History and Information Map and Tour of the Gardens What to see and do
History and Information
The gardens and parkland at Newstead Abbey cover more than 300 acres.
Newstead Abbey's landscape owes much of its beauty to the River Leen, which feeds the lakes, ponds and cascades that ornament Newstead's gardens. Some of these water features are believed to have medieval origins as monastic stew ponds, in which fish were bred for food. One is the Eagle Pond, a large rectangular 'mirror' pond. This takes its name from the priory's eagle-shaped lectern (now at nearby Southwell Minster) said to have been hidden in or near the pond at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Eagle Pond lies at the centre of the Great Garden, a rare survival in plan of the late 17th- century walled and terraced formal garden to the east of the house.
Near the Eagle Pond is the poet Byron's famous monument to his favourite dog, Boatswain, who died of rabies in 1808. This monument stands on the spot which Byron believed to have been occupied by the High Altar of the priory church
The other gardens we see today date mainly from the 19th century. The Fern Garden, Rockery, Sub-Topical Garden, Spanish Garden and Japanese Garden were all created by Mrs William Frederick Webb or by her daughters Geraldine and Ethel, between 1861 and 1900. The Fern Garden was constructed for Mrs Webb between 1864 and 1865 from Derbyshire tufa and carved stones original to the priory church. The Rockery, a miniature wilderness, was inspired by Geraldine's reading of Benjamin Disreali's novel Venetia, a story based upon Newstead in the time of Byron's youth. The Spanish Garden, on the site of the monastic burial ground, is a box-hedged parterre named for the origin of the well-head at its centre. The spectacular herbaceous border in the Great Garden was created by the Webbs in about 1870. Recently restored, the 720-foot long border now provides a brilliant display throughout the summer months. The Japanese Garden, with its authentic stone ornaments, was designed for Ethel Webb in about 1900 and is recognised as one of the finest examples of this type of garden in Britain.
The Rose Garden was first set out in 1965 on the site of a Victorian kitchen garden. This peaceful walled garden has recently been restored.