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

Sherwood Forest, Thoresby Abbey, Rufford Country Park and Wellsby Abbey

 

August 13, 2014
Sherwood Forest, Thoresby Abbey, Rufford Abbey Country Park and Wellsby Abbey
It is Wednesday our wedding anniversary so we have planned to catch up with Ingrid and John Pears plus revisit Thoresby Abbey. Ingrid is a world renowned glass blower with her furnace and shop at Thoresby courtyard and past President of the Nottingham Rotary Club. Thoresby is now a Warner Hotel but Warner has restored the Abbey magnificently. It is about 55 minutes north of Long Eaton.
On the way (as usually happens) we were distracted with a sign to Newstead Abbey but the Abbey building is closed during the week. This diversion meant that we approached Thoresby from a different direction and we ran into Rufford Abbey Country Park. Rufford is now a ruin but has an interesting history. The Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks in 1147. Henry VIII closed the Abbey and it ended up in the hands of the 4th Earl of Shrewsbury and converted to a country house. Now remember Bess of Hardwick. One of her husbands was the Earl of Shrewsbury so the Abbey might have ended up in the hands of the Cavendish family except that it passed along the female line and ended up in the hands of the Saville Family until sold to Nottingham County Council in 1952 and became England’s first country park. It is 150 acres in size and regularly frequented by families.
Below you will see photos of the Abbey as is today showing
• The interior ground floor of the monks quarters
• The base of a corbel (support for the upper floor) and its grotesque
• One part of the under croft with displays of abbey furniture and
• The other part showing the lay monks quarters and
• What is now called the Orangeries but started life as a bath house with a swimming pool (in 1740 this was quite unique) and the view from the Orangeries to the grounds.

You can read more at website: http://www.Nottinghamshire.gov.uk/ruffordcp

We then moved on to the only remnant of Sherwood Forest remaining. Mining and logging over the years has decimated the forest and the Brits are desperately trying to hold on to this little bit. It is near the village of Edwinstowe and includes a visitor centre and various walks in the forest. We took the walk to Major Oak said to be the tree Robin Hood and men used as a hiding spot because the trunk has a cavity which can hold 13 men. All of the good oak trees have been cut out leaving the stunted and diseased but even these have grown to enormous proportions over 800 years. In Robin’s time the forest was a Royal Hunting Forest made up of villages open heath woodland sunny glades and farmland. I was surprised to learn that the ecology of the forest is quite unique and includes 200 different species of spider and 1500 species of beetle.
I have given you below photos of
• The entrance to the visitors centre
• Major Oak (11m in circumference and longest limbs being 28m)
• An eagle and a hawk at the visitors centre

• The Robin Hood supply wagon

• and us enjoying a cuppa

You can read more at website: http://www.Nottinghamshire.gov.uk/sherwoodcp

Finally we made our way to Thoresby. Having been there before we went straight to the Courtyard (the former stables turned into a retail centre for the hotel) in the hope of catching up with Ingrid and John. We had heard that Ingrid had been ill so it came as no real surprise that her studio was closed. So we went to the hotel to have lunch but ended up visiting the restored abbey because it is so outstanding. I have attached photos of the:
• the entrance to the courtyard
• the abbey in the distance
• the grand hall
• the blue room restaurant and the hand-made silk wall paper costing 500 pound per metre
• a carving of “major oak” and
• examples of towel art


You can read more at website: http://www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk
There is reference in the tourist guides to the “the Dukeries” which is a reference to the 4 great ducal estates in the region south of Worksop. The Duke of Newcastle (Clumber House – no longer there) Duke of Portland (Welbeck Abbey – questionably there) the Duke of Kingston (Thoresby Hall) and the Duke of Norfolk (Worksop Manor). To find out more about the Dukeries and to get some lunch we went to Welbeck Abbey. We were puzzled by the crowds of people visiting this former abbey which is now just a group of shops selling plants to produce. Not worth the visit unfortunately and no photos.