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Musket Balls and Misconceptions

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Musket balls and misconceptions
by Ray Stroud
Many youngsters through the years have found it difficult to resist the temptation of squeezing their fingers into the holes in the pillars of the Westgate Hotel.We had all, probably, been regaled with stories of the Chartist attack on the Westgate, and of the musket balls that had penetrated the building during the battle.But were these tales based on truth or myth?In recent years, many in Newport have adopted the ‘myth’ position, arguing that they had been drilled into the pillars at a later date, possibly to attach gates or some other structure. But does that theory line up with the historical evidence?

The portico, which today sadly stands concealed behind sheets of chipboard, is the only remaining feature of a building that was constructed in 1799.Interestingly, it is actually not made of cast iron as many believe, but of wood.This portico was part of a ‘second Westgate Inn’, erected on the site of a fifteenth-century manor house at the …