Part of the Ilkeston Cam "Days Out" Series

Newstead Abbey - Part 2 - The Gardens
w/e 01 October 2006
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Newstead Abbey

In the first part (see here) of this mini-series about our visit to Newstead Abbey, we looked at some of the buildings and structures there and now in the second and concluding part, we'll take a wander around some of the gardens. The gardens are quite extensive and cover some 300 acres so we're really only just scratching the surface with the following images. At the bottom of this page you'll find links to several other sites but in particular, the official Newstead Abbey site has a lot of information about the gardens and I would suggest that a visit there - if you are not able to visit Newstead Abbey in person - is a must if you want to learn more.

Sub-Tropical Garden

Before entering the gardens, we stood for a while talking to a couple of guides who work at the Abbey and asked if there was a particular route we should follow. They Through The Walltold us we could just 'wander anywhere we liked' so following their advice we set off and followed our noses towards the Garden Lake. Turning left by the Stew Pond which possibly had its origin in a monastic fishpond we walked by the yew trees into the Sub-Tropical Garden. It is probably worth while at this point looking at this page (opens in a new window) to follow our route through the gardens. Plants in the Sub-Tropical Garden include bamboo, eucalyptus, pampas grass, plumbago, blue veronicas, mahonia and yucca - just don't ask me to identify them! At this point we noticed a short passage through the wall with a sign pointing to the Eagle Pond and Boatswain's Tomb.
Eagle Pond

'Eagle Pond' by today's logic seems a misnomer on two counts - the lack of eagles and the formal rectangular shape - but both parts of the name have their origins in history. It is also known as Mirror Pond but the 'Eagle' part of the name is derived from the priory's eagle-shaped lectern that is said to have been hidden here at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The 'Pond' part comes from its probable mediaeval origin as a monastic fish pond. Today the Eagle Pond lies at the centre of the walled and terraced Great Garden to the east of the house and it is Canada Geese that predominate all around it.
Spanish Garden & Boatswain's Tomb

We walked round the pond and made our way to the maze-like Spanish Garden which is on the site of the monastic burial ground. The garden takes its name from the well head at the centre which was copied from a Spanish original. On our way to the Spanish Garden we had passed the poet Byron's monument to his dog Boatswain, who died of rabies in 1808. The monument stands above a tomb and on the spot where Byron mistakenly believed the High Altar of the priory church to have stood. Byron's intentions were for himself and Boatswain to be buried in the tomb but following the sale of Newstead Abbey this became increasingly unlikely to happen and Byron was eventually buried in the family vault in nearby Hucknall. What became of Boatswain's remains is unknown but they are no longer in the tomb although the monument is still inscribed with Byron's tribute to his favourite dog.
Small Walled Garden

Continuing around the terrace from the Spanish Garden, we were able to overlook the Small Walled Garden. This was originally part of the Kitchen Garden built pre-1850 but before the turn of the century it had been made into a rose and carnation garden. It has undergone several changes since then being described in 1916 as a rose garden and in the 1960s it was transformed into an iris garden. These too have now been replaced with a variety of plants.
Rose Garden

Next to the Small Walled Garden on the site of the Victorian kitchen garden is another walled garden known as the Rose Garden which was first set out as such as recently as 1965. In late September 2006, roses were few and far between but there were plenty of other flowers and plants to be seen and enjoyed. The Gardener's Cottage that stands in the southeast corner of the Rose Garden was built in the 1860s.
The Garden Lake

We made our way between the Fernery and the American Garden to the Garden Lake, created by Thomas Wildman about 1820. Strategically placed seats allow visitors to enjoy the vistas across the lake whilst trying to identify some of the aquatic species that are listed on the official website. These include yellow water lily, wild angelica, water figwort, water forget-me-not, bittersweet, corn mint, bulrush, brooklime, lesser pond sedge, soft rush, toad rush, marsh marigold and water mint. Waterfowl such as ruddy ducks, grey herons and kingfishers are also listed together with dragonflies and damselflies. All in all it's just a lovely place to enjoy nature.
Japanese Garden

Water from an outlet in the lake flows into the Japanese Garden which is recognised as one of the finest examples in Britain. This is probably not surprising as it was laid out in 1899 by a Japanese horticulturist brought to England specifically for this task. Work to create the garden continued for another fifteen years until the outbreak of the First World War but today it has matured with stone lanterns, a teahouse and small stone bridges and stepping stones linking islands across trickling streams, into a splendid example of the archetypical Japanese Garden.
Following The Swan

We left the Japanese Garden to follow the path around the Garden Lake and in the steps of a swan back to the house. It was only when we were back at home and had time to consult the map that we realised there were several more areas that we could have explored including the Monk's Garden and the French Garden not to mention the stump of Byron's Oak - but that's something to look forward to on our next visit.

Back to Paet 01

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 the official Newstead Abbey website or 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.