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...

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...

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...

Past Agony? Take a Stroll Along Piccadilly!

We mean to metropolize to-morrow, and you will address your next to Piccadilly. We have got the Duchess of Devon’s house there, she being in France… Lord Byron Last November I too 'metropolized' to London for a few days and on one quiet and chilly afternoon after a quick rendezvous with Lord Byron in Bennet Street, I went for a stroll along Piccadilly to take a lingering look at the abode which was the scene of his short and difficult union with the unfortunate former Annabella Milbanke AND the inspiration for the creation of Byron's abode - albeit in 12th scale!

A Melancholy, ‘Honeft Man’…

Byron was noted for his open manner and of his tendency to admit his feelings of despondency, sorrow or his word of choice - melancholy. For his poetry is noted for it, his private journals speak of it and he was often candid about his "constitutional depression of Spirits" in letters to his friends. Although the study of genetics was unknown in Byron's time, he always believed that he was 'doomed' by the fact that he was a in the words of his mother a "true Byrrone" Despite his charm, his father was considered a fickle profligate and adulterer and with an irate temper, extreme moods and bouts of depression; Byron's mother Catherine Gordon was more than a match for 'Mad Jack' as he was known throughout society. In the light of his parents' temperaments and that death by suicide is hinted at on ALL sides of Byron's unique family; it is perhaps NOT surprising that Byron was frequently one unhappy chap...

A ‘Dashing’ Tour of Newstead Abbey!

Since discovering the hidden treasure that is Newstead Abbey I remain enraptured by the Gothic ruin which as the ancestral home of Lord Byron influenced much of his wonderful poetry and I always eagerly anticipate any visit. Excited by the promise of an 'improved visitor experience' and on a cold and pleasant day in April I was taken to Newstead Abbey for a Mother's Day treat and with our place on the new guided tour booked for 2pm, we headed over to the 'Cafe in the Abbey' for lunch...

Like Seaham Hall? Vastly!

In the early days of March 1815, Byron was preparing to take his leave of Seaham Hall which had provided the backdrop to his fated marriage on a cold January morning some weeks earlier. On the outskirts of a small fishing village and perched on a grassy hill that that overlooks the wild and windy north east coast and far away from the glamour of the ‘Melbourne Court’ in London, the ‘pretty Spot’ of Seaham Hall was the family home of Ralph and Judith Milbanke. Although Annabella had been born at Elemore Hall in May 1792 as the completion of Seaham Hall was still underway, Annabella would spend her happy childhood years of bathing in the sea, clamouring across the rocks, dreaming up stories of dragons and shipwrecks while running across the sands and where she would live in peaceful anonymity until January 1815 and from then on her life would never be the same again...

The Baptism of a Rake?

'March 1st, George Gordon, son, of John Byron Esq. & Catherine...' The date was entered in error as the clerk had obviously forgotten that 1788 was a Leap Year...."Save February, with twenty-eight days clear, And twenty-nine each leap year." This would prove to be the first and one of many errors written about the life of Byron and not only during his lifetime! Another visitor to St Marylebone Parish Church was the artist William Hogarth who used the interior of the church for inspiration for his 1735 painting for the series titled 'A Rake's Progress'...

A Devil of a Birthday Boy!

Throughout his short life and in the years that have followed Byron was always considered to be a wonderful mass of contradictions and one with peculiar regularity can still arouse fury, passion, loyalty and debate; however, Byron would only think of himself as le diable boiteux - the lame devil. He was born on this day in 1788 with a malformation of his right leg and foot which he believed to be the worst catastrophe of his entire life and as Byron still remains a figure of intrigue, it is perhaps not altogether surprising that the nature of his deformed limb should also provoke controversy!

Persistence FINALLY Pays!

It was on a chilly November day that persistence finally paid off for the Polite Tourist as she made her way through the throngs of people milling about on Piccadilly and to the relative calm of St James’ Street before finally arriving to meet the man himself at Bennet Street in London's SW1 from whence the above missive was penned some 203 years ago...