A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1963.
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By 1960 the almost wholesale demolition of buildings in Goose Street, Lower Street, Holborn, and the surrounding area had obliterated any traces, if such survived, of the early development of the town on the low-lying ground between the castle site and the High Street. Among houses still standing or partly demolished in this area, one or two are of the early 18th century. They include the Pomona Inn, which retains a brick façade of c. 1700 and a semicircular door-hood on carved brackets. It was also in this area, in Lower Street, that a house of Dominican friars, established by 1277, (fn. 1) stood. At the dissolution (1538) the domestic buildings included a hall called Kingsley Hall and 'the New Chamber'. (fn. 2) With some lands nearby they were granted in 1540 to John Smith, yeoman of the guard, with remainder to his son Richard for life. (fn. 3) In 1578 John Somer held them, (fn. 4) and in 1705 Ralph Beech of Newcastle. (fn. 5) At the second date they were decayed and had 'lately' been partly used for a kiln and malthouse. The foundations were discovered in 1870–1 when the cattle market was being constructed. (fn. 6) Further excavations in 1881 revealed some skeletons and a large sepulchral slab which was removed to St. Giles's churchyard. (fn. 7)
The only medieval domestic structure which has been found within the area of the ancient borough is the Star Inn on the south side of Ironmarket. (fn. 8) This is a timber-framed building consisting of a two-bay hall parallel with the street, the bays being divided by an open truss with chamfered timbers and an arch-braced tie beam. West of the hall is a two-storied cross wing, its ground floor now occupied by a shop. The upper story probably contained the solar of the medieval house. Subsequent alterations to the building include an inserted ceiling to provide bedrooms in the upper part of the hall and a yard entry driven through its eastern bay. These may well have been made early in the 17th century. There are later brick additions at the back of the house.
In the Newcastle area timber construction appears to have been superseded by brick about the middle of the 17th century and there is no evidence that stone was in general use for early domestic buildings. It was said in 1911, however, that red sandstone from the demolished castle was to be found in the foundations of older houses, notably of the Lamb Inn in High Street, (fn. 9) rebuilt in 1925. Newcastle has always been noted for the number of its taverns and public houses, 65 being listed in 1839, exclusive of 32 beerretailing establishments. (fn. 10) Several, of which early mention is made, have now disappeared, including the 'Angel' in High Street (in existence by 1569), (fn. 11) and the 'Eagle and Child' in Bridge Street (in existence by 1647). (fn. 12) By the 20th century nearly all the buildings in the town dating from before 1700 were, or had formerly been, licensed houses. Several were timber-framed structures but were not, except for the 'Star', known to incorporate medieval work. In High Street they include the 'Red Lion' (Penkhull Street), refronted with the adjoining house in the 18th century, and the Wine Vaults (Red Lion Square), much altered in both the 18th and 19th centuries. At the corner of Friars Street a timber-framed building, at one time partly occupied by the Market Inn, was demolished in 1958. Soon afterwards the 'Three Tuns' (Red Lion Square) was taken down, together with the adjoining shop on the corner of Church Street which had formed one of the two gabled crosswings of the original building. The 'Three Tuns' first appears under this name in 1793, (fn. 13) although the building is much older, and it became one of the smaller coaching inns of Newcastle. Both the 'Old Bull's Head' and Hinds Vaults in Lad Lane, the latter facing High Street, are timber-framed buildings. Hinds Vaults has a double-gabled front, later faced with brickwork and given two projecting bay windows surmounted by cast-iron balustrades. These alterations were probably made in 1843, the date which appears on a barrel sign above the central doorway. (fn. 14) In 1960 the only timber building to retain something approaching its original front was the former 'Golden Ball' in High Street, formerly nos. 7 and 9 Bridge Street. This has an overhanging upper story and two gabled half-dormers. The Rainbow Inn on the east side of High Street, first mentioned by this name in 1851, (fn. 15) is a mid-17th-century brick structure with a later stucco frontage.
