The Retirees return to Nottingham – Lord Byron and Hucknall

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

The Retirees return to Nottingham.

We arrived at Gatwick Airport South and after resting our weary heads from trains and planes, we then set off in search of the Europcar office, which also proved to be difficult to find but we got there only to find the car we had reserved was not available. After one and a half hours we finally got away from Gatwick and headed off up the M23, the M25, and then the M1 to Nottingham. It really felt like we were going home with all the familiar features along the highway. Finally, 4 hours after leaving London Gatwick we pulled into Bostocks Lane off the M1 and arrived at the Novotel Nottingham Derbyshire; a hotel well known to us. When we left the UK in November 2015 the hotel was undergoing renovation, now in April 2017 we were given a comfortable room with a view of the bush leading to the canal path leading to the River Trent. Spring was coming and as usual flowers were blooming everywhere.

Rested we awoke to a grey day without any real plans. After speaking with our eldest daughter in Australia, we decided to ride the tram to Hucknall. In 2015 the council had just finished constructing a new tram line from Toton (the next village beside Long Eaton) to Hucknall through Nottingham and although we were there for the opening we did not ride the rail all the way to the end. So that is what we decided to do – ride the tram to Hucknall. As we left to drive to the park and ride station I took photos of the beautiful road side flower beds proving that Spring was in the air but it did not feel like it at all.

Kerry had read about Bridlesmith St and its boutiques and as I was foolish enough to comment that it was just near the Lace District and the tram passed through it, our first stop was Bridlesmith Lane. Of course there were some shops that needed investigation but we finally made it to the old Market Square and picked up the tram once again to complete the journey to Hucknall just down the road from Newstead Abbey the former home of Lord Byron. We had lunch at the Station Hotel which had a curious games room which included a quote from Lord Byron on its wall “What’s drinking? A mere pause for thinking!”

The Retirees go Abroad – Greg’s Visit to Nottingham – Attenborough Wildlife Reserve, Nottingham Galleries of Justice and D H Lawrence Centre

The next day, Tuesday, was again bright and sunny with a touch of coldness in the air. A good time to go to Attenborough Reserve and Attenborough church. I drove over to the Reserve and we took the path to the church where I showed Greg where we laboured of a Wednesday (sometimes when not travelling) and made our way back to the Wildlife Centre for a cup of coffee followed by a walk through the reserve spotting different birds as we walked.

Refreshed from our walk we travelled into Nottingham city centre and visited the Galleries of Justice. I had been here before also but again the tour had been changed. Into the Courtroom and the court orderly passed on the evidence concerning the recent violent death of a local member of the aristocracy. Greg was called upon to give evidence in the matter and took the stand. After this we all reassembled in the cells below where we met one of the suspects being held for questioning and she showed us around the place – not much had changed it was still dark damp and horrible. We then made our way to the infirmary and heard from the doctor the results of the autopsy and then into the Sherriff’s dungeon where we met an explorer who was also being held in relation to the investigation and she showed us the rest of the cells including the gallows where the convicted person might swing.

We received the remaining witness statements in the streets below the jail concluding the visit to the cells and allowing us to solve the mystery. As we made our way to the street we passed through the prison museum learning about the reformers and the reforms to the prison system throughout England. Solving crime gives you an appetite, so a bite to eat and then across to the castle. We past Robin Hood on our way to the Castle. It is not really a castle and has not been so since the Civil War in 1642 to 1646, when Parliament ordered the demolition of the castle following the beheading of Charles I. The Palace constructed by the Duke of Newcastle was built on the old castle site only to be set alight by rioters following a vote against greater voting rights for all men (women would have a further fight to win). The Palace has been restored and is now a Museum of both art and some folk history and stuff. Still interesting to visit and complete with a stroll through the gardens. Statutes to the great writers of Nottingham – Lord Byron and D H Lawrence greet you at the front door.

We have golf tomorrow so we head home for dinner and a restful night.