£800,000 plan to transform Newark Castle

An ambitious plan to turn Newark Castle’s historic Gatehouse into a major new visitor attraction has been unveiled.

The impressive 12th century landmark – where the infamous John, King of England died in 1216 - has been lined up for major renovation and restoration work - if funding can be secured.

A grant application is being drawn up  for the scheme,  which would involve installing a  roof and reinstating new floors to the Gatehouse, with the new interiors accommodating fascinating and informative new features to vastly improve the visitor experience.

The scheduled ancient monument is one of the finest surviving Norman Gatehouses in the country and Newark and Sherwood District Council, which manages it, will be making a bid for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund next month.

The bid is fully supported by the Gilstrap Charity whose main aim is the advancement of public knowledge and understanding of features of historical interest in the Newark area.

Improvements to the Gatehouse, which would include restored direct access with the North West tower, would help increase visitor numbers both to the castle and the town while paid-for features would bring additional income streams to help manage the building and grounds.

The castle was largely reduced to a shell of its former self after Oliver Cromwell ordered it to be put beyond military use during the 17th century British Civil Wars, however much of the original Gatehouse structure remains today.

The council and Gilstrap Charity believe it should house a key educational resource which could feature interpretation on the history of King John, Norman crime and punishment, the outlaw sub-culture that surrounded the mythical Nottinghamshire hero Robin Hood and the castle’s pivotal role in Newark’s Civil War history.

It would feature among a cluster of heritage attractions with Lincoln – with its copy of the historic Magna Carta which was signed by King John – and Nottingham – with its Robin Hood legacy – both close by.

The year 2016 also marks the 800th anniversary of the King’s death. He put his name to the Magna Carta – which is still revered as a blueprint for many of our modern rights and freedoms – a year before in 1215.

The plans will be submitted ahead of the opening, in the spring, of the National Civil War Centre with an extra 50,000 visitors a year expected to visit the town and district. At the same time a revolutionary, 21st century augmented reality history trail will be launched, detailing the key moments – including episodes from the castle - from the Civil War.

The castle, already renowned for its dungeons and ghost stories, costs in the region of £70,000 annually to maintain and staff and attracts in the region of 150,000 visitors a year. It is estimated that these visitors generate more than  £200,000 in revenue to the town and surrounding area. 

The Gatehouse Project would cost £800,000 and the council, which  will submit its Stage One funding bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund by the end of February,  is also looking at other potential funding partners.

A decision by the HLF will be made by June. At this stage, to do the necessary research, it will cost in the region of £50,000 to put in the bid.

Andy Statham, the district council’s Director of Community, said: “The castle is emblematic of the historic town of Newark and these proposals would help further improve an already treasured and popular attraction. They would greatly enhance the visitor experience and provide an important source of income to maintain a very valuable asset.”

The castle and gardens include:

  • Quiet garden areas for rest and relaxation, with seating 
  • Access to the castle's walls and dungeons
  • Bandstand for seasonal concerts
  • Surfaced pathways suitable for wheelchairs
  • Castle ranger service for regular tours of the castle and gardens
  • Nearest Public Toilets are located in the Gilstrap Centre
  • Nearby parking
  • Close to shopping areas and historic market place
  • Get married at Newark Castle

Newark Castle and Garden 2015 calendar is now on sale! Pick your copy up from Newark Tourist Information Centre for £7 or email floss.newman@nsdc.info

Events and tours

Please note there will be no tours during January 2015. They will start again from Friday 6 February.

Guided tours of the Castle are conducted by the Castle Ranger every week. 

For reviews of the tours or to leave your own feedback visit the Castle's Trip Advisor page.

Please note, the Dungeon Tour involves climbing up and down a steep ladder. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Green Flag Award

In recognition of the high standards of the gardens and local community involvement the castle gardens have for many years gained the prestigious Green Flag Award, marking it out as one of the best.

Friends of Newark Castle

Newark Castle Wall and RuinsThe Friends of Newark Castle and Gardens is a group of volunteers which assists the council with the management and maintenance of the castle gardens. The group represents different users of the castle and grounds and advises the council on how to meet their diverse needs. The friends meet monthly and new members are always welcome. For further details please contact the council.

For further information or to join the Friends of Newark Castle and Gardens, please contact Allan Towler by email allan.towler@btinternet.com 

  • 01636 650000

    Mon - Thurs 8:45am - 5:15pm
    Friday 8:45am - 4:45pm

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  • Get in touch:

    Newark and Sherwood District Council
    Kelham Hall
    NG23 5QX