As the principal road through the town High Street contained several important coaching inns by the beginning of the 19th century. The most notable at this period was the 'Roebuck' (fn. 16) which Lord Torrington described in 1792 as the largest inn of the town but at the same time as 'one of the most savage, dirty alehouses' he had ever entered. (fn. 17) In 1839 the owner of the Castle Hotel opposite announced that he had acquired 'the horses, chaises, flys, hearses etc.' from the 'Roebuck's' late proprietor. (fn. 18) By 1842 the 'Roebuck' had closed, (fn. 19) but it appears to have opened again for a short period in the 1860's. (fn. 20) The building, which still stands on the west side of High Street, dates from the late 18th century and includes a large assembly room at the rear. Its three-story front, pierced by a carriage entrance, has been converted into shops and much altered. The Castle Hotel, the only coaching house to have survived until 1960, appears to have opened c. 1820, (fn. 21) but the building may be a little older. The stucco front of three stories has a central doorway flanked by large two-storied bay windows. The space between the bays on the first floor was formerly occupied by an elaborate castle sign. (fn. 22) An extension to the south of the building is of comparatively recent date. (fn. 23) Other coaching inns were the 'King's Head', the 'Three Tuns', the 'Woolpack', the 'Talbot', and the 'Globe'. (fn. 24) The 'Woolpack' stood at the junction of Red Lion Square and Lad Lane, (fn. 25) forming part of a block of buildings since reconstructed. A 'Talbot' is mentioned in High Street as early as 1608 (fn. 26) and the coaching house was also there in 1851, (fn. 27) but the present inn of that name is a later building standing in Church Street. The 'Globe' first appears in Red Lion Square in 1834. (fn. 28) It was demolished c. 1898 when Globe Chambers, an early steel-framed building with an elaborate terra-cotta front, was erected on the site. (fn. 29)
In Ironmarket rather more than half the buildings are of the Georgian period. Most of these date from the end of the 18th century and have plain brick frontages of two or three stories. Many have the characteristic stone window lintels of the district, either with fluted keystones or with their moulded heads stepped up in the centre. There is less uniformity in High Street which contains a higher proportion of older buildings and where more reconstruction took place in the late 19th and the 20th centuries. Apart from the coaching inns there are several imposing late-18th-century houses. A good example is the building standing immediately south of the former 'Roebuck'. This has a brick front of three stories with a dentil cornice, a central pediment, and stone dressings to the windows. A later shop-front occupies the ground floor. A tall brick house on the east side of the former Penkhull Street was considerably altered when it became the National Provincial Bank early in the present century. It was originally known as 'Steps', the first house on the site being built by John Fenton in 1700–2. (fn. 30) The present building was a reconstruction by Thomas Fletcher soon after 1784. (fn. 31) Nos. 5 and 7 High Street (formerly 12 and 14 Bridge Street) have rainwater heads dated 1747 with initials 'i.b.' Modern shops have been inserted on the ground floor but the two upper stories are unaltered and the parapet retains four stone vases. Two other houses near the centre of the town have dated rainwater heads. The first, Bank House in the lower part of Bridge Street (1752), is a square detached brick house, now empty and derelict, said to have been the home of William Willett (d. 1778), a noted Unitarian minister and brother-in-law of Josiah Wedgwood. (fn. 32) The second, the Hawthorns in Merrial Street (1769 with initials 'W.B.'), has been occupied since c. 1874 by the Conservative Club, (fn. 33) together with the slightly later house adjoining it. Other 18th-century buildings in the town include the Unitarian Meeting House north-west of St. Giles's Church (1717), (fn. 34) the former Wesleyan Chapel above Lower Street (1790), (fn. 35) and the Albemarle Almshouses in Bridge Street (1743). (fn. 36)
