As part of the Georgian module, my university arranged a trip to poet Lord Byron’s gothic home, Newstead Abbey. Byron being revered as “mad, bad and dangerous to know” indicated that the trip was going to be truly fascinating.
We were extremely fortunate to have a guided tour of several of the rooms. These included the Great Hall, where Byron practiced his shooting, the dining room, where Byron held many raucous parties, the Library, and a room where Byron’s items from his university room is housed, including a model of Byron’s skull cup from which he drank. We also got to see the table at which Byron wrote one of his famous poems.
One of the facts the tour guide revealed was Byron’s love of animals. He always kept dogs, but upon being informed by the Dean he could not keep domesticated animals in his university room, Byron kept a bear (stating he could keep it, as it was not domesticated after all). This bear moved with Byron to Newstead Abbey, where it wandered the grounds and house. Another favourite animal of Byron’s was his Newfoundland dog Boatswain. Upon the dogs death, Byron had a monument erected in the gardens, where a beautiful poem is inscribed.
After the brilliant tour, we were given free reign to explore the vast gardens of the Newstead Abbey grounds. Armed with the map, we weaved our way through the different sections of the gardens. I personally loved the Japanese Garden, complete with stepping stones, pagoda style outhouses and blossom trees. There are 19 different gardens or natural sites of interest in the Abbey, meaning there was lots to discover around the next corner of the footpath.
The great impression of both the building and grounds upon viewing means it is easy to see why Newstead appears in some of Byron’s works. It is referenced both in Canto 1 of Childe Harold (the work which made Byron famous) and the final Cantos of Daun Jaun.
I had a fabulous day visiting Newstead, and I implore anyone with interests from religion, history, art, architecture, landscaping, literature etc to take a look if you get the chance. Even if you have no particular interest in any of the above, the beauty of the grounds themselves definitely makes the site worth a visit.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have enjoyed my post and that I did Newstead justice. I love the fact that I can use my blog to show literature is so much more than words on a page.
Have you come across any of Byron’s work? Have you yourself visited Newstead- or if not will you consider it now? Have you ever visited an author’s home or a museum dedicated to a particular writer or type of literature? I always enjoy hearing from you, so please like, share and comment away!