Thursday, January 19, 2012

Newark, a slighted castle

click photo to enlarge
In England the act of deliberately making a castle unusable for its original defensive purpose was called "slighting". It was an act carried out by a victorious army or a monarch who felt threatened by, or was disgruntled with, the powerful owner and occupier. Such "slighted" castles are very common, and this one at Newark in Nottinghamshire is a good example of the type.

The building stands on a cliff commanding the crossing point of the River Trent. The earliest parts were erected by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, around 1133. The very obviously Norman gatehouse, much of which remains, was his work. Subsequent centuries saw extension and rebuilding of the castle. Much of the curtain wall overlooking the river and two of the three turrets are likely to be the work of a later fourteenth century bishop, Henry de Burghersh. Interestingly, unlike most English castles of the period, Newark never had a keep.

The town of Newark was a Royalist stronghold during the English Civil War (1642-51) and the castle was subject to siege by Parliamentary forces on three occasions during the conflict. Only after the capture of King Charles 1 in 1646 did it surrender. The "slighting" began immediately. Buildings were taken down and stonework was removed from towers and the walls. The passage of time carried on the work of demolition until the town authorities and national heritage organisations brought it to a halt. The result is the romantic ruin that we see today. The interior now features a small park and a museum. Our recent visit to Newark coincided with cold, calm, clear weather and I took advantage of the still surface of the river to secure this photograph of the castle with its clear reflection.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 60mm
F No: f7.1 Shutter Speed: 1/400 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -1.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On