See also our garden article Newstead Abbey Garden
Newstead Abbey is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron. Its name derives from the fact that it was originally an abbey founded in 1170 by Henry II. The original 13th century west front of the church survives as does the monastic chapter house which continued in use as a chapel after Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1539. In 1540 the king gave the former monastery to Sir John Byron, ancestor of the poet. He was responsible for changing the abbey into a family home.
The Byron family owned the house and grounds until 1818 when it was purchased from the poet by Thomas Wildman, using his wealth from Jamaican plantations. He repaired and restored much of the house, preserving its medieval origins.
In the period rooms are tapestries, armour, and antique furniture collected by Wildman. The great hall is oak panelled, reputedly from one tree. Medieval stone carvings and manuscripts are on display as are objects, letters, manuscripts, and furniture.
Of special note is the giltwood bed that belonged to Lord Byron. Victorian photo albums, paintings, furniture, and other family objects are also on display.
The house changed hands again in 1861 after Wildman’s death when it was purchased by William Frederick Webb, an African explorer. His grandson sold it to Sir Julien Cahn who gave it to the Nottingham Corporation in 1931.
Highlights of the 300-acre park and garden are a lake, ponds, a 17th century walled garden, an 1800s fern garden, a rockery, a sub-tropical garden, a Spanish garden, a Japanese garden and a walled rose garden.
Newstead Abbey and Gardens
Newstead Abbey Park, 12 miles north of Nottingham, near the A60
Close to Junction 27 of the M1; follow the signs for Sherwood Forest until you see the brown signs for the Abbey
Tel. 0 1623 455 900
Open: House: by tour on Sundays at noon, 1pm, 2pm, private tours available, phone to book; Grounds: all year, daily, 9am-5pm or dusk whichever is sooner; Cafe, daily 11am-4pm; shop, April-Oct, noon-4.30pm, Nov-March, weekends only, noon-4pm; Parking; refreshments; shop; adventure playground; picnic area
Note: plan a full day to take in all the gardens, park, and abbey and enjoy a lunch in the café.
Photos and content © by Barbara Ballard
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