St Mary Magdalene


The main churchyard appears to have been to the north of the church. The charter of Henry II, of between 1154 and 1169, mentions the ‘house with the land on the northeast of the Mother Church of Newark’ and later charters make it clear that the vicarage lay to the north of the churchyard.

In 1349 Newark suffered greatly from the plague like the rest of the country, and it was necessary to enclose an extra piece of land in Appletongate. A licence was granted for the dedication of the churchyard on 5th May 1349. Whether this is to be identified with the whole of the area between the east end of the church and Appletongate and bounded now by the Church Walks is not certain. In 1605, according to the Corporation Records, those who died in the current outbreak of plague were to be buried ‘near the wall towards Appletongate’.

There were various buildings in or on the edge of the churchyard, at different times. In 1293 Henry de Newark built a chapel dedicated to St Katherine and St Martha, which only lasted until 1312 when it was knocked down and its materials used towards building the south aisle of the church. It is not clear from the documents where this chapel was located. The discovery of three skeletons (probably from medieval times) under the area to the south of the church in 1995, may indicate that there was once a graveyard there, in which case the chapel may have been near the site of the ‘new’ south aisle.

By the end of the eighteenth century the churchyard was becoming very overcrowded and it was decided to take steps towards its enlargement. An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1773 for the sale of some of the charity estates to enable the building of the Town Hall and Shambles and for the enlarging of the churchyard. As a result £200 was given for the purchase of thirty-seven perches of the glebe belonging to the Vicar and let as gardens, for the enlarging of the churchyard. This was probably the land to the east of the Vicarage. This area is recorded as part of the churchyard in W Attenburrow’s map of 1790. By 1818 it was decided that the churchyard required further extension so the Vicarage was demolished and the land added to the churchyard. In exchange the house in Appletongate, opposite the east end of the church, was purchased for a Vicarage. The north churchyard ceased to be used for burials in 1856 because it was again ‘full to capacity’ and the Borough cemetery was opened on London Road.

In 1905 the north churchyard was laid out for public use.

The east churchyard found a new rô1e in the twentieth century: in 1919 it was chosen as the site for the town’s memorial to those who died in the Great War.

In 1950 the north churchyard was transformed into a Garden of Rest, opened by Dr CF Garbett, Archbishop of York, on 26th June.

Plan of the churchyard
in 1896
The north churchyard
as it now is,
looking north-west
Part of the north churchyard
and north transept
The east churchyard with
the War Memorial,
showing the east face
of the church