ADMISSION prices have been slashed in a bid to increase visitor-numbers at the Dispatch district’s premier tourist attraction, Newstead Abbey.
Last year, owner Nottingham City Council took the controversial decision to close the abbey (pictured) to impromptu visitors and open its doors only to organised tours on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
The move sparked a backlash from lovers of the abbey, which was the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron.
The outcry was led by the Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS), which is also the driving force behind the annual International Byron Festival staged in Hucknall.
Despite protests that attracted world-wide backing, the policy remains.
But the council is aiming to encourage new visitors, including families, by offering a special rate of £6 per car for entry into the spectacular grounds and gardens.
The new charges, which came into force this week, represent a big saving for families on the previous admission-prices, which were £4 per adult and £3 for under-16s. It means a family of two adults and two children will pocket a difference of £8.
Entry into the house, via one of the tours, is available at an extra charge of £5 per person.
It is hoped the initiative will encourage more visitors to enjoy the grounds, which span 300 acres and feature manicured lawns, lakes and wonderful views of the house, parts of which date back to the 13th century.
A season-ticket is also on offer, providing unlimited access to the grounds and gardens all year round for £35 per car.
Coun Dave Trimble (Lab), Nottingham City Council’s lead member for leisure, culture and tourism, said: “Entry to Newstead Abbey of just £6 per car offers really fantastic value for Nottinghamshire residents and for visitors to the area alike.
“People can enjoy a great day out in the beautiful gardens and grounds, and we hope lots take advantage of this great offer.”
A spokeswoman for the city council denied that the new charges had been introduced because visitor-numbers had fallen.
“This is to make the abbey grounds accessible to as many people as possible,” she said.
“We want everyone to make the most of this wonderful site.”