BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 8 November, 2002, 10:29 GMT
Byron mansion needs millions
The rear of Newstead Abbey
The abbey is a priceless treasure that needs protection
Eric Simpson

The ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron - 12th Century Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire - needs more than 3m to restore and preserve it.

Byron lived on the huge sprawling estate for six years before selling it in 1817 to settle mounting debts.

Now Nottingham City Council, which was given the estate in trust in 1931, is trying to raise the money to restore it to its former glory and also promote the Abbey as a tourist attraction.

Leisure services director Mike Williams told BBC News Online: "We intend to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for extensive repair and restoration funds, but we need a conservation plan before the money is granted."

Lord Byron
Lord Byron died in 1824

Mr Williams said the stately home, originally an Augustinian priory, draws about 85,000 visitors a year, compared to 330,000 for Nottingham Castle and more than one million at the city's Wollaton Park.

Nottingham is one of only a few places in the UK that has three Grade One listed sites: the Castle, Wollaton Park and Newstead Abbey.

He said Newstead Abbey needed major repairs, including work on its 13th Century west facade.

So the city is considering forming a new trust which would include Nottighamshire County Council and the local district council, to spearhead a rejuvenation of the site.

At-risk register

Mr Williams said: "We need to add magnets to the site to bring in more people, perhaps by restoring the formal gardens, especially the Japanese Garden."

He said Byron's time there had proved one of the strongest attractions for visitors.

The west front needs some restoration work
The west front needs some restoration work

"Byron was not only a poet but a champion of Europeanism and democratic values. He was a freedom fighter and a controversial figure."

Newstead Abbey manager Julie DeLong says the 333-acre park needed to be properly developed.

She said the west front, which is already on the English Heritage at-risk register, needed major restoration work.

Ms DeLong added that an appeal is underway to raise money for the restoration work.

Newstead Abbey was given its present name by the Byron family in 1540.

The poet Lord Byron, who was the sixth lord, inherited the abbey at age 10, but didn't move in until he was 20.

When the poet inherited the mansion it was empty and partly ruined.

Manager Julie DeLong displays Byron memorabilia
Byron memorabilia like this helmet are in the mansion

He used many rooms for sporting acitivities, including pistol shooting and boxing, and allowed a tame bear and a wolf to roam the halls.

Byron only stayed six years before moving to Italy.

When he sold the estate to plantation owner Thomas Wildman in 1818, he ended 400 years of his family's ownership.

Byron was a Romantic poet famed for his works, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan.

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage sold out in three days and became famous for its portrayal of a Byronic hero.

Byron spent years fighting for Greek independence and even raised money for a small army to fight against Turkish rule.

As a member of the House of Lords, Byron defended the many Nottinghamshire workers who had lost their livelihoods to machines.

He argued for government policies to help the people and relieve their poverty.

Byron was 36 when he died in Greece from a fever on 9 April, 1824.

Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

06 Aug 02 | England
04 Nov 02 | England
26 Sep 01 | England
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |