My favourite places, Newstead Abbey
I’ve recently been asked to put together my favourite place in Nottinghamshire. This has been incredibly hard for me as my wife likens me to Bruce Forsyth on Strictly Come Dancing – whichever happens to be around at that moment is my favourite. If push really came to shove, Newstead Abbey would definitely be one the front runners.
At this point I’d have to declare that Newstead and I have some minor history. My general introduction to the park has been the cricket pitch which lies to the left of the house as you approach it from the car park.
I’ve played cricket at Newstead Abbey a few times and each time it has been an absolute joy, rain or shine. There is a narrow boundary at the back end of the field meaning useful runs when you’re batting and an incentive to keep a good length when bowling – which I hardly ever manage. The trees marking the boundary edge at the front end of the pitch make for a lovely setting.
Yet not everyone really considers cricket great for family days out, so I’m going to go on about what I really like about the place. Without doubt the one big draw for me is the Japanese Gardens which is a fantastic amble around some beautiful plants and trees. You’ll also find yourself taking stepping stones across brooks and streams as you make your way around this idyllic place.
The lake that features at the side of the house is home to a wide array of water lilies and the welcome to the gardens is extremely pleasant. On a good summers day, the place is a real sun trap too and you may find the odd peacock strutting about in the gardens or near the café.
As the Japanese gardens hold a wide variety of Acers and Maples, Newstead Abbey really comes alive on an autumn day with beautiful deep reds and oranges to be seen across the gardens. I’ve managed to take a few personal photos of the gardens at the Abbey but if anyone out there has landscape shots from this year we’d love to receive them.
I could go on about the Lord Byron connection and how he lived on the state for a short while before the infamous travels across Europe. When Byron took up Newstead Abbey in disrepair back in the early 1800’s, he kept wild animals on the park and used areas for sport.
I can imagine that even in the run down conditions that Byron lived among, Newstead Abbey would still have been an inspiration to the Romantic poet as it is for many people today.