Jo’s Monday walk : Newstead Abbey


Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire is the perfect setting for a Victorian period drama.  Yet I was unprepared for the small characters chattering excitedly in the grounds.  The Abbey itself, formerly the home of poet Lord Byron, was closed to visitors, but I had come seeking fresh air and a stroll in the lovely grounds. I had company, and naturally my daughter was fittingly dressed for the occasion. To the manor born, without a doubt.


A long drive sweeps up to the house, thick with rhododendrons and camelia.  There are over 300 acres of parkland and gardens, and cars can park quite near to the house.  Let’s save a little energy and sashay straight into the gardens.  A former monastic residence, the priory dates back to 1274.  I showcased the house and the Byron connection on a previous visit (and got to meet Santa!) if you’d like to know more.

The Garden Lake swells out in front of the house, and you can walk all around it.  The lakes, ponds and cascades that ornament these gardens are fed by the River Leen.  Pass by the unappetisingly named Monk’s Stew Pond (probably once a fishpond for the monks) to delve into the Fernery.

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The grotto has an interior made from Derbyshire tufa, whilst some of the old carved stones used in the Fernery probably came from the ruins of the priory church.  Built into the wall with the alcove were terracotta stands, for the display of potted ferns.

Bright berries gleam from the foliage and a drift of lemon whispers its presence in among the shrubs.  For all that this is a garden in winter, there is no lack of interest.  The rolling hedges are clipped pleasingly to the eye.  It’s so easy to meander among them, beguiled by shapes and shadows.

The formal shapes of the Rose Garden and Small Walled Garden invite closer inspection.  Both were once part of a two and a half acre kitchen garden.  In heated glasshouses, now demolished, grapes, melons, peaches and winter cucumbers were grown.  Even in a mild December, roses were few, but I liked the quirky mesh gardeners who kept us company.


A willow sculpture catches my eye, complete with bench.  Too late for THAT challenge, I’m afraid!

Behind the house, the Great Garden is a formal garden of terraced walks descending to a large rectangular pond.  Two swans splashed each other playfully, just out of range of my camera.  The adjacent French and Spanish gardens are among my favourites.  Every Spring in the 1830s and 40s the gardener laid fresh red and white sand, in intricate patterns, directly onto the soil in the French Garden.  It was affectionately known as the ’embroidery garden’.

The Boatswain’s Monument sits mournfully at the centre of the lawn, Byron’s tribute to his beloved Newfoundland dog.  The inscription speaks of ‘Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferocity, and all the Virtues of Man without his vices’.





Are you beginning to flag yet?  I believe the tearooms are open.  Muffins and gingerbread latte, before or after we tackle the lake?

The shadows are lengthening and there’s a hint of chill in the air.  Ominous clouds dot the sky so we won’t linger much longer.  It’s not the time of year to view the yellow water lily, wild angelica, water forget-me-not, corn mint and the many species that surround the Garden Lake, but it is still undeniably beautiful, don’t you think?


The Japanese garden with its lovely cascades is looking a little bedraggled, but we can still cross the stepping stones to admire the lanterns.  There’s one more feature I’ve left deliberately till the end, and someone’s waiting there to say goodbye.  Accompany me to the waterfall?

The gift shop, with its pretty things, was calling to my daughter.  We lingered just a shade too long, and came out into a deluge of a different kind! Brollies aloft, we scurried to the car.  The day ended with a magical double rainbow and I felt truly blessed.  I hope you have enjoyed our company today. (and that of the children from Woodthorpe school)

The Newstead Abbey website includes a detailed garden tour, which you might like to follow, plus details of how to get there.

You may already know that Jude has chosen to abandon her benches.  Sigh!  The challenge has run for a highly successful year, but it’s time to move on.  My Winter garden, though not quite what she was hoping for, is my first contribution to the new challenge.  I’ll definitely have to be honing my skills (or trying!)  Her first post is a stunner, but I won’t spoil it for you.  Go and look!

walking logo

Meanwhile, it’s time to get the kettle on and share a few more walks.  I hope that all of you, walkers or not, have enjoyed their Christmas break. Many thanks for all your contributions but, more importantly, your friendship.  Join me whenever you like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or the logo above.


