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Stunning Gardens and A Fantastic Wedding Venue
Newstead Abbey (Nottingham)
Member Name: lil_missgiggles
Newstead Abbey (Nottingham)
Date: 28/02/08, updated on 28/02/08 (1029 review reads)
Advantages: Lots to see, beautiful grounds
I got married at Newstead Abbey on the most glorious summer day in July 2006. Contrary to popular belief, this is not actually an abbey any more.
A little bit of history sourced from the Newstead Abbey website (www.newsteadabbey.org.uk):
"Newstead Abbey, best known as the former home of the poet Lord Byron, was originally an Augustinian priory founded by Henry II in about 1170. A small religious community existed there until Henry VIII dissolved the monastery in 1539. In the following year, Henry granted Newstead to the poet's ancestor, Sir John Byron, who converted the priory into a house for his family."
There is lots more history to this house, but that explains the name and the connection to Lord Byron. I feel that this is the most important history of the house and the rest of it is a bit long winded so I will just advise you that if you are interested, it is possibly best to have a look at the website otherwise my review will go on for ever!
I visited the House many times as a child and have wonderful memories of our family times there. It has the most gorgeous gardens and you can easily spend a whole day there, walking around the lakes and different gardens that the grounds include. The gardens include The Fern Garden, Rockery, Sub-Topical Garden, Spanish Garden and Japanese Garden. There is also the beautiful Rose Garden. For many visits we discovered lots of new things and paths that lead to more and more beautiful views, lakes and waterfalls. There is even a childrens play area with lots of wooden swings and things to keep the kids occupied.
You can easily set up a picnic anywhere in the grounds but in more recent visits, me and my family normally chose to sit near to the Mirror pond on the back of the abbey, or on the main lawn to the front but where ever you sit, you are guaranteed to have a beautiful view. There is also a little cafe in the main house and a gift shop. I think that the cafe is quite expensive but you can buy such things as a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a sandwich or an ice cream so it is always nice to pop in and have a little refresher. Just outside the cafe is a little courtyard where the peacocks often come and sit while you eat or drink.
Off of the main road, between my town of Mansfield and the city of Nottingham, there is a long driveway up to the house, past lots of posh peoples houses (all tucked away behind the trees, just the driveways peeping out to remind you that some people really do have it all). Just as you head out of the trees and can see the abbey in front of you, there is a carpark to your right. Its not the biggest carpark in the world and can get quite full so its always best to get there early. The main carpark is a few hundred metres from the house but there is a disabled carpark and access just in front of the building. If you were thinking of visiting and are disabled, I would recommend phoning and checking the parking first as the driveway is closed off as a rule and someone does have to move the barriers. Admission to the gardens is £3 per adult and for the house and gardens is £6. It is slightly less for children and the elderly and there are family and group rates also available. We tend to only pay to see the grounds as theres only so much to see in the house and after a couple of times its just a waste of time.
If you did choose to visit the house itself, you can visit the old library, great hall, cloistors and the chapel. Also the Lord Byrons private apartments and furniture etc. There is also a dressing up room, where you can have fun trying on the replica period costumes. Unfortunately, the Orangary is not open to the general public but can be viewed by appointment if you wish to hire it for a wedding. Several parts of the house can also be hired for corporate events.
In 2005, after 7 years of being together and 2 kids, me and my then partner decided to make it official. Marriage has always been important to me but never affordable. We met young and the kids came along so we couldn't afford the wedding I had always dreamt of. We visited Newstead as a family day out and driving through the lane up to the abbey I turned to my partner and said "we have got to get married here". It's the most magical place and the perfect setting for the fairy tale wedding that I dreamt of. I was very lucky that my Dad offered to pay for the bulk of my wedding, so Newstead was booked for the following 15th July.
I wont go into all the costs and everything of a ceremony there but if you were considering it, send me a message and I would be pleased to help you.
As I am not a particularly religious person, Newstead Abbey was the perfect option as we had a civil ceremony there. The ceremony itself is set in the beautiful orangery, which is a room that, surprisingly, used to be used to grow citrus fruits in. The room is large enough to take 100 guests.
The orangary is entered from the Cloistors, where your guests walk around a beautiful garden where the monks apparently used to go to sit and contemplate. What does a monk contemplate I wonder? There is also disabled access from the side of the house and a ramp up to the orangary. The room itself is painted a deep orangey colour and has antique paintings to the wall and all its original features. It's not quite what my Grandma expected when she came to my wedding at an "abbey"! It has two big overpowering windows which let in lots of sunlight but the room can be quite cool, even in the summer. I have found a virtual tour on this site but am unsure if the room has been redocorated slightly since then:
www.bbc.co.uk/nottingham/360/wheretogo/newstead_a bbey/orangery.sht ml
After the ceremony you are lead out directly into the gorgeous gardens for the photos and believe me, there are plenty of places for you to have your photos taken. I chose a photographer who had lots of experience of the abbey so I could make sure that the grounds were being used in their fullness.
Should you visit?
Basically my answer to this question is yes. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth a look. If you are interested in history there is lots to see in the house but if you just want a nice relaxing day, why not spend it in the gardens? You can take dogs but they must be kept on their leads. We enjoy visiting the grounds quite regularly and it is always a lovely day out. Theres not a great deal to do for younger kids but my 2 like to run around and we always find time for a play in the park too. There are lots of fun days also on throughout the year, including Newstead by night in the winter, where there are lots of spooky tales of the white lady who is said to haunt the house. The dates are posted on the website and the events depend on the time of year.
If you are considering Newstead for a wedding venue, I would highly recommend it. It has the best grounds in the area and for guests who are not local, there are plenty of good hotels nearby. The staff at Newstead Abbey are very helpful and polite and I couldn't fault them either on the day or in the lead up. On the downside, it is quite expensive and I couldn't hold my reception there as the room was already booked for an event which was a bit of a pain and some days there are up to 3 weddings taking place. I was very lucky that there was only one other wedding the same date as mine and it was much earlier so didn't make any difference to us. The staff do try to make sure weddings do not interfere with each other but I am sure if theres one party going out as another comes in, it cant be quite as special.
Also posted on Ciao under my user name lizngaz
Summary: A beautiful place to visit and a dream wedding venue
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