Ravenshead Nottinghamshire NG15 8NA
Newstead Abbey, ten miles north of Nottingham, is famous as the one-time home of Lord Byron, who inherited the estate in 1798. In truth, it was something of a poisoned chalice: the estate was in decline and the family home, which occupied the converted monastic buildings, was in disrepair. Byron spent six years in residence here (1808–1814), repairing and restoring as funds allowed, though the house you see today, which adjoins the shattered ruins of the medieval church, dates from the late nineteenth century. It contains an intriguing collection of Byron memorabilia, not least his pistols and boxing gloves, and behind it is a delightful walled garden and a fancy memorial to Byron’s dog, Boatswain. In front of the house is a lake channels down into some beautifully maintained gardens, a secretive and subtle combination of yew tunnels, Gothic waterfalls and Japanese-style rockeries adorned by idiosyncratic pagodas.