After lunch we made our way into the village of Hucknall itself. Lord Bryon appears to be the only historically significant person to have come lived in the area as there are statues to his fame and the local Church of St Mary Magdalene holds his remains in its vault along with the rest of the family. The vault has now been finally sealed. The church holds a great deal of history about Byron and his only legitimate daughter as well as glorious plantings of spring flowers and little animals. In the former High St (now being turned into a mall) is one of the few remaining towers displaying the former name of the village and a statue in remembrance to the mining heritage that brought wealth to the village.
So, after returning to our hotel I had a look at the life of Byron. Although born in London, Lord George Byron the poet made nearby Newstead Abbey his home. The Byron family’s relationship with Newstead Abbey started with Sir John Byron of Colwick in Nottinghamshire who was granted Newstead Abbey by Henry VIII of England on 26 May 1540 and started its conversion into a country house. The 5th Lord died on 21 May 1798, and the title and Newstead Abbey was then left to his great-nephew, George Gordon, the famous poet, who became the 6th Baron Byron.
Despite the Abbey falling into disrepair, he was determined to stay at Newstead—”Newstead and I stand or fall together”. However, he was cash strapped and a buyer was found, who offered £140,000, which was accepted. By spring 1813, the buyer, had only paid £5,000 of the agreed down-payment and Byron was now without settled financial means. Involved at first in an affair with Lady Caroline Lamb and with other lovers and also pressed by debt, he began to seek a suitable marriage, considering – amongst others – Annabella Millbanke.
However, in 1813 he met for the first time in four years his half-sister, Augusta Leigh. Rumours of incest surrounded the pair; Augusta’s daughter Medora (b. 1814) was suspected to have been Byron’s. To escape from growing debt and rumour, Byron pressed his determination to marry Annabella, who was said to be the likely heiress of a rich uncle. They married on 2 January 1815, and their daughter, Ada, was born in December of that year. However, Byron’s continuing obsession with Augusta (and his continuing sexual escapades with actresses and others) made their marital life a misery. Annabella considered Byron insane, and in January 1816 she left him, taking their daughter, and began proceedings for a legal separation. The scandal of the separation, the rumours about Augusta, and ever-increasing debts forced him to leave England in April 1816, never to return. He died of a fever whilst fighting with the Greeks against the Ottomans for Greece’s independence.
Ada, became the Countess of Lovelace, whose work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine is considered a founding document in the field of computer science.
Photos – statue of Byron, family vault and memorial