Burgage Manor, Southwell,  c 1900s

Image ID: 09448

Burgage Manor, Southwell, c 1900s

Courtesy of Nottinghamshire Archives


The house was rented by Lord Byron's mother between dates (which range in various accounts) somewhere between 1803 and 1809. The poet spent many of his holidays in Southwell at Burgage House whilst on school vacation from Harrow School and Cambridge University. (Burgage Manor is not open to the public, but visitors can see other sites associated with the poet, such as the historic Saracen's Head Hotel.) Whilst in Southwell, on the site of the former Southwell Assembly Rooms, the young Lord Byron took part in plays and amateur theatricals. On a Southwell play-bill, dated August 8, 1804, a play was announced as written by 'Mrs. and Lord Byron.' An insight into the varied nature of his occupations in the town may be gleaned from one of Byron's own letters, in which he said: 'I have been transporting a servant who cheated me, performing in private theatricals, publishing a volume of poems, making love, and taking physic.' He followed his earlier work by a volume of poems which was a thin quarto of sixty-six pages, with the simple title of 'Fugitive Pieces,' published by the press of Messrs. S. and J. Ridge, of Newark, in November, 1806. Friends in the town had encouraged him to have his poems printed. The first two volumes were circulated privately but the third volume 'Hours of Idleness' which he wrote when 19 was published by Ridges of Newark and helped to make him famous. Lord Byron, sixth Baron Byron, was born in 1788 in lodgings in London. His mother, Catherine, alone during the last months of her pregnancy because her husband was in France, had been writing pathetic letters to lawyers asking for financial assistance, so she could buy food, a place to live and medical care. It is not known why she was in London. Her father-in-law, John Byron, had been an admiral and her mother-in-law, Sophia Trevanion Byron, was one of Dr. Johnson's literary ladies. The baby, named George Gordon Byron after his mother's father, was born with a caul over his head and a misshapen foot. Mrs. Byron soon moved back to her own family in Scotland where she raised her son in 'reduced circumstances'. Her charming, handsome but disreputable husband, who had finished squandering her considerable fortune, had abandoned them and died in misery and poverty in France. When he was ten, in 1798, Byron inherited an English Barony from an elderly Great Uncle and became the Lord of a mismanaged and decrepit manor entangled in rumour, superstition and litigation. The house, Newstead Abbey, built in the ruins of an Augustinian priory three hundred years before, was practically uninhabitable, but arcane and evocative to a precocious, intelligent boy fascinated by history. His practical and efficient mother began to restore the house to liveability and the estate to profitability. During this time Byron, and a nursemaid lived in a small house in Nottingham which still stands at the top of St. James Street, close to the hospital where Byron was being treated to correct a problem with his foot. They were also close to several Byron family aunts and cousins. Once Newstead was comfortable, Mrs. Byron leased it to Lord Grey de Ruthyn, a 'sporting' young man of twenty two who was 'mad' for hunting, and it is at this time she took the charming Burgage Manor, in Southwell. She returned to Newstead whist Byron was still at Cambridge. He was

Date: 1900

Organisation Reference: NCCE003424


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