Newcastle-under-Lyme - Encyclopedia

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Newcastle-under-Lyme, a market town and municipal and parliamentary borough of Staffordshire, England, 2 m. W. of Stoke-upon-Trent by the North Staffordshire railway. Pop. (1901) 19,914. The parish church of St Giles was rebuilt in1873-1876by Sir Gilbert Scott, with the exception of the tower, which dates from the 12th century. The free grammar school, originally founded in 1602, possesses large endowments, increased by the amalgamation of various subsequent bequests for educational purposes, and now consists of high and middle schools for boys and Orme's school for girls. There is also a school of art included with a free library in handsome municipal buildings. The manufacture of hats was once the staple trade, but it has declined. There are cotton and paper mills; and tanning, brewing, malting and the manufacture of army clothing are carried on. In the neighbourhood there are large collieries, as at Silverdale and elsewhere. Partly included in the parliamentary borough is the populous parish of Wolstanton, of which the fine church, well placed on high ground, has good details of the 13th century, with a massive tower and spire. The mining town of Audley lies 4. m. N.W., with a fine early Decorated church. Newcastle-under-Lyme is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 671 acres.

Newcastle-under-Lyme (Neofchastell-sur-Lyme, Newcastleunder-Lyme) is not mentioned in Domesday, but it must early have become a place of importance, for a charter, known only through a reference in a charter to Preston, was given to the town by Henry II. The town owes its name to a castle built ,here in the 12th century to supersede an older fortress at Chesterton about 2 m. to the north, of which the ruins were to be seen in the 16th century, and to the fact that it was situated under the forest of Lyme. Henry III. (1235) constituted it a free borough, granting a gild merchant and other privileges; in 1251 he leased it at fee-farm to the burgesses; the governing charter in 1835 was that of 1590 enlarged by that of 1664, under which the title of the corporation was the "mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of Newcastle-under-Lyme." Newcastle, which was originally held by the crown, was granted (1265) to Simon de Montfort, and subsequently to Edmund Crouchback, through whom it passed to Henry IV. In Leland's time the castle had disappeared "save one great Toure"; in the 17th and 18th centuries the town was flourishing and had a manufacture of hats. The market was originally held on Sunday; in the reign of John it was changed to Saturday; by the charter of Elizabeth it was fixed on Monday. Markets are now held on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Grants of fairs were given by Edward I., Edward III. and Henry VI. Up to the time of the passing of the Municipal Reform Act the farce of electing a mock mayor was gone through annually after the election of the real mayor. Newcastle sent two members to parliament from 1355 to 1885, when it lost one representative.

See Victoria County History, Stafford; T. I ngamells, Historical Records and Directory of Newcastle-under-Lyme.

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