First, come beach combing with Drake on the lovely little Danish island, Samsø :

Stone-washed path

There’s a certain fascination about a lighthouse, isn’t there?

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Jackie was still ‘down Mexico way’, hopefully enjoying the sunshine :

El Quelite, Mazatlan

Let me introduce you to a Slovenian Girl abroad, in Switzerland.  Such pretty photos!

Zurich in December

And a lovely lady in another good-looking place.  Please welcome Mitza to my walks :

A walk through Hamburg in Winter

Debbie has found a nice little beach, somewhere you might not expect :

A Seaside Walk in Edinburgh

While Jaspa would have me galloping this week!

Best. Crossing. Ever!- Santiago, Chile

This next isn’t a walk, and might be better suited to Jude’s Garden challenge, but I want to share it with you, courtesy of Debra :

Huntington Botanical Gardens and El Nino Watch 2016 

Some people can just always be relied on!  Walk with Gilly.  She’s a sweetheart!

Another Quay Perspective 

Brisbane and the rainforest is my final destination.  Thanks Lee Ann!

Moran Falls – Sculpture by Nature

That’s it for now!  Breathes big sigh!  If I’m slow responding this week it’s because I have Polish family visiting for a few days (including a very special uncle) but normality (ha!) will be restored on Thursday.  Take care till then!

P.S  Those lovely ladies at Monday Escapes are back if you have 5 minutes to wish them Happy New Year.



  1. Profound gratitude for referring me back to this: you know what gives me pleasure. I love the glimpses of Lisa: walking in so elegantly; behind the curtain of water; in the grotto – and that flash of lovely red hair. I love the muted colours in the first collage; the silhouettes towards the end; the mesh gardeners, especially the one sitting almost like a more active Rodin’s thinker with his fork; the stone bridge angled so beautifully in your composition. My favourite phrase? “a drift of lemon”. I like the notion of an embroidery garden. however the gingerbread latte is a reminder of how totally provincial I am. I might ask for one next time I go to Blue Earth! And I wouldn’t mind earning the epitaph given to Byron’s dog.

    The whole post reminds me of a Marvell poem. Do you know “The garden”?

    1. I don’t, but I will soon 🙂 (the poem) There are beautiful bits of England you will never see, Meg, so I’m doing my best to take you there. And in so doing, reminding myself what a privilege it is to be alive and full of life in this world. I’m so grateful that you notice and enjoy the little nuances. Thank you for being such a sweetheart. 🙂

  2. What a tough mother, locks the red-haired princess inside the dark dungeon
    only with a view of the running water from the moat.? – but I love the photo… 😀 😀 😀

    Amazing and inspiring walk – excellent captured… 🙂

      1. I have a sister 10 years younger than me – omved from home when she was 5 – when I visited parents and sister – they stopped their ‘bickering’ because they got upset when I was laughing at them – my father liked the peace which was the result… 😀

  3. What an enchanting and huge garden I loved all the photos and wandering around with you and your daughter. I think it will take more then those mesh men to keep it in such immaculate condition. Your daughter is to the manor born Jo and adds character to every shot she is in. Hope by now you are recovered from all your visitors and can put your feet up. Have you any major plans for 2016?

    1. Hi Pauline 🙂 Yes, it’s a real beauty of a garden. 🙂 The Polish family left yesterday lunchtime and called at Nottingham on their way back to Norfolk, to meet up with Lisa. I have to say it was nice to cook a stress free easy meal for me and Mick last night, though it was lovely to see them. Algarve for 12 days from 1st Feb, and Poland with Dad early May. The rest is all in my imagination 🙂 Settled back home now?

  4. Lisa goes so well with the ambiance 🙂 I have never had gingerbread latte. I would not mind tasting it. Great walk, Jo! I especially like those labouring sculptures.

