Newstead Abbey changes open hours in bid to attract more tourists

DESPITE Newstead Abbey being on the doorstep, many residents in Mansfield and Ashfield have never actually visited the historic house.

But staff at the former home of controversial poet Lord Byron are hoping that will change, as instead of closing down during the autumn and winter, the abbey is now opening its doors at weekends throughout the off-season.

A whole programme of exciting events have been planned to entice visitors, including an Upstairs/Downstairs tour this weekend, Hallowe’en fun, Ghost and Ghoul evenings and Christmas events.

Penny Beniston, house steward, said that they decided to stay open because the staff were ‘ready, willing and able’ having put in lots of hard work over the summer.

“Come down and let us surprise you - let us show you round,” she said. “It’s a magnificent site.

“We have worked hard this year to get the gardens right and the building, even if you have no interest in Byron, is so interesting - there’s a lot more to it than just Byron.”

The abbey’s gardens are open everyday except Christmas and the last Friday of November, as is the cafe.

Newstead has recently been named as one of 67 endangered heritage sites around the world by the World Monuments Fund and staff are hoping that increased footfall will boost the funding available for its maintenance. More details on the house tours are available on Mansfield 455900 or www.mynottingham.gov.uk/newsteadabbey.