Newstead Abbey Historic House and Gardens
- | 01623 455900
- | www.newsteadabbey.org.uk
- Free entry with National Art Pass.
- View venue & entry details
Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire is best known as the ancestral home of Lord Byron, and displays many personal items that belonged to the great Romantic poet.
Built on the site of a 12th-century Augustinian priory, the Abbey retains its medieval character, and its striking façade incorporates the West Front of the old priory church. Byron sold Newstead in 1817, and its interior was later remodelled in the Gothic Revival style.
Today, the Abbey is something of a museum of its own history, with furniture, medieval manuscripts, paintings, photographs, letters – the possessions of Newstead's past occupants.
Byron's magnificent giltwood bed is one of the highlights of the collections. It was brought to Newstead from his student rooms at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is on display in the poet's private apartments, where visitors can also see his tin bath, writing desk and pistol (Byron and his friends used the Abbey's hall for practising their marksmanship).
Among the many Gothic rooms is an oriental gem: the beautiful Japanese Room, featuring hand-painted screens and panels decorated with gold leaf and a collection of Japanese prints.
Art Funded works
In 1724 William, 4th Lord Byron commissioned two oil paintings from Flemish artist Peter Tillemans, who was celebrated for his sporting subjects. These works for Lord Byron depict hounds, racehorses with their grooms and Newstead Abbey in the background.
Girolamo Prepiani painted a miniature of Byron in watercolour on ivory. It is one of two known portraits of the poet wearing a scarlet uniform, trimmed ostentatiously with 25 yards of gold lacing, that he commissioned in 1813. The painting was completed in about 1817 and is set in gold, with the family coat of arms and the impression of Byron's signet ring on the back.
The Abbey estate extends over 300 acres, and contains lakes, ponds and waterfalls, an array of Victorian gardens, herbaceous borders and displays of rhododendrons, a Fernery, an ancient stew pond and Byron's Oak - the stump of a tree he planted as a 10-year-old boy. The grounds attract all kinds of wildlife, from kingfishers and dragonflies to peacocks and swans.
Light meals and snacks are served at the Café at the Abbey, a contemporary space in the southwest wing of Newstead. Built around a central courtyard, it's perfect for outdoor eating during warm weather.