The Second Newstead Abbey Partnership Symposium

Monday 11th July 2016

Attended by:

Nottingham City Council

Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature

Lowdham Local History Society

The Sherwood Forest Trust

Poet in Residence at the Abbey, Becky Cullen

Newstead Abbey teaching Team

Mansfield U3A Local History Group

Our hosts Nottingham City Council at Newstead Abbey gave us privileged access, and a short tour of the House was hosted by Heritage Asst, and Vice Chair of NAP David Newport, while Philip Jones led us on a tour of the wonderful gardens.

Throughout the day each organisation presented information about their own history and purpose. Common themes soon began to emerge. Shared interests and appreciation for local history ensured that hitherto unknown facts sparked ideas within the audience and there was a lively dialogue.

In the Cloisters

In the Cloisters with leader David Newport

Newstead Abbey is not just the geographic centre of Nottinghamshire it is also the ‘jewel in the crown’, says the World Monument Fund.

In the Great Garden - the North Terrace border

In the Great Garden – the North Terrace border.

In the great Garden - Volunteer Gardeners needed

In the Great Garden – Volunteer Gardeners needed


By Boatswain's Tomb

By Boatswain’s Tomb

















In the plenary session the following issues were summarized:

Newstead Abbey is a HERITAGE site of significance. It has a unique history, its past informs its present and this must be recognised and preserved into the future. It spans centuries and the footprint of the past is still visible today. It has an archive and objects that are precious and yet remain undiscovered to many.

Newstead Abbey has an obvious INTERNATIONAL dimension which is clearly established by the support from WMF and UNESCO. The abbey has direct links with Greece, Jamaica, Japan, Spain and yet it is local too, with a strong sense of being rooted in Nottinghamshire as a site where people visited as children and return to throughout their lives. The love of the abbey passes from generation to generation.

Newstead Abbey is a centre for EDUCATION. It already has its own programme of working with schools but there is much more to offer directly and indirectly. The stimulation of learning by doing and engaging the senses was identified as a way to excite not just young people but people of all ages trough their encounters at the abbey.

Newstead Abbey is a site of COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT. All the groups involved used events, festivals, visits, speakers and volunteers to enhance experiential participation and learning. Newstead Abbey can be involved and is increasing its own repertoire of events.

An area identified for improvement was RAISING AWARENESS. So much was learned from each other during the day that we were bound to conclude that the symposium had fulfilled its purpose of increasing awareness about the abbey and its potential. NAP would be offering to link with partners through our website to continue the flow of information and to strengthen relationships with organisations who share a common commitment to local heritage, literature and learning that can all happen at Newstead Abbey.

The Chairman Patrick Candler gave a vote of thanks to organisers and participants for a brilliant day.

Listening to a poem read by Becky Cullen on the grand staircase

Listening to a poem read by Becky Cullen on the grand staircase

Report and Images by Julia Hodson


South Stair Bow Window

We roll out the glinting tapestry

and shake; it sings into place, shrugs

its sharpness into the lancet bay.

A sheet of diamonds, carnelian-edged,

squares of berry and caged jay

scored and ground and bound in bronze.

It is geometry –

rotates like semaphore, or clocks.

Becky Cullen reading her poem

Becky Cullen reading her poem


They’ve been circling since the first buds,

pass on the staircase, beneath the panes

of cooled quartz, dress while outside

a feather catches on a casement snick.

Tension and reaction hold the glass

in place. Inside, it’s moving.

Becky Cullen

Poet in Residence at Newstead Abbey

Bust of Byron on the Grand Staircase

Bust of Byron on the Grand Staircase

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