The Queen's Sconce is an English Civil War Star Fort constructed in 1644 as part of the Royalist defence works surrounding the town of Newark.
As part of our weekend away at Wargames Foundry and Partizan a group of us decided to head out from Lincoln on Sunday morning to visit the sconce before heading off to the show.
Sconce and Devon Park
The Sunday was a perfect day to head down to the suitably named Devon Park, named after the River Devon that flows close by rather than our home county, as the torrential rain on Saturday had given way to sunshine.
The town of Newark was strategically important for its position astride the crossroads of the Great North Road and the Fosse Way that ran north-south and east-west through the English countryside and was also a key local centre for bread making and the production of gunpowder.
The importance of the town is certainly reflected in the scale of this defence work which catches the eye immediately on entering the park
Named after Queen Henrietta, the sconce was built on high ground south of the town perfectly situated to cover the approaches via the Fosse Way over the crossing of the River Devon and also preventing the ground to be used by attacking Parliamentary forces intent on bombarding the town.
|The map shows the layout of the defences surrounding Newark with the Queen's Sconce on the south side and the intersecting roads passing through the town.|
The earth ramparts and ditch still present a formidable obstacle despite their gradual erosion over the intervening centuries and are easily visualised steeper and deeper with projecting wooden stakes designed to impede any attempt at assault.
Perfectly designed to soak up or deflect round shot whilst providing vantage points for internal artillery and musket fire able to enfilade any attacking infantry the whole earthwork covers an area of slightly more than three acres with a thirty foot wide ditch up to fifteen feet deep.
|The interior of the sconce viewed from the eastern rampart|
|View from the eastern rampart looking towards the northern bastion|
|The eastern bastion with the spire of the church in Newark visible on the centre right horizon|
|This view from the top of the rampart gives a good impression of how steep the sides are and were back in 1644|
|The map used above positioned in the eastern bastion proved a useful reference check as to how the sconce fitted in to the town defences|
|The northern ditch facing towards the town|
|The western ditch from the top of the ramparts possibly where the timber drawbridge allowed access|
|The interior area would have originally housed the garrison quarters and magazine|
The surrender of Newark is seen as the effective end of the First Civil War.
|The southern rampart and ditch here and below face out towards the southern approaches and the Fosse Way crossing of the River Devon|
As with most Royalist supporting strongholds that caused Parliament the most problems their defences were very often ordered destroyed so as to prevent any further problems thereafter, and Newark was not exempt with the defences of the town ordered to be destroyed.
However we have the plague to thank for the survival of the Queen's Sconce as, with the Scottish army keen to head back north with their Royal captive and the Parliamentary troops keen to be away from the source of the outbreak, it was the few villagers and townsfolk who were left that had to carry out the dismantling of the defences.
Much reduced themselves in numbers by the losses suffered during the siege and by the subsequent plague there were very few people around to carry out the orders and we have been left the finest example of English Civil War fortifications to survive in the country.
|The plaque reads - The Royalist Cannon by Michael Condron commemorating Newark's role in the Civil War 2012 AD|
Sources consulted for this post: