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Newtownstewart Conservation Area

Newtownstewart, County Tyrone
Aerial shot of Newtownstewart Conservation Area.

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Newtownstewart was designated in April 1993 as a Conservation Area-  an area of special architectural or historic interest. It is only one of five locations within the district which enjoys this status. The built heritage and wider historic environment of Newtownstewart sets it apart as a place to visit and explore and provides a unique backdrop and a source of inspiration for a vibrant local arts and culture sector.

Newtonstewart could be described as the archetypal Plantation town, with its church at one end and castle at the other, the latter guarding a former river crossing-point. The origins of Newtownstewart however predates the Plantation. It is likely it owes its beginnings to the existence of the said river crossing or ford across the River Mourne, and was controlled at one time or another by castles which overlooked the location. The site of the ford is now occupied by a handsome, six-arch 'Old Bridge' built in 1727.  Pre Plantation, four 'castles' are believed to have been founded in and around Newtownstewart by members of the O'Neill clan. These were Harry Avery's Castle (circa 1320)- the remains of which can be found 1 km south-west of the town; Abrim O'Neill's Castle in the Holm (Pigeon Hill) of which an earthwork mound is the only remaining feature. Art O'NeiIl's Castle now virtually disappeared, near to the confluence of the Rivers Strule and Owenkillew and Turlough O'Neill's Castle which was reputedly on the site of the now ruinous Stewart Castle at the north end of the town's Main Street.

Following demise of the O’Neill’s and the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the land in the County of Tyrone became forfeit to English King  James I. The ‘lot of Newtowne' came into the possession of Sir James Clapham in 1610. He, in turn, sold to Sir Robert Newcomen in 1618. In 1623 the first church, on the site of the present St. Eugene's, was  built In Newtownstewart . In 1629, after starting work to rebuild the Turlough O’Neill Castle, Newcomen sold the land to Sir William Stewart, a Scotsman from Garlies, near Newtown Stewart in Galloway. Although there are now no early maps in existence, it is likely that Main Street would have been laid out at that time, formally connecting the settlement’s two principal structures, the Castle and Church. Both buildings were burned in the ensuing conflicts in 1641 Rebellion and 1689. The Castle was never restored and remains to this day an impressive wallstead with its three angular crow step gables silhouetted against the sky.


For further information on Newtownstewart’s designation as a Conservation Area click on the link below


Conservation Area Guide - Newtownstewart

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