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…
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.
Quick let me lock my brother out of the playground….
Quick take a picture of me Mummy, not him, quick, while he’s locked out!
Hmmm, now how do I get out of here and plot my revenge?
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.
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
The moment the day really started to turn for us, was here
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By the end of our visit these two were good friends again, and had even decided to be a team – hence the Ts below.
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.
We were ready for tea, and to meet Mr A…also slightly worn by a week at work.
Our Sherwood Hideaway luxury lodge and hot tub, was calling, only 15 minutes drive away.
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.