The draining of The Marsh in the late 18th century was followed by development at the east end of Ironmarket, (fn. 37) and a rather hesitant attempt was made to provide a formal layout where the six roads radiate from Nelson Place. In 1787–8 the Royal Theatre was built by John Pepper (fn. 38) in the segment between King Street and Brunswick Street. (fn. 39) The building was converted into a cinema in 1910 (fn. 40) and is now unused, but the remnants of a good frontage to Nelson Place can still (1960) be distinguished. This has a treatment of recessed panels and a central pedimented gable, flanked by ball finials. It bears a relief medallion of Shakespeare which has been attributed to John Flaxman. (fn. 41) A house of c. 1800 with an impressive stucco front of five bays (now the borough treasurer's office) faces Nelson Place between Barracks Road and Ironmarket. In the tympanum of its central pediment is a niche containing a portrait bust of Lord Nelson. The segment between King Street and Queen Street is occupied by a three-storied red-brick terrace of early-19th-century houses and there are some dignified buildings of this date or a little earlier at the lower ends of both Queen Street and King Street. In particular no. 6 Queen Street (Public Health Dept.) has two good pedimented doorways, the more elaborate having Ionic columns and an enriched frieze with a pictorial panel in the centre. North of this is Brampton House, a square detached brick building of the early 19th century. On the north side of Ironmarket, between the Municipal Buildings and Nelson Place, are some well-designed early- and mid-19th-century brick frontages. The large detached houses on the high ground beyond Nelson Place date mostly from the mid- and late 19th century. Many are Italianate in style and there are several Gothic examples from the later period. On the west side of the town Thistleberry House, occupied in the 19th century by the Mayer family, was demolished c. 1955. (fn. 42) A threestoried brick tower in the grounds, erected by Samuel Mayer (d. 1838), was already ruinous by 1911 and the statuary and shell decorations which it contained had been mutilated. (fn. 43)
The chief public building is the Guildhall standing on an island site in the middle of the High Street. It was built shortly after November 1713 when the borough council decided to demolish the earlier hall, (fn. 44) which in the early 17th century seems to have been to the north of the present Guildhall. (fn. 45) In its original form it was a two-storied rectangular brick structure with a hipped roof and an external treatment of stone pilasters, surmounted by a cornice and a balustraded parapet. The upper story was carried partly on open round brick arches, four on the long and two on the short sides, and partly on three central pillars. (fn. 46) The space thus provided on the ground floor, approached at the south end by a flight of steps, was used as a provision market (fn. 47) until the covered market was built in Friars' Street in the mid-19th century. (fn. 48) Originally, too, in the centre of the roof there was a weatherboarded turret surmounted by a gilded globe and a weather vane. (fn. 49) About 1830 this arrangement was altered by the erection of a clock-tower containing two transparent dials, which were first lit by gas in 1833. (fn. 50) On top of the clock-tower slender pillars supported a cupola on which rested the globe and vane. (fn. 51) Until 1860 the upper room, which contains portraits of local celebrities, was used for meetings of the borough council and its committees, for Quarter Sessions courts, and also for public assemblies. (fn. 52) The full council still (1959) meets there. In 1860–2 the building was much altered in order to increase the accommodation and to provide a new courtroom. (fn. 53) The ground-floor arches were bricked in and a semicircular addition was made to the north end of the hall. At the same time the balustraded parapet was altered, the roof cupola and clock were removed, while at the south entrance a high pillared portico was built surmounted by a tower and fourdialled clock, the gift of J. A. Hall, a former mayor. (fn. 54) Near this entrance the old stocks are said to have stood. (fn. 55) In 1877 a small room was built over the vestibule (fn. 56) and is now (1959) used as the mayor's parlour.
The Municipal Buildings (or Hall) in Ironmarket were built as a Golden Jubilee memorial in 188890, (fn. 57) to satisfy a long-standing demand for a large public hall. (fn. 58) The expanding town had outgrown the accommodation of the Guildhall, which in any case after 1862 (fn. 59) was needed entirely for municipal purposes. The building covers the site of a house which in the early 18th century had been occupied by the Ford family, (fn. 60) one of whom, John, is said to have been a counsel defending Lord Lovat (fn. 61) (d. 1746) (fn. 62) at his trial. Subsequently, as no. 45 Ironmarket, Ambrose Astle, a surgeon, long lived in it. (fn. 63) It then passed successively to Arthur Leech, member of a well-known Newcastle family in the 1870's who renamed it Arlington House, (fn. 64) and to W. S. Allen, M.P. for