just had a really big one the previous Sunday at Newark Castle and this was just its baby brother! The actors seem to keep the same uniforms for every event and there weren’t many Scots here on this occasion. 🙂

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