    1. They’re not nice cold, Paula, or I would have saved you one 😦 She’s just been meeting a Polish uncle and his family in Nottingham and I was both nervous and excited for them. Hugs, darlin’! Hope life’s treating you a bit better 🙂

    1. Hi there! Hope you had a good Christmas break? Life has been pretty hectic for me this past week with Polish family visiting. Good to relax tonight, and catch up around the blogs. Thank you 🙂

  5. I’m back again, enjoyed the second tour, Jo. Love to see the beautiful photos of your daughter. Thank you for reminding Jude’s new theme. 🙂

  6. Jo, how beautiful …. if there is something you’re on i UK is to take care of all your history and magnificent castles .. and you have plenty of them. Stunning grounds and you have captured it so greatly. I can see that a special lady and I has the same hair color those day. I chosen the wrong package. *smile
    Just love the big image of from the lake … love the drama in it … Have a lovely Wednesday.

    1. Hello again, sweetheart 🙂 Marmalade hair, huh? Sounds fun! Thanks for making this an even better walk by sharing it with me. Happy scrubbing! No- you’ll just be sitting with a book, watching the clothes whirl around? Hugs, darlin’. 🙂

    1. England has more than it’s share of ancestral homes but I do especially like this one. Probably having my daughter live nearby makes a difference 🙂 Many thanks for your visit.

  7. What a wonderful place to walk Jo, just love the brooding sky over the lake and your daughter so beautiful. The other ‘visitors’ are wonderful, you find the most inviting places, all year round. I feel refreshed just reading through and taking in all your visuals 🙂 I’m making a tentative return to blogging, but very slow. I feel a bit stuck, sigh…but good to see you on FB and keep in touch one way or another. I just wanted to pop in and say hello..and share a cuppa with you at the wonderful tea shop 🙂 xx

    1. Hi sweetheart 🙂 I’m low on energy this evening after a full on day of entertaining and another to come tomorrow. I’ve even succumbed to the red wine and I never drink on Tuesday 🙂 Going for a soak in the bath with my book soon. Happy New year, Sherri! Glad to have you back, however tentatively.

  8. (I realize that I’ve just commented but mistaking the post …!)
    Well , I want you to know that I’m fascinated by your shots and enjoy your articles a lot …

  9. Another set of amazing photos Jo, you have some lovely contrasts with shadows and silhouettes, and what an amazing looking place. So much to feel inspired by and wonderful dramatic light to top it all off!

    1. It was one of those perfect winter’s days, Seonaid. They’ve been scarce these last few weeks so I felt quite privileged. (and I was in good company 🙂 ) Thank you!

  10. What a stunning place and you’re right, it does have that kind of Victorian feel. Every time I see your gorgeous daughter, I think of Alice in Wonderland. She would have fitted right for the role of Alice in the movie. 😀

    I love this garden and that mesh statues are just adorable!

    Yes, I was beginning to flag. Thanks for the tasty muffins and latte. It was delicious! 😆

    Loved the lake and the waterfall and the stunning shots you took Jo. Thanks for this wonderful walk. ♥

    1. Morning, Sonel 🙂 I’m nursing my coffee to keep warm and the rain is tap, tap, tapping but I can always escape into the blog 🙂 We don’t spend much time together, me and Lisa, so what we have is precious. For me, this is the perfect setting for her. Thanks for all your lovely comments.

      1. Oooh nice! You know I love rain. Where are those teleporters when you need them! Darn!!!

        I can see that and times like that you just make the best of it, and it’s just what you did darling. 😀

        It sure is. She fits perfectly into it. 😀

        You are very welcome. Have a lovely day and send some rain my way please. ♥

  11. Thank you, Jo. I feel honored to be included in your list of “walks,” and I’ll have to take a look to see what Jude is doing this year. As you know, we Americans are completely “taken” with Downton Abbey, and because our PBS stations continue to tease us with tours of castles and abbeys, Newstead Abbey offers a walk I really enjoyed taking with you. It’s very special. And I love seeing where your beautiful daughter pops up. What a fun day! 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Debbie. 🙂 I always try to tweet and share posts that I enjoy and I really felt that I wanted to share yours here. A couple of people have suggested that they can’t ‘like’ it from their phones but have enjoyed reading anyway. Have a good week! It’s wet (sorry!!) here and I’m off to start preparing for company.