Newcastle, who sold it to the corporation in 1887. (fn. 65) Designed in the 'Flemish' style by Sugden & Sons of Leek, J. Blood of Newcastle, and Snape & Chapman of Newcastle, (fn. 66) the lofty building is of red brick with stone dressings, with an adjacent clocktower. The Ironmarket façade is adorned with lifesize figures emblematic of architecture, painting, music, and literature. (fn. 67) Two rainwater heads, inscribed 'H.F. 1724', taken from Arlington House, have been built into the wall. (fn. 68) The ground floor contains a 'council chamber', originally designed for meetings of the borough council, (fn. 69) and the School of Art, (fn. 70) which in 1958 moved from the basement into the quarters evacuated by the public library. (fn. 71) In the large hall on the first floor are hung eighteen shields of arms of families associated with the borough, including those of Lord Cadman and Lord Wedgwood. The building also contains a tablet commemorating Samuel Mayer (d. 1838), mayor in 1833, removed from the Mayer Gallery, Bebington (Ches.), in 1892, (fn. 72) and a marble bust by Matthew Noble of George Granville, Duke of Sutherland (d. 1861), erected at Wall Grange Waterworks in 1863 and removed here in 1935. (fn. 73)
The Militia Barracks in Barracks Road off Hassell Street was built in 1855. (fn. 74) The buildings are of dark red brick and are arranged round four sides of a courtyard. The front range, facing the street, is of two stories with a three-story tower at each angle. The windows have stone mullions and round-headed lights. The central archway, leading to the courtyard, is surmounted by a small machicolated turret. Until 1880 the barracks was the headquarters of the 3rd King's Own Staffordshire Rifle Regiment which assembled annually at Newcastle for training. (fn. 75) In 1882 the building was bought by W. H. Dalton, a major in the Staffordshire Rangers Volunteers, (fn. 76) and was settled in trust for use by the Rifle Volunteers of Newcastle. (fn. 77) In 1907 the Volunteers were replaced by the Territorial Force and in 1925 the corporation became trustees. (fn. 78) During the Second World War the premises were let and in 1952 a scheme, known as the Barracks Trust, was drawn up whereby the barracks was to be used by the Territorial Army as required; otherwise it was to be used or let by the corporation for the benefit of the borough. (fn. 79) Part of the building is now (1959) occupied by Remploy Ltd.
The Covered Market, designed by R. Chapman of Newcastle, (fn. 80) was built in 1853–4 on the site of the Crown Inn and some small cottages. (fn. 81) Its principal front was in Penkhull Street (since 1954 incorporated in High Street) (fn. 82) and the building extended down the steep incline of Friars' Street in three divisions separated by flights of steps. It is built in the 'Tudor' style of red brick, chequered with blue, and has dressings of Hollington stone. The front building, or first division, is of three stories and is surrounded by a castellated parapet. The ground floor is occupied by two shops and between them is the entrance to the market proper; the first and second floors are occupied by offices. (fn. 83) The first and second divisions are still (1960) used, (fn. 84) but the third, approached from Friars' Street by a cart entrance, (fn. 85) did not long persist. It was subsequently used as a riding school and by c. 1930 had been converted into a rollerskating rink. (fn. 86) It is now (1960) a corporation garage.
The medieval market cross was restored in 1579 by Randle Bagnall, mayor. (fn. 87) During the Interregnum banns of marriage were proclaimed at the market cross (fn. 88) and the Wolstanton Parish Register records the publishing of banns there on three successive market days. (fn. 89) In 1691 it stood in the centre of High Street, opposite the end of Ironmarket, (fn. 90) probably on its original site. By 1820 the five circular stone steps forming the base of the cross had been moved to the north end of the Guildhall, and in that year a lamp standard was erected above them. (fn. 91) This consists of a Roman Doric column, raised on a square pedestal and surmounted by a wrought-iron bracket carrying two lamps.
The Weights and Measures Office, a small octagonal stone structure of one story, was erected in High Street to the south of the Guildhall in 1835. (fn. 92) It had a low-pitched octagonal roof surmounted by a lamp. Its erection involved the removal of a stone pillar from the site to the centre of Red Lion Square. (fn. 93) By 1877 the building itself had been removed to Red Lion Square (fn. 94) but in 1926 it was demolished. (fn. 95) The Weights and Measures Office is now (1960) at 22 High Street.
