What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
THE BIRTHPLACE OF BYRON
=How to get there.=–Train from St. Pancras. Change trains at Nottingham. Midland Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Newstead. =Distance from London.=–134-1/4 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 3-1/4 to 4-1/4 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 17s. 6d. ... 10s. 9-1/2d. Return 35s. 0d. ... 21s. 7d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Station Hotel,"* Newstead. “Swan Hotel,"* Mansfield. “Midland,” “White Hart,” and “Green Dragon,” and others.
Near Sherwood Forest, and not far from the town of Mansfield, is Newstead Abbey, the ancestral seat of the Byrons. Founded in 1170 by Henry II. as an expiation for the murder of Thomas à Becket, the abbey, at the dissolution of the monasteries, was given by Henry VIII. to Sir John Byron. The latter made it his home, altering it very little, but allowing the church to fall into ruins. The monks, before leaving their old home, hid the charters in the lectern, which they threw into the lake. About 100 years ago the lectern, still containing the charters, was discovered, and is now being used at Southwell. The “Wicked Lord Byron,” the grand-uncle of the poet, allowed the abbey to fall into decay, and to spite his sons cut down a large number of splendid oaks. Byron succeeded to the estate when a mere boy, and loved it so much that, even when in great need of money, he refused to part with it. At last he was obliged to sell the home, which he has so vividly portrayed in verse, to his old school friend Colonel Wildman. After the loss of the abbey, Byron left England, and died six years afterwards, in 1824, at Missolonghi, fighting for the independence of the Greeks.
The Abbey Church, though in ruins, is a very good example of Early English work. The abbey itself is full of interesting and historic rooms, one being the bedroom where Charles II. slept, retaining still the state bed, whose coverlet was embroidered by Mary Queen of Scots. Edward I. is known to have stayed in the abbey, and the room which he occupied contains some splendid oak carving. Lord Byron’s bedroom is just as he left it, with his college pictures on the walls and the writing-table that he used. Newstead is open to the public on Tuesday and Friday when the family are not in residence. Tickets may be obtained at the two hotels mentioned above which are marked with an asterisk.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. NEWSTEAD ABBEY.
It contains Lord Byron’s bedroom in exactly the condition he left it in 1818.]