If you are visiting Newstead Abbey because of Lord Byron, you have no excuse for not taking the 5 mile detour to St Mary Magdalene Church at Hucknall to see the final resting place of the poet and the Byron family.
It’s been a few years since I was last there (probably 10 in fact). In the meantime the church has been blessed with a Lottery funded grant and they have transformed their privileged position as the location of the Byron vault into a major pin on the map.
A substantial information point which covers not only Byron’s connection to the church but its wider colourful history is accompanied by a more focused last resting place. When I was last there the spot was covered by the choir stalls. Now, a wooden coffin shaped box stands over the exact place. It includes a cut out so you can see the actual stone slab that covers the tomb and an illuminated case which contains something rather fascinating. …
In December last year a contemporary ceramic wreath, a copy of the one that was at Byron’s funeral, returned from being carefully cleaned and restored. It used to sit high up on the wall in a glass dome and had become black over the years. Now, it’s an impressive centre piece lovingly returned to its home.
The church prides itself on its Byron connection. It is open 6 days a week to visitors and when I was there at the end of November Carol Lear, the Steward, was on hand to answer questions. Of course, I quickly regaled her with my connection to Byron and we had a wonderful two hours discussing the various aspects of his life and times over very welcome cups of tea. She also talked me through the incredible collection of stained glass which the church has. It really is a very picturesque place.
It’s important the people visit St Mary Magdalene. In order to secure future grants and continue to provide the services they do, they need to show that visitors see the value in it. A visitor book is the evidence that we care that this place exists. If you go, please sign it. This is a unique place that deserves your attention and your patronage and I for one am very grateful that it exists.
You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.