newstead abbey

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Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire is probably best known as the home of the poet Byron who lived there from 1808 to 1814.  It was originally an Augustinian priory, founded in around 1163 by Henry II, reputedly in penance after the death of Thomas Beckett.

Hepplewhite chairs in  Byron's dining room.
Byron's dining room
mary garden
For nearly 400 years the abbey was home to a religious community and there are still very many traces of the original building to be found. One of the main remaining parts of the Abbey is the garth and its surrounding cloister. The garth is currently planted as a "Mary Garden". The Augustinians were dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, and a Mary garden contains plants with names connected to the bible story.

The Mary Garden

The priory was taken over by the Byron family in 1540 when Henry VIII granted to Sir John Byron of Colwick during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It stayed in their hands for almost 300 years until the 5th Lord Byron hit money problems and much of the estate and its contents were sold to solve them. It wasn't enough, however, and George Byron (aged just 10) inherited a wreck in 1798 and little money to repair it with.

In spite of his efforts he was forced to sell the house in 1818 and it was bought by his friend Thomas Wildman, whose family owned large plantations in Jamaica.  He invested much of the family fortune in the house, choosing to keep its medieval character.  After his death the house was bought by William Frederick Webb, a friend of the Victorian explorer David Livingstone. It then passed through several members of Webb's family before being sold to philanthropist Sir Julien Cahn, who gave it to Nottingham Corporation in 1931.
Byron's bed
Byron's bed