  12. I must have gone to Newstead Abbey many time when I was growing up. I don’t remember the gardens being as beautiful as shown in your photos. Love the sculptures. What fun! Your waterfall pics are sublime, as is that Gingerbread Latte. What a tease you are, Jo. 😕

    1. I do think they’ve improved over time, Ad (and Anabel made a similar remark). I’ve been going for quite a lot of years and I don’t remember the topiary or the high standard of maintenance. But mostly, for me, it was a pleasure to be there with Lisa. 🙂

  13. Looking at that peaceful garden, all I could think of was a poem by Byron, “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, There is a rapture on the lonely shore, There is society where none intrudes, By the deep sea, and music in its roar: I love not man the less, but Nature more.”

    1. Yes, that would fit pretty well 🙂 We were lucky to have the place pretty much to ourselves (give or take a few dozen small persons 🙂 )
      Thank you for your support and for the lovely New Year wishes in your email. A new book in 2016?

  14. Always love exploring gardens and I was thrilled to stumble upon your post and read about your experience. Love the photos you have of the leaves changing color and the flowers in autumn! Would love to explore it in person, it looks like a huge garden that’s a visual feast for the eyes!

    1. It’s beautiful inside! All wood floors, paneling and sumptuousness 🙂 (the link right near the beginning takes you inside, to meet Santa, but it’s too late for presents 🙂 ) And I think there are plenty of folks about still who live in the lap of luxury- just a different style.

  15. I just saw this post on Facebook and I wondered, why didn’t I get this in my emails? Then I realized I hadn’t seen posts from you for quite a while and had assumed you were just busy over the holidays. When I looked, I saw I wasn’t following you!! How did that happen? Anyway, I’m back and now I have a lot of catching up to do!

    What a lovely walk. It’s nice to see your daughter; I’m sure it was great to visit her and have her along. Those photos of the small walled garden, with that gorgeous light, are fabulous. What a mesmerizing place!! Happy New Year, Jo!

    1. I thought you hadn’t been around for a while, but likewise I thought you were just busy (especially when I saw you’d had family troubles). WP gremlins at it again- or maybe just when you switched back to your American site? Not to worry- catch up when you can, Cathy. I’m going to be short on time this week. Just spent a fraught hour or two getting James packed back off to Leeds after 2 weeks hols. Cooking and stuff to do for tomorrow/Wednesday. Still love ya! 🙂

      1. I have no idea what happened, Jo. It wasn’t when I switched to my American site, because I did that long ago and I was still getting email notifications on yours. Glad you got James packed up and out. We’re getting ready to move Adam to Richmond on Friday. It’s been more than a little stressful trying to get him organized. I think he’s ready to go and we’re ready for him to go!! Living with your parents at age 23 is no fun, and I was long gone by his age! Adult children really should not be living with their parents!!

  16. Ooh I’m spellbound here, it’s divine! The bridge, the grotto and the pudding trees and then the mesh people. Best of all your daughter and the willow bench, she looks like she’s stepped out of a Titian. Absolute magic babe!

  17. You’d never really think it was December from the looks of your photos (apart from a few bare tree branches). Looks like a great place to visit; fortunate the cafe was was still open in winter! #Mondayescapes

    1. Thanks for your visit! 🙂 It has been really mild but these gardens have lots of evergreens too so they don’t look so bleak. Cafe’s are almost an institution on my Monday walks 🙂

  18. I’m amazed how green is this place in December. Seems like winter hasn’t arrived there yet. 🙂
    Another great Monday Walk Jo! Thanks for featuring my blog and my Zürich walk. Much appreciated! 🙂 Happy New Year! 🙂

    1. It’s been really mild this year, but many of the trees are evergreen so there’s a good splash of colour year round. You’re very welcome, Urska! It just seemed to fit so well with my walks 🙂

    1. Hi Amy! I’ve missed you! 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful Christmas break, and many thanks for your contribution. I remember Clearwater Beach from quite a long while ago :).

