Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire has a rich past. First, it was an Augustinian priory, built in the late 12th century until the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. Converted into a country house, Newstead Abbey became the ancestral home to the Byron family including the famous poet, Lord Byron (1788-1824). By then, the Abbey was in serious disrepair and Byron viewed Newstead as a romantic ruin, a metaphor for his family's fall. He wrote:
'Thro' thy battlements, Newstead, the hollow winds whistle;
Thou, the hall of my fathers, art gone to decay.'
The gardens were extensively landscaped in the 18th century by the 4th Lord Byron and with the parkland, cover more than 300 acres with paths which meander past lakes and waterfalls fed by the river Leen. In winter, when the mist slowly rises, the topiary of the large walled garden and Spanish garden provide plenty of interest, especially on a frosty day. The large walled garden which occupies the old kitchen garden is planted with beautiful yew cones of various sizes as well as clipped Pyrus salicifolia, the willow leaved pear tree. Closer to the house, the Spanish Garden is a Victorian interpretation of a box parterre, filled with lavender.