A bronze statue of Queen Victoria stands in front of the former Royal Theatre in Nelson Place. It was presented by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam, M.P. (mayor of the borough) and unveiled by Grand Duke Michael of Russia in 1903. (fn. 96)
The New Castle below the elm forest (fn. 97) on the border between Cheshire and Staffordshire seems to have been originally a royal castle and included in the royal manor of Trentham. (fn. 98) Evidence for the close association between Newcastle and Trentham is found in the Worcestershire Pipe Roll of 1154–5 where William de Beauchamp as sheriff accounts for £15 as the farm of Newcastle for a half-year and in the following year for £30 as the farm of Trentham, suggesting that Newcastle was then included in the vill of Trentham. (fn. 99) Moreover, a Trentham Priory charter of 1162 refers to quid(am) viculus Novi Castelli qui est de territorio parochie de Trentham. (fn. 100) The date of the construction of the castle and the reason for the appellation 'new' are not precisely known. The earliest evidence of its existence is contained in a charter of Stephen, assigned to the year 1149, (fn. 101) in which the king granted to Ranulf de Gernon, Earl of Chester, among other lands and lordships, the novum castellum de Staffordshira with all its appurtenances (fn. 102) and it is reasonable to surmise, therefore, that a castle existed in the early 12th century. The reference in this charter to the new castle of Staffordshire has led one authority to put forward the view that the castle was built to replace, as the seat of royal power in the county, the castle at Stafford which by the middle of the 12th century had declined in strength and military importance. (fn. 103) Another theory assumes the existence of an older castle, of which there is some slight archaeological evidence, in Trentham itself and its replacement, possibly for strategic reasons, by a new stronghold some three miles to the north-west. (fn. 104)
The Earl of Chester's possessions were confirmed to him by Henry son of the Empress in the 'Treaty of Devizes' of 1153, (fn. 105) but Ranulf died the same year, leaving a son Hugh, a minor. (fn. 106) After Ranulf's death the castle appears to have remained with the Crown for many years. (fn. 107) In 1190–3 it was held by the sheriff ut custos. (fn. 108) In 1215 King John conferred it with the manor on Ranulf de Blundeville, Earl of Chester, Hugh's son, in tail, to be held as 1 knight's fee. (fn. 109) After the earl's death without issue in 1232, (fn. 110) the castle and manor were granted in fee-farm in the same year to Gilbert de Segrave at £20 yearly. (fn. 111) In June 1234 Gilbert's father, Stephen de Segrave, was directed to ensure that his son surrendered them because they were necessary for the 'march' between England and Wales and the land of Chester. (fn. 112) In the following month the king appointed Adam Esturmy as keeper of the castle. (fn. 113) In 1238 the castle and manor were granted to Henry de Audley at a yearly rent of £68 18s. 2½d., (fn. 114) after an inquiry into their value conducted in the same year. (fn. 115) On Henry's death in 1246 the keepership was granted to Hugh de Frodsham, a king's serjeant, (fn. 116) who in 1250 was directed to hand over the town and castle to James de Audley to be farmed yearly at £80. (fn. 117) In 1264 the king and his eldest son Edward granted Newcastle, (fn. 118) among other manors, to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, the grant being confirmed on 20 March 1265, (fn. 119) but on 4 August following the earl was killed at Evesham. (fn. 120)
Newcastle, including presumably the castle and manor, was granted by Henry III in 1267 to his younger son Edmund, created Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 121) Thomas, son of Earl Edmund, succeeded to the castle and manor in 1296, but was executed for treason on 22 March 1322. (fn. 122) His widow, Alice, daughter of the Earl of Lincoln, thereupon received the manor, castle, and borough in dower, (fn. 123) which she held until her death in 1348. (fn. 124) Henry, Earl of Lancaster (created Duke in 1351), (fn. 125) succeeded and when he died in 1361 (fn. 126) his numerous possessions were partitioned between his two daughters, the elder, Maud, wife of William, Duke of Bavaria, receiving inter alia the castle and manor (fn. 127) at a yearly rent of £86 13s. 4d. (fn. 128) After Maud's death in 1362, (fn. 129) her estates passed to her sister Blanche, the wife of John of Gaunt, who held them in right of his wife until his death in 1399. (fn. 130) In 1361 or 1362 the estate was leased to Sir Godfrey Foljambe for life at £127 yearly, with provision for a reduction by £7 if the issues did not amount to that sum, and for a further reduction if the tenants of the mills withheld their farm. Foljambe was to maintain the buildings and received an allowance of timber for so doing. (fn. 131) The lease was surrendered in 1374, and Foljambe, who died two years later, (fn. 132) was compensated with a pension of £40 out of the issues. (fn. 133)
