On a very cool Sunday afternoon, 20th October 2002, Mrs Marjorie Clay Dove uncovered this plaque in the presence of the Town Mayor, Councillor Peter Foster and the Mayoress, and Councillor Ken Fletcher, Vice Chairman of the District Council and Mrs Fletcher. Other past mayors were present, some of whom had contributed to the cost of the plaque. The Society’s Chairman, Mr Mike Cox, welcomed everyone.
Mr Vernon Radcliffe MBE told those present that the word ‘Alderman’ was the title of the chief citizen of the town following from its incorporation in 1549, and continued until the grant of the Charter by King Charles I in 1626. The Alderman had twelve Assistants, and over time their power and duties were increased.
There had been attempts at street paving in 1328 to 1335, under posers granted to the Bishop of Lincoln, and paid for by tolls. However, following from the Parliamentary Act of 1585, paving commenced, and proceeded slowly. By 1621 (we read) there was a ‘causeway’ six feet wide extending from the house at the west corner of the Market Place, later occupied by Alderman Hercules Clay (who died in office) to Church Lane, leading to the South Porch of the Parish Church.
At this time there was a market Cross, with a gaol, in the centre of the Market Place and near where the causeway passed it were carved ‘HW 1619’: the initials being those of Henry Webster, Alderman in 1603 and 1613.
The 1620s were an interesting time. In 1617, the Vicar, the Reverend William Mason, had given the Wand ceremoniously carried by the Mayor today. He had preached before King James I in 1622, who was to die in 1625. The Scottish nobles would have passed through the town to and from the funeral. Then came the Charter of 1626, creating the Borough. There are no Aldermen of the Borough of Newark alive today. (see footnote)
With the resurfacing of the Market Place, the causeway has been marked with domed studs. The Society thanked Mr Stuart Squires, lately the Conservation Officer, and Mr John Perkins, both of the District Council, for their interest and invaluable help in this project.
(This article appeared in the NALHS Newsletter 145 dated November 2002, and was written by Vernon Radcliffe)
(Created by the election of councillors under posers granted under the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.)