NewsLinksSitemapContact us


A History of Newtownards

Trevor McCavery

Prodigally built in warm, mellow sandstone, picturesquely sited at the head of Strangford Lough, the ancient town of Newtown (pronounced Newton) has a history to match the promise of its setting.

This lavish, colour-illustrated volume, published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the granting of the town's borough charter, looks at Newtown in all its guises. It delves into its enigmatic prehistory. It charts the rise of the great Celtic monastery of Movilla. It recreates the flourishing Norman town, given away as a wedding present. It tells the story of the plantation, when the local language became 'broad Scotch hardly to be understood by strangers'. It looks at the eighteenth century, when Newtown was one of the worst of the notorious 'rotten boroughs', and the seat of a bitter dynastic conflict. It explores the Regency town with its broad streets and fashionable villas, behind which lay fever-ridden backalleys and the poorhouse. It follows Newtown's journey though the Famine, two World Wars and the Troubles, to the brave new, post-conflict world of pell-mell sprawl and Castlebawn.

On the way, Dr McCavery unravels the complexities behind the town's celebrated Presbyterian and Unionist allegiances, in the process rediscovering Newtown's vigorous, long-buried radical liberal tradition, which its aristocratic landlords, the Londonderrys, first cultivated then lived uneasily alongside.

Ards Borough Council Logo
Published with financial assistance from Ards Borough Council

Book Details

ISBN 978 1 870132 46 6

Gatefold paperback 224 pages, 133 illustrations (73 colour)

Book Reviews

'sure footed and eloquent... with a carefully chosen and well reproduced selection of illustrations. It made me want to take a wander round Newtownards' Belfast News Letter

'Beautifully illustrated... an essential book for anyone interested in the history of Newtownards' Ulster Archaeological Society News Letter

'A fascinating story, lucidly told.' Belfast Telegraph

"Expertly weaves educated supposition with historical record... the go-to reference work for anyone interested in the origins and evolution of the town." Irish News

Other local history titles