With the accession of Henry IV the importance of the castle as a royal stronghold seems to have progressively diminished. Its situation on low-lying ground surrounded by hilly country had rendered it peculiarly vulnerable to the new methods of siege made possible by the invention of gunpowder and the development of artillery. Moreover, during this period Tutbury castle seems to have been the principal seat of Lancastrian power in the county. The result was that the military importance of Newcastle, and consequentially expenditure on its upkeep, declined. (fn. 134) With the advent of the Tudors, neglect led rapidly to the deterioration and ultimate destruction of the fabric, so much so that when Leland passed through Newcastle about 1541 he recorded that 'al the castel is doune save one great toure'. (fn. 135)
Constables of the castle met with during the medieval period include Hugh de Cha(r)nia, 1250; (fn. 136) Hugh de Frodsham, 1251; (fn. 137) William de Fenton, 1253; (fn. 138) Richard Aubyn, Robert le Venur, Adam de Lavendene (all temp. Edward I); (fn. 139) Roger de Tissington, 1318; (fn. 140) Stephen de Yrton, 1342; (fn. 141) John de Rocheford, 1356; (fn. 142) Walter de Staunton, 1374; (fn. 143) Oliver de Barton, 1374 (also steward of Newcastle); (fn. 144) Sir John Blount, 1408(also steward); (fn. 145) John Kyngeley, 1420; Robert Whitgreve, 1438; Edward Ellesmere, 1447; Ralph Wolseley, 1461; Hugh Eggerton, 1474; Sir John Savage, the younger, 1485. (fn. 146)
At some unknown but very early date the defence of the castle had been entrusted to a group of serjeants, originally described as the king's sokemen, whose service was secured upon lands in (i) Knutton with Dimsdale, Hanchurch, Clayton, Hanford, and Whitmore, (ii) Hanley, (iii) Longton, (iv) Fenton, (v) Tunstall with Chatterley and Normacot, and (vi) Bradwell with Thursfield. (fn. 147) When the service was recorded in 1236, the tenants of (i)-(iv) were expected to render 40 days' service at the king's cost, and the tenant of (v) and (vi) to provide a bowman for eight days in wartime at his own cost. (fn. 148) The service due on (v) and (vi), except the Bradwell portion of it, is not traceable after 1236 and it was expressly declared in 1251 that Henry de Audley abolished the service arising in Normacot, (fn. 149) the vill he had acquired at least by 1227. (fn. 150) The service arising in Longton is last mentioned in 1251–2, (fn. 151) in Clayton and Knutton in 1254–5, (fn. 152) in Hanley in 1297, (fn. 153) and in Bradwell in 1322. (fn. 154) The Longton, Hanley, and Bradwell tenants were said in these respective years to be required to maintain armed men for 40 days at their own expense, obligations the statement of which differs in certain respects from those of 1236. The Knutton tenant was to provide an armed horseman. It may be doubted whether these services were practically enforceable by the time they came to be recorded.
From at least 1166 until at least 1215 the core of the effective garrison consisted of a body of armed serjeants in receipt of yearly wages. Paid until 1190 out of the issues of Trentham (fn. 155) and thenceforth out of the corpus comitatus, (fn. 156) this militia acted from 1191 as serjeants of the peace, or, as the Pipe Rolls put it, ad custodiam patrie pro malefactoribus. (fn. 157) In the troubled year 1172–3 these serjeants were reinforced by 5 knights and 20 serjeants for 19 weeks and in addition the sheriff claimed £13 6s. 8d. in auxilio tenendi milites et servientes in Novo Castello. (fn. 158) In the following year 5 knights, 6 mounted serjeants, and 10 foot-serjeants were maintained in the castle for 134 days. (fn. 159) When after 1190 the old corps of serjeants was expressly assigned police duties, reinforcement was resumed and knights were again residing in the castle. (fn. 160) In 1192 ten mounted serjeants were paid for the whole year, but their connexion with Newcastle is not stated specifically. (fn. 161) In 1192–3 5 knights, 15 mounted serjeants, and 30 foot-serjeants guarded the castle for 40 days, (fn. 162) and in 1195–6 10 knights and 18 mounted serjeants for 24 days. (fn. 163) In the same year a body of 180 footmen was hired, 9 of whom (or 1 in 20) were 'magistri', receiving 4d. a day each, and the rest 2d. a day. (fn. 164) The knights retained in the king's service in 1197 may have had no connexion with Newcastle, though the sum allowed for maintenance would have paid for 5 knights for 40 days at the rates of 1193. (fn. 165)
