On the 18th June 2016 eleven members of NAP were taken from the cellars to the attics at Newstead Abbey through rooms and spaces not normally open to the public.
We were led by Haidee Jackson, curator of the abbey. She was enthusiastic, and extremely knowledgeable about the history of the building, the contents, how they had been changed over the last 200 years and more, and pointed out all kinds of minute details as we moved around.
A copy of the main floor plan of the abbey, as it was in the sale book for 1860 when Mrs Wildman sold the property, shows the building work accomplished by Colonel Wildman between about 1820 and 1860. Each member of the group had their own copy, plus a less detailed plan of the upper floors from the same sale book:
The tour started in the Kitchen built by Colonel Wildman in the 1820s. It was modelled on the monastic kitchens of the medieval period:
One of the oldest items in the kitchen was a mortar thought to be from the period of the first Lord Byron:
From here the tour moved down to the cellars, under the café.
On returning to the ground floor we saw the dairy, now the Garden Shop, and viewed the decorated ceiling and niches:
The tour continued with the south-west wing two floors above the cafe (the servants accommodation) and the minstrels’ Gallery in the Great Hall:
On the the upper floor of the south wing we visited the room where Dr Livingstone stayed, and various rooms where the Nottingham City Collection of Costumes and Lace is stored. From the billiard room there was a view over the stable block and lake through the cylindrical window:
The whole of the mezzanine floor on the south side of the abbey was where the housekeeper and butler lived, including the silver room (a kind of safe for valuables leading from the butler’s room) with its massive key fitting a central lock in the middle of the doorway:
At one point we ascended the Sussex tower and saw the very steep steps and ladder to the flagpole. No one ventured up them for the view!
The final phase of the tour took us to the room where the mother of Lord Byron the poet is thought to have died; the attic rooms in the east wing (rooms for servants originally, and later for guests of the Webb family); and the high attic for the old nursery.
The Partnership is very grateful to Haidee Jackson for leading the group in a most interesting and informative way, and our vice-chairman, David Newport, for arranging the tour.
Report & Pictures: Derek Wileman