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Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire


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Mauro
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Joined: 15 Oct 2008

Something to add to the gazzetter...
Newstead Abbey is a former Augustinian Priory which was taken over by the Crown during the Dissolution of Monasteries. It later became property of the Barons Byron: the best known member of this family is of course the eccentric and highly gifted George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (more often known as Lord Byron), but many other colorful characters trampled the Abbey's lawns.
The 4th Baron Byron renovated the house and carried out much needed and extensive works in the gardens. The 5th Baron, William Byron, first squandered a fortune rebuilding the house in Gothic style and then laid waste to the estate. He was widely known as an eccentric man, and as he grew older he became increasingly violent, to the point that he was nicknamed "The Wicked Lord".
Insanity must have run in the family because his only son, also named William, started a relationship with his own cousin, Juliana Byron.
The Wicked Lord grew increasingly eccentric: he both considered such an union as an unnatural act and desperately wanted his son to marry well to save the family from debts.
His bouts of violence became more and more frequent and he started to take his rage on the Abbey itself: he deliberately destroyed many expensive pieces of furniture, had many trees cut down and is rumored to have killed the whole deer population of the Abbey.
He outlived both his own son and grandson (who died fighting the French in Corsica) and upon his death the property passed on to the nearest surviving heir, Lord Byron. A strange event is associated with his death: it is said that all the crickets living on property left it in swarms, never to return.
Lord Byron was much fascinated by the property, now much dilapidated, but never lived there for long periods of time.
His faithful Newfouland dog, Boatswain, died at the Abbey in 1808 and was buried in a rich and extravagant tomb carrying an epitaph penned by the poet himself. Lord Byron expressely requested to be buried at Newstead next to his beloved dog but his heirs refused to carry out his will and buried him in the family tomb instead.
A well known local legend says that Boatswain's ghost has been often seen wandering the Abbey grounds, looking for his master: seeing this apparition is considered a very bad omen indeed.
Lord Byron tried for many years to sell the property to ease his financial troubles and finally his agents found a buyer in 1817: Thomas Wildman, who spared no resources in restoring the Abbey to its pristine glory. The Abbey passed to various owners until it was presented to the Nottingham Corporation in 1931.

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"Louhi spoke in riddled tones of three things to achieve: find and catch the Devil's Moose and bring it here to me. Seize the Stallion born of Fire, harness the Golden Horse. He captured and bound the Moose, he tamed the Golden Horse. Still there remained one final task: hunt for the Bird from the Stream of Death"

-Kalevala, Rune XIII-


Neil Boothman's picture
Neil Boothman
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Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Quote: His bouts of
Quote:

His bouts of violence became more and more frequent and he started to take his rage on the Abbey itself: he deliberately destroyed many expensive pieces of furniture, had many trees cut down and is rumored to have killed the whole deer population of the Abbey.

Not quite the nature savvy 'noble savage' ideal held by Byron and fellow Romatic poets. :-)

Great article Mauro, thanks. I've submitted it to Dan, he'll no doubt publish it soon.



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