The castle enclosure was oval, the long axis pointing roughly NW.—SE. with the mound at its southern end. The various streams that flowed past the site were dammed in early times to form the castle pool which was the principal means of defence. In 1171 as much as £37 was spent upon the castle pool (fn. 166) and since in 1169 £6 was spent upon a bridge (fn. 167) it is not fanciful to conclude that the pool was being constructed or substantially reconstructed at that time. These payments are in fact the first that are known to have been made by the sheriff for the benefit of the castle. Other payments made in the late 12th and early 13th centuries give indications, often imprecise, of the nature and extent of the fortifications. The building of two 'houses' is mentioned in 1174 (fn. 168) and in 1189–90 considerable expenditure is recorded on 'bretasches' (or wooden platforms) for the defence of the castle walls (fn. 169) and on wooden palisades which presumably surrounded the bailey. (fn. 170) Remains of such palisades were discovered in 1935 in the north-west part of the bailey. (fn. 171) In 1191 repairs were done to the chapel and the king's 'houses' (fn. 172) while in the following year the stone tower, which stood on the mound, and the bridge were repaired, (fn. 173) the latter in 1193 being embattled (kernelando) with stone. (fn. 174) In 1933–4 drainage work in Silverdale Road revealed masonry and stout oak balks, which, conjecturally, formed part of the bridge connecting the causeway across the pool and spanning the Ashfield Brook. (fn. 175) In 1934 excavation brought to light in the south-western part of the bailey the foundations of two rooms of a long rectangular building with walls up to 3 feet in height, which, from the kitchen refuse found there, (fn. 176) were presumably the castle kitchens, repairs to which are mentioned in 1192. (fn. 177)
The importance of the pool in the defence scheme is again shown by the expenditure on its repair in 1194 of the considerable sum of £4 17s. (fn. 178) and of an unspecified sum three years later. (fn. 179) The maintenance of the bridge, further repairs to which are mentioned in 1196, (fn. 180) was no doubt of vital importance as it was the connecting link between the castle and the mainland. The king's 'houses' were repaired in 1194, 1195, and 1197. (fn. 181) The work carried out in the 1190's was partly, no doubt, to meet the needs of the larger garrison instituted in that decade (see above).
During John's reign work on the castle substantially increased. In 1199 the gaol, which was presumably situated within the castle precinct, is mentioned for the first time, in conjunction with the one at Stafford, both being repaired at a total cost of 25s., (fn. 182) while general works on the castle came to £9 10s. (fn. 183) In 1200 the gaol was further repaired, as also was the pool (vivarium). (fn. 184) A sum of £5 was spent on the gaol in 1201 and £11 on general works. (fn. 185) Expenditure in 1202 on the bridge, the 'bretasches', a chamber, the mill, and the mill-pond reached the considerable figure of £24 3s. 4d. (fn. 186) In 1203 the king's 'houses', mills, and mill-ponds were repaired at a cost of £14 16s., as also were the gaol and the bridge. (fn. 187) In the following year the cost of general works at the castle amounted to £37 and the gaol was again repaired as it was also during 1206. (fn. 188) In the later year £54 6s. 9d. was spent on unspecified general work. (fn. 189)
In March 1206 King John was at Newcastle (fn. 190) and the large expenditure on maintenance and repair about this time may reflect his personal interest in the upkeep of the castle. Possibly as a result of the royal visit expenditure on general works rose considerably in 1207 (£40), (fn. 191) 1208 (£20), (fn. 192) 1209 (£10, which included the repair of a gaol) (fn. 193) and 1214 (£5), while in the last-mentioned year money was spent on repairing the gaol again. (fn. 194) Some part of this general expenditure was probably allotted to the repair and maintenance of the gateway, which presumably stood to the north of the bridge on the landward side of the pool. In 1935 excavation in the garden of John of Gaunt's Cottage near Silverdale Road, where masonry and timber balks had been found in the previous year (see above), brought to light the end of the outer gateway, including the base of a large corner buttress. South of this and in continuation at a higher level a length of solid wall 6 feet thick was partially uncovered. (fn. 195)
In 1239 the constable of the castle was authorized to spend £10 in repairing the bank (kaii) of the king's mill-pond there, (fn. 196) and to repair the king's 'houses'. (fn. 197) In 1251 Hugh de Frodsham was allowed £15 2s. 3d. spent during his keepership (1246–50) in repairing the palisades round the castle, as well as the bridge, the mill-pond, and the 'bretasches'. (fn. 198) In 1251 James de Audley was authorized to spend £20 where it was most needed in repairs to the castle (fn. 199) and two years later he was commissioned to repair the castle pool. (fn. 200) The latter probably refers to palisading round the pool, which was again repaired in 1253. (fn. 201)
