Part of the Ilkeston Cam "Days Out" Series

Newstead Abbey - Part 01 - Buildings And Structures
w/e 17 September 2006
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Newstead Abbey

I've often thought about visiting Newstead Abbey but have always put it off until now as it has been well covered on other sites. Its connections with the poet Lord Byron (1788 - 1824) have been well documented so I'll try to include some of the lesser know facts about the place and for the most part let the pictures do the talking. In this the first of a two part series, I'll concentrate on the buildings and structures and in the second part, we'll take a look at some of the beautiful gardens.

The Approach

From the main gates of Newstead Abbey there is a mile long drive to the car park and from there, it is a further 250 yards to the house itself. This then is one of the first views of the Abbey that greets the visitor. To the right as we approach is the Stable Block and the Upper Lake.

Across the water we can make out beneath the trees some fortifications but to reach them entails a five to ten minute walk around the lake and through the woods on the far side.
Stable Block

From those fortifications there are some wonderful views back across the lake. Zooming in we see the aforementioned Stable Block complete with bell tower and fronted by the Mock Fort. All of this is now in private hands and not open to the public but the forts facing each other on the Upper Lake were built by the fifth Lord Byron so that he could fight mock naval battles with a miniature fleet of ships each with their own crew. He also erected Folly Castle on a hill overlooking the lake but this has now been demolished.
Classic View

Pulling back for a wider view of Upper Lake we can see what has become the classic view of Newstead Abbey (see also title image at the top of this page). The Abbey was originally founded by Henry II between 1164 and 1174 after the murder of Thomas a Becket and was actually a priory built in memory of his grandfather.
The House

It remained a religious house for almost 400 years until it was bought by Sir John Byron in 1540 after the Dissolution of Monasteries. It was Sir John who created a house out of the ruins of the monastery and it remained in the Byron family until the poet who was the sixth Lord Byron sold it to his friend Colonel Thomas Wildman in 1814 despite having previously said he would never sell it. He had inherited the house at the age of ten when it was in a considerable state of disrepair and he moved to Newstead ten years later after obtaining his degree in 1808. Mounting debts forced his hand however and the sale became inevitable.
Lake Outlet

Panning a little to the right from the ramparts of the fortifications we can now make out the lake outlet on the grassy bank near the centre of this image.
Watery Window

These views all show the outlet from three closer and different positions. Top right is from the bridge in the grassy bank that crosses the outlet. The bridge can be seen in the left picture as the water drops down to the lower level but notice the two black shapes through the cascading water. These are in fact 'windows' in the wall and are reached along a dark narrow passage accessed from the right hand side of the waterfall. The third image, bottom right, is from the passage looking through the falling water.
South Front

Returning now to the house, we can bring the history up to date for in 1931 it left private hands and was given to what was then Nottingham Corporation and is now the Nottingham City Council. From the south front of the building where peacocks can lazily pass their days on a large expanse of green, we are ready to explore the gardens which we will do in the second and concluding part of this mini-series.

Forward to Part 02

I wrote in the introduction to the Monk's Way, 'Other web sites already cover Newstead in some detail' so if this has whetted your appetite you can learn more at Time Travel-Britain.

Back to Days Out Index
Special Features Index
Terms & Conditions of Use
This website is copyright but licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.
Please credit the photographer Garth Newton, or add a link to these pages.