Still Life at Newstead Abbey…

On this very day in 1811, our Poet was firing off a letter to his close friend John Cam Hobhouse as he languished inside his crumbling ancestral seat at Newstead Abbey – home to the notorious and profligate Byron family since the Reformation and which lies in the heart of Sherwood Forest in Nottingham. Some years later and with my own life having undergone a recent and dramatic change, I returned to Newstead Abbey on a beautiful September afternoon - albeit with less despondency...

It’s Daggers at Dawn!

On the evening of Monday July 5 he attended a 'Small Waltzing Party - 10 o'clock at the home of Lady Heathcote despite his intense dislike for the 'fashionable Waltz' on account of his lameness and for his disdain for anything remotely fashionable. That he had attended a party only days before that had all 'the refuse of the Regent & the Red book - Bedfords - Jerseys - Ossulstones - Greys & the like' also did very little to deter him! And that he might bump into Lady Caroline Lamb, his aggrieved and furious former lover whom he had been anxiously avoiding several days earlier was yet another futile deterrent. Byron's most recent paramour Lady Oxford had sailed out of his life with her husband at the end of June and although he had been reunited with his half- sister Augusta Leigh, he was making plans to go abroad AGAIN...

Stone Me! Such a Pretentious Poseur!

John Cam Hobhouse inspired by his love of classical antiquity had commissioned the fashionable Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen to make a portrait bust of his 'dearest friend' during their visit to Rome in May 1817. One wonders if he had to try hard to persuade his 'dearest friend' to actually sit for Thorvaldsen as the first meeting between the artist and Byron was one of wry amusement on the part of one and studied indifference by the other...

Far from the Scenes of Birth and Youth…

In the days following the news of Lord Byron’s death in Greece on April 19 1824; his young widow had written a poem which tells of her sorrow that on his death bed her exiled spouse had asked that a message be brought to her – a message the faithful valet William Fletcher had been unable to understand. The effort was made, but all, all, was in vain And dark is that page which he sought to explain… And some 36 years later on the day before her 68th birthday and with her beloved granddaughter and namesake Anne Isabella Noel King by her side; Annabella died in the early morning hours of Wednesday May 16 1860 while staying at 11 St George’s Terrace in Primrose Hill, North London from Bronchitis and Pleurisy after suffering from the effects of a prolonged illness throughout most of the Spring and NOT from breast cancer as is often erroneously reported...

Thursday’s Angel Child HAS Far to Go!

More than 227 years have now passed since that ‘involuntary Act of coming into the World’ for May 17 is the birthday of Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron, the Poet’s ‘Princess of Parallelograms’, his wife of a mere 54 weeks and the woman he later said was ‘born for my destruction.’ Born on Ascension Day May 17 1792 in County Durham, she was the cherished only child of Sir Ralph and the Hon. Judith Milbanke who had lived through a marriage of over 15 years, childlessness and hope in anticipation of the arrival of their ‘’little angel’. The adored baby was given the prosaic names of Anne Isabella in honour of her royal godmother the Duchess of Cumberland and Mrs. George Baker who had tended to Judith's confinement at Elemore Hall while the completion of the Milbanke's new house overlooking the wild coast at Seaham was still underway...

Blest Her! The Angel Suffers No More…

... Oh! my God! how has my poor Child been sacrificed! not only to a wicked, but unmanly Creature! her only Error, too strong an attachment to him, and how has he rewarded it!"The agitated author of this letter was the Hon. Judith Noel to Augusta Leigh in the dying days of January 1816 as the marriage separation between her beloved only daughter and Lord Byron became increasingly acrimonious and as the latter prepared for a life in exile far away from the marital home of 13 Piccadilly Terrace in London.Luckily for Byron's 'Dearest Sis', this letter was never sent and also for Annabella as Judith had been quite mistaken in her distraught prediction about her 'poor child's' imminent demise for not only did Annabella survive her estranged spouse by some 36 years but also that of both her parents, the Hon. Augusta Leigh by some 9 years and even that of her only daughter Ada who would die in her thirty-sixth year in November 1851, some 8 years previously...

