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Newstead Abbey, best
known as the former home of the poet Lord Byron,
was originally an Augustinian priory founded by
Henry II in about 1170. A small religious community
existed there until Henry VIII dissolved the monastery
in 1539. In the following year, Henry granted Newstead
to the poet's ancestor, Sir John Byron, who converted
the priory into a house for his family.
John Byron and his successors kept much of the monastic
and layout so that, to this day, the house retains
its medieval character. The most famous survival
is the west front of the church, which dates from
the late 13th century, with its statue of St Mary,
to whom the priory was dedicated.The monastic chapter
house also survives and has been used as a chapel
since the time of the Byrons.
spent this wealth repairing and restoring Newstead,
which was in a very poor state when he bought it.
Like the Byrons before him, Wildman preserved the
medieval style of the house. He employed the architect
John Shaw to carry out alterations which blend well
with the oldest parts
of the building.
in historic houses
can linger over displays and reading material in
the Library, or marvel at the expansive panelling
in the Great Hall, all reputed to have come from
a single oak tree!