  19. Hi Jo,
    Nottinghamshire is a part of England that’s still on my bucket list as so fas, in all my “English travels”, I’ve only passed through. All the more thanks for taking me there with you. 🙂
    Have a great week,

  20. Splutter!! What do you mean, not what I am looking for? This is perfection on a platter! What is not to love about a walk around a garden in the winter months? Of course it is easier for grand places like this to look good all year round as they can indulge in the hard landscaping and topiary, but I am not complaining. I have sighed my way through your post. Newstead Abbey. On the list! Thank you Jo, for linking your walk with my challenge. I look forward to more… (walks and gardens) 🙂

    1. I will try to comply more closely, with individual posts as opposed to linking to a walk, but this one had your name written all over it the second we passed through the gates. Glad you like it. Hopefully back to chat later 🙂 🙂

  21. Jo, Newstead Abbey’s mesh sculptures add such a playful element to these elegant gardens. Was it a kind of chicken coop mesh, do you think? I know I’m probably late to discovering it (I’ll blame that on moving to Malta these past months!), but I like the new streamlined look of your site, too. 🙂 Wish you all the best in 2016.

    1. Hi Tricia! 🙂 Nice to catch up with you again. Are you settled in Malta for a while? I’ll have to come and look around. 🙂
      Yes, chicken wire’s a good guess. Thanks for the kind words. I went ‘bare’ when I ran out of photo memory a while ago and decided to upgrade. I did mean to put back some of the ‘bits’- Facebook and such- but I still haven’t got around to it and I do prefer this look. Happy 2016 to you too!

  22. Beautiful walk, Jo. Lovely sky, too. Must have been a good day for it. I visited the Abbey and Huntington as well but my phone doesn’t seem to like liking when I follow a link. I enjoyed them just the same.

    1. Thanks a lot, Carol 🙂 I have the same sort of issues with my phone. It only seems to be partial to WP. Strange that! I mostly use my laptop 🙂
      It was one of those ‘squeezed in’ sunny days amidst the grey. I found another one for next week’s walk too 🙂 Lucky, or what?

  23. Hard to imagine these places were once private residences; so expansive. And hooray for your lilac pyjamas, and your daughter’s glorious hair. I love a bit of colour flashing about the place.

    1. Much needed colour right now, Ann! Everywhere seems to be grey 😦 Never mind, soon be Spring (I hope! I’ll be in the Algarve briefly from 1st Feb so I can anticipate a little 🙂 )

  24. Love the mesh gardeners and that opening photo really captured so much! Also your daughter’s artsy hair adds something to each photo she is in – lovely place and thx for the walk restless one!

    1. I thoroughly enjoyed it too, Yvette. 🙂 That’s Leo in the shot walking through the gates. It doesn’t necessarily look like a ‘couple’ shot, so I thought I’d tell you 🙂 The kids were really cute! Not sure what it was in aid of but it looked fun 🙂

  25. Liebe Jo, hab herzlichen Dank für diese wunderbare Welt über Kultur, Natur und Geschichte von Newstead Abbey, die Du in deinen formidablen Bildern uns näher bringst. Hab eine frohe gute Woche. Viele liebe Greetings Ernst

    1. It’s one of her favourite places around Nottinghamshire, Jill. We’ve been a couple of times before and it’s always lovely (even when it rained- though we did get out of there pretty swiftly 🙂 ).

  26. What a fantastic day out with your daughter, Jo. I love this and had no idea it was Byron’s home. The gardens are amazing and so varied. The mesh gardeners struck me particularly, so real you almost want to go and have a chat with them. If I’m ever in the area I will visit!

  27. That must have been a marvellous day, Jo. Your first shot is a great opener to the walk, and all of the others are brilliant. It’s hard to beat a winter’s day if it has sun – the low light is lovely and gives those wonderful shadows. It’s a wonder they didn’t get your daughter to stay on in that perfect outfit! I hope your week, and your Polish, goes well!

  28. Just a stunning day out, Jo. Splendid photos. And I’d love a team of mesh gardeners at the allotment. I wonder if I could fill them with leaves, and eventually they’d become leaf mould dispensers…And gingerbread latte – good heavens. Who invented that naughty item?

    1. Tish, that’s a splendid idea! They look a bit ‘new’ at the moment. I like the one who’s leaning, looking tired of life 🙂
      Hmm- it was definitely naughty 🙂 Thanks, hon. Bashing onward into 2016!

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