Newport, the Isle of Wight's Capital town, is located in the central part of the Island along the river Medina. The Town dates back some 800 years having received its first charter toward the end of the 12th Century. The settlement was burnt to the ground in 1377 and never regained its status as a major town until the 17th Century. One of the oldest surviving buildings is the old Grammar School built in 1612.
The Centre of Newport is made up of a combination of narrow back streets, formal squares and the riverside quay. One such square is St. Thomas Square, where the parish church built in 1857 is situated. Once a busy corn market, St. Thomas Square consists of tea rooms and small cafés as well as a selection of small shops. Nearby is St. James Square, with its imposing statue of Queen Victoria erected to commemorate her death in 1901.
Other notable buildings include the Quay Arts building, The Guildhall designed by Nash, within which is the Island History museum, and the Roman Villa in Cypress road. More recent additions include the St Mary's Hospital with its distinctive metal-clad buildings and the new Cineworld Complex containing a multiplex cinema and various food outlets which opened in July 2000.
To the southwest of Newport is Carisbrooke Castle, famed for the imprisonment of King Charles I in 1648 just prior to his execution in 1649. The Castle is also the place where King Charles's daughter, 16 year old Elizabeth died in 1650. Her tomb is now in the parish church of St. Thomas in Newport. The castle is still intact and was the residence of the Governor of the Island up until 1944. It is now owned by English Heritage and open to the public.