Newport (Isle of Wight)

Newport is the principal borough on the Isle of Wight, located just north of the center point of the island at the head of the River Medina’s estuary. The town claims borough status from the twelfth century and received charters from Henry VII in 1490 and James 1 in 1608. The manor of Newport was held by the crown but administered by the successive lords of the island, in the early seventeenth century, Sir John Oglander. (See the Oglander records for material related to the records found here.)

Newport held an annual May festivity that involved a procession to take wood from nearby Parkhurst Forest, accompanied by minstrels and morris dancers, that is described in the ‘Ligger Book’ a compilation of the town’s charters and other important documents. For an extended discussion of that seasonal custom see Jane Cowling, ‘The Wood Eaves’, Medieval English Theatre 17 (1995), 20-28. Although no evidence of professional actors visiting Newport has survived, William Sandes and his company of puppet players appear to have performed frequently in the town in the late 1620s and early 1630s.

Newport 1570-1628