Byronic! Day One in Notts: Newstead Abbey

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They say Lord Byron was mad, bad and dangerous to know. You didn’t spend the last Friday of the holidays with my kids. Something happened to my two over Easter. I blame chocolate. Or maybe it is a 6 and 8yo thing? The Romantic poet Lord Byron is famous the world over as a passionate lover, a political revolutionary and a man who inspired the Greeks to victory over Turkish rule. So hanging out at his pad was exactly what these two needed…

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By the last Friday of the holidays I was using every inch of my exhausted positive parenting capacities to keep them from, how can I put it? Killing each other. Luckily Experience Nottingham set us up with a weekend finale to the holidays to remember.

Newstead Abbey, was the perfect place to let off steam, stage a revolution, indulge in a spot of wild rebellion, disgrace yourself and be quite beastly. My kids stormed ahead, a wild rumpus of restless energy. Within minutes they were wrestling each other on the lawns, like a pair of tigers, fortunately no-one seemed to mind.

The playground was well hidden, behind the abbey and a wall of conifers. Something about the path into the trees must have alerted their radar, because they found it in minutes. They proceeded to argue over the same tyre, when there were four rows of them. One of those days.

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Quick let me lock my brother out of the playground….

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Quick take a picture of me Mummy, not him, quick, while he’s locked out!

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Hmmm, now how do I get out of here and plot my revenge?

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After rescuing G (it wasn’t really locked, but he was convinced it was for some reason) we explored the walled gardens. While they were busy sticking each other’s their heads in ponds and flower beds, I was able to take a minute, (but no more), to appreciate the stunning gardens.

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There is a fabulously romantic, yet ruined feel to the whole place. Byron was one of the Romantic poets, yet once described as ‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know.’ The Abbey passed down generations of Byron’s family, feuds led one member to destroy parts and masses of deer. Byron, himself riddled with debts and barely out of his teens, inherited a home already decaying.

THROUGH thy battlements, Newstead, the hollow winds whistle;
Thou, the hall of my fathers, art gone to decay;
In thy once smiling garden the hemlock and thistle
Have choked up the rose which late bloomed in the way.

On Leaving Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron

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The moment the day really started to turn for us, was here

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Something about the twists and turns, little caves, stepping stones, water falls, simple sculptures, blossom and gentle ripples of colour, seemed to calm everyone right down.

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We sat in a pagoda and had a chat, and then this little cherub popped up from nowhere and asked to be photographed with the flowers.

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L was calmed by the swans, although they made the most bizarre noises at Max the dog. Probably a good time to say that dogs are allowed in the grounds as long as they are on leads.

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We decided we were probably overdue food, so went to the courtyard cafe, the kids enjoyed sandwich boxes and I had a very generously filled baguette and a cup of tea. Perhaps we had gone too long without food, as the day became even calmer still.

I loved this archway, while we were there a gorgeous flame haired girl was having photos taken in a white tunic, a truly gothic shot, you will have to imagine her I am afraid, as I was too shy to ask her for a picture too.

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And there was time to take in the Abbey. It wasn’t open on weekdays when we visited, but the outside is pretty amazing in itself.Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire - 30

I have not seen Newstead myself but I must inform you that almost every Person I meet informs me of the shameful state it is in, all the county talks of it and says its is quite a disgrace for any Person in the character of a Gentleman to keep a place in such a Beastly state (that was the expression that was used). The new windows in the long dining room have disappeared so I am told but all that must be looked after before his Lordship leaves the place. 

Byron’s Mother, in a letter.

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By the end of our visit these two were good friends again, and had even decided to be a team – hence the Ts below.

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I was feeling a bit like this lady, worn thin. But I loved Newstead and I will definitely return, maybe even on my own, to take pictures at my leisure of the decaying gothic romanticism. Although it is absolutely, as I think I have shown, a truly great place to explore as a family.

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We were ready for tea, and to meet Mr A…also slightly worn by a week at work.

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Our Sherwood Hideaway luxury lodge and hot tub, was calling, only 15 minutes drive away.

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But that’s another story…

I’ll leave you with the video, I think it captures our day beautifully. In fact, considering I was in charge of a dog and two byronic kids, I think it’s pretty amazing. You can read all about the next stop on our journey through Notts, Sherwood Hideaway.


For more information on Newstead Abbey

For information on things to do, places to stay in Nottingham, visit Experience Nottinghamshire

Find out about Sherwood Hideaway luxury lodges here.



  1. 30/04/2015 / 10:54 am

    What a brilliant post, and it sounds like a superb weekend.

    I would have liked to hang out with Byron. He sounds like my kinda guy

    • parentshaped
      30/04/2015 / 2:27 pm

      Separated at birth!

  2. 30/04/2015 / 11:16 am

    Oh this looks just our kind of place – we did the Dylan Thomas thing in Wales, I reckon we could do the Byron thing in Notts! That Japanese garden is gorgeous!

    • parentshaped
      30/04/2015 / 2:27 pm

      We must swap tips – fancy that too!

  3. 30/04/2015 / 11:39 am

    What a fantastic place, your pictures make it look so inviting! One day I Penny, one day! 🙂 x

    • parentshaped
      30/04/2015 / 2:28 pm

      Ah yes, do it!

  4. 30/04/2015 / 11:40 am

    Oh I must visit here, I love getting ideas for places to visit, and you have definitely inspired me to add this to my list!

    • parentshaped
      30/04/2015 / 2:28 pm

      I think it gets overlooked as a Notts place to go – we always head for Rufford, but this is just as good for a family day!

  5. 30/04/2015 / 4:19 pm

    Wow Penny you certainly show off Newstead Abbey in style, your photography is breath taking. Love hearing about mad bad boy Byron too, that did make me smile.

    Added to my list of places to visit when I’m at mums, thank you.

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:21 pm

      He he, def visit next time you see your Mum!

  6. 30/04/2015 / 6:24 pm

    Love the Video Penny! I have so much to learn from you! Great place for a getaway

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:21 pm

      Thanks Otilia!

  7. 30/04/2015 / 6:48 pm

    That architecture is just amazing, so beautiful.

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:21 pm

      Mad isn’t it!

  8. 30/04/2015 / 10:28 pm

    What a fabulous place (and I love his sunglasses by the way!)

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:20 pm

      Ha ha Donna, I could write a whole post about those shades…

  9. 30/04/2015 / 11:07 pm

    That sounds like a fantastic place to visit. I can’t believe how much there is to do in Notts – we can’t wait to visit in the summer. Love all the pictures too – brilliant.

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:20 pm

      Say hello if you visit – and look out for more ideas in the follow up posts!

  10. 01/05/2015 / 9:02 am

    I love the narrative arc your family went through in this post! It’s funny how siblings can begin the day as warring factions, but end as best buddies. And how a bit of food can work miracles! This place looks amazing – we’ll definitely put it on our list for our trip to Nottingham next year.

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:19 pm

      Great place to visit Nell, do shout me when you are about!

    • parentshaped
      03/05/2015 / 5:17 pm

      Thank you!

    • parentshaped
      04/05/2015 / 7:52 am

      Thanks Anya, they’re lovely really 😉

  11. 05/05/2015 / 6:16 pm

    Wow – some amazing pictures here, Penny. Looks like a wonderfully magical and romantic place, it really does. I lived in Notts and never visited as well, how bad is that?

I'd love to know your thoughts!