The gardens and grounds of Newstead Abbey are a pleasure to visit, relaxing and romantic as you might expect when you’re walking in the footsteps of the renowned romantic poet, Lord Byron.
Newstead Abbey never was an Abbey, in fact it was built as a priory, The Priory of St. Mary of Newstead and was founded by King Henry ll of England. After the dissolution of monasteries, King Henry Vlll of England granted Newstead Abbey to Sir John Byron of Colwick in Nottinghamshire on 26th May 1540 and began converting Newstead into a country house. The poet, George Gordon Byron inherited his title and ancestral home on the death of his uncle William at the tender age of 10 becoming the 6th Baron Byron.
One of my favourite Byron poems;
“There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture in the lonely shore,
There is a society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but nature more.
Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)
Newstead’s extensive grounds and gardens are a wonder to explore, we had quite an adventure roving through the gardens, there are 16 different features to discover throughout Newstead Abbey grounds including some of my favorites, the garden lake, the walled garden and Boatswains monument.
Lord Byron loved animals, and when his favourite dog Boatswain contracted rabies, he nursed his dog lovingly and had no fear of being bitten and infected by his beloved Newfoundland dog Boatswain. Sadly, despite Lord Byron’s best efforts, Boatswain died and he had a large monument dedicated to his beloved dog with a tomb below it that Byron planned to be buried in alongside his dog.
The Japanese garden is another sure favourite of mine, peaceful, thought-provoking, a lovely spot to stop and ponder. The Japanese garden was developed in 1899 for Ethel Webb by a Japanese horticulturist and was intended to mimic the Japanese landscape with streams and stepping stones along with little stone bridges. Stone lanterns were imported from Japan to complete the authentic landscaping which continued up until 1914. I find the cascade that flows into the Japanese garden from the lake completes the tranquil atmosphere here and which also feeds into the miniature streams.
The grotto in the fernery again takes my imagination, another little oasis, so quaint and peaceful. There are so many parts to explore through the grounds and gardens at Newstead Abbey that deciding exactly where to wander next is the only problem you’ll encounter. I can’t think of a nicer problem to have!
We finally meandered toward the cascade that flows from the upper lake, this was known as the mill lake when the Byrons owned Newstead. I find it quite relaxing to stand behind the cascade watching the water tumble and flow like a watery window. From here we had another walk, this time along the lake side to the cannon fort on the far side of the lake, when the 5th lord owned Newstead Abbey he would have mock battles on the lake, he would fire his live cannons from the cannon fort at his miniature naval vessels on the lake. When taking part in these battles the 5th Lord would call the lake, his “Mediterranean Sea.” The mock fort on the near shore was also a part of this scheme, built in 1770 and is now privately owned.
Whilst in the footsteps of Lord Byron It must be said, you can’t hide the fact that it certainly is quite romantic here too. Lord Byron made quite a name for himself and not always because of his notoriety in romantic poetry, his life was filled with many a scandal which I shan’t elaborate on.
What a fantastically relaxed family day out at Newstead Abbey, the gardens and grounds are perfect for a game of hide and seek, as we found out, but also filled with intrigue and mystery. To complete the day of course an ice-cream was definitely called for and anyone that knows me will tell you, I cannot resist an opportunity for ice-cream, the café at Newstead Abbey ticked my box. A delicious finish to a gorgeous day!