In the 14th and 15th centuries expenditure, much of it domiciliary in character, on the maintenance of the fabric seems to have dwindled considerably. In 1374 the constable was ordered to put the houses within the castle in as good a condition as when Maud had leased the manor and castle to Sir Godfrey de Foljambe thirteen years earlier. (fn. 202) In the same year John of Gaunt arranged for the sale of twenty oaks from the wood of Newcastle-under-Lyme to provide money for repairs to the castle. (fn. 203) The cost of repairs to the castle and its 'houses' was estimated at 100 marks in 1375, (fn. 204) and about the same time timber was granted for making 10,000 shingles as roofing material for the 'houses' within the castle. (fn. 205) In 1387 £3 2s. 1d. was spent in making windows for the entrance gates and repairs to three halls. (fn. 206)
In 1399, (fn. 207) 1423, (fn. 208) and 1451 (fn. 209) the castle bridge was under repair. In 1428 £8 11s. 4d. was expended on a passage from the north part of the hall up to the kitchen, a new chimney for the lower room under the principal one, repairs to a 'house', and lead to cover the tower next the gates. (fn. 210) In the following year wages amounting to £3 19s. were paid for making the new great gates. (fn. 211) In 1446 the palisades of the pinfold, situated near the bridge, and the entrance gates were repaired. (fn. 212) In 1477 repairs to the pool cost £3 15s. 10d. (fn. 213) while in 1478 (fn. 214) and 1480 (fn. 215) a total sum of £1 5s. 6d. was spent on repairs to the pinfold. It will be noted that for the second half of the century expenditure on the main building seems to have ceased, and so it is not surprising that when Leland visited the site a hundred years later his report should have been as brief and negative as it was. (fn. 216)
In 1610 the castle, then 'altogether decayed', was leased to Ralph Sneyd for 21 years. (fn. 217) In 1650 his grandson Ralph was the lessee at a nominal rent. (fn. 218) In 1698 another Ralph Sneyd sublet the castle, lately occupied by Thomas Hemmings, to John Walley, a blacksmith of Newcastle, for 21 years for £1 yearly. (fn. 219) This lease, however, does not seem to have been in force for the full period, for in the time of Queen Anne the site was leased to William Burslem (d. 1716). In 1723 his son Thomas let the site to Samuel Proctor at £1 15s. yearly, the lessor retaining the right to shoot over the ground and to fish in the castle pool. (fn. 220) Thereafter, for about a century, the mound, the adjoining bailey, and the pool probably remained undisturbed, the haunt of the fisherman and the fowler.
In 1828 Walter Sneyd of Keele bought the site from the duchy for £170. (fn. 221) He is stated to have reclaimed the greater portion of the pool (i.e. more than 30 acres) from the influx of the stream, so that by 1843 it had been 'by embanking and draining converted, from a stagnant and offensive morass, which it had become, into good garden and meadow land'. (fn. 222) Whatever portion of the original pool was left after the reclamation seems to have been neglected, for in 1849 the local Improvement Commissioners requested Ralph Sneyd to see to the cleansing of the pool, for which he was alleged to be responsible. (fn. 223)
In 1855 (fn. 224) the erection of the Castle Hill Iron Foundry to the north-west of the mound resulted in considerable disturbance of the whole site. The levelling of the ground to the south-east of what was formerly a section of the bailey led to the destruction of a part of the castle walls, the stones of which were used as a foundation for a brick wall round the foundry enclosure. (fn. 225) Subsequently the erection of a laundry immediately to the north of the mound and of a dye-works to the north-west effectively sealed off that area from any future archaeological investigation.
By 1935 (fn. 226) the site of the castle and the land covering the area of the pool had been acquired by the corporation, presumably from the Sneyd family. In 1939 it was decided to convert the site into a public park (fn. 227) and to synchronize its opening with the 350th anniversary of the grant of the 1590 charter. (fn. 228) At the time complaint was made that part of the castle mound was being used as material for levelling the site of the proposed park. (fn. 229) Owing to the war the completion of the work was delayed and it was not until 1944 that the Queen Elizabeth Garden, comprising bowling and putting greens, was formally opened to the public. (fn. 230)