MAY You Marry in Haste?

"Mr Farquar of Doctor’s Commons has a copy of the certificate of my marriage which he got from Bath…..I was married however on the 12th or 13th May (I don’t know which..." It is interesting that Byron’s mother should have been unsure as to the precise date of her fated marriage to John Byron in the year 1785. With her Scottish ancestry for omens and superstition perhaps Catherine’s confusion is understandable for she did indeed marry ‘Mad Jack’ Byron on Friday May 13 and by all accounts their brief marriage was a disaster.

I Have Suffered! Can It EVER Be Known?

On April 21, Byron penned one of his last letters to his 'Dearest Augusta' as he made plans to leave his home and his life in England behind him. He had signed the deed of separation on the afternoon of Sunday April 21 1816 signifying the end of his brief year-long marriage to Annabella and from the fatherhood of his five-month old daughter Ada. He left 13 Piccadilly Terrace on April 23, St George's Day, bound for Dover and finally departed from England on Thursday April 25 and was never to see Augusta, Annabella or Ada again...

A Visit to the Pilgrim of Eternity…

It was as I was photographing the wonderful tribute to Byron that I suddenly became aware of a huge, crashing noise and which turned out to be the most torrential thunderstorm and as the storm threatened to bring down the very rafters of the church, I thought it all rather prophetic that I should find myself confined to a place within feet of Byron who had breathed his last as mother nature had raged around the town of Missolonghi on this very day in 1824...

I Once More Remind You I Am YOUR Child!

"Lady Byron, proposed that I should accompany her to Paris, and remain with her for a time I did so.....at Fontainebleau.... Lady Byron informed me of the cause of the deep interest she felt and must ever feel, for me. Her husband had been my father..." The author of this missive is one Elizabeth Medora Leigh writing about the kindness of her aunt Lady Byron who had just informed her that her father was none other than the celebrated poet and also her uncle, Lord Byron. Born on this day April 15 in 1814, her mother was the Hon. Augusta Mary Byron who had married her cousin Colonel George Leigh and Elizabeth Medora as she was baptised was their fourth child and arguably the most notorious.

Lady Melbourne Braves Opinion!

"Lady Melbourne the best and kindest female I ever knew" ~ Lord Byron. Educated, attractive and with a talent for ambition Elizabeth Milbanke would soon move away from provincial Yorkshire and by 1769 had married Peniston Lamb, a wealthy, foolish and easy going lawyer and as she worked hard to advance the fortune and the prestige of her family, she would become became one of the most celebrated Society Hostesses on behalf of the Whig Party...

A Pinch OR a Punch St Patrick?

Céad Míle Fáilte! I wish you one hundred thousand welcomes in Gaelic for today is St Patrick's Day! On St Patrick's Day in 1814 some 205 years ago and on this very day, it is likely that Byron would also have enjoyed some alcohol consumption during the course of the day; however, as delightful as the idea is, we cannot be sure if he actually 'pinched' anyone. But what we do know is that he was without any doubt 'punching' somebody on that day!

A Rage Against the Machine…

Today, February 27 was the day that my mother was delivered of me some years ago and a few years before that, Lord Byron delivered his maiden speech in the House of Lords. Yes, indeed on this very day some 207 years ago, our poet spoke out in 'A Rage Against the Machine' as he identified with the Luddite cause and claiming to be as penniless as those he supported, he sought the support of Lord Holland as the leader of the Whigs to address the House and to voice his opposition to the introduction of the death penalty...

Dearest Duck, It’s Over! Love Pippin…

Even though we are now only in the second day of February, there is already an abundance of red hearts of all sizes adorning the windows of the local shops and restaurants and there are even Edible Love Hearts on offer as a Valentine's Day treat for our local pooches! Yes, February is the month for a profusion of chocolates, expensive red roses and some very dubious Valentine's cards but oh, what a month of anticipation as Cupid's Arrow flies forth! However, sadly not for our poet as February 1816 would be the month that his wife Lady Byron, the former Annabella Milbanke would ditch him!