Newstead Abbey closure fight is now worldwide

09-1542-1''Newstead Abbey West Front
09-1542-1''Newstead Abbey West Front

THE OUTCRY over contentious plans to close Newstead Abbey (pictured) to the public for much of the year has spread across the world.

Cash-strapped Nottingham City Council, which owns the historic building, wants to close the doors except for certain Sundays, Bank Holidays and for guided tours.

D-day is looming for the idea with a decision set to be made at a meeting later this month. If given the green light, the changes will come into force in April.

A high-profile campaign and petition have been launched in a bid to protect the current arrangements at the abbey, which is the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron.

Now the chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS), Ken Purslow, has disclosed that a flood of support has come from as far afield as Greece, the USA, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Canada.

Mr Purslow says the closure is “a retrograde step” and he fears it could lead to complete closure in the future.

He has written to Coun David Trimble (Lab), the city council’s lead member for leisure.

Mr Purslow says: “We would like assurances that the building is going to be kept secure. Also that irreplaceable treasures are conserved and that they are not plundered for short-term financial gain.”

The abbey was given to the Nottingham Corporation (forerunner of the city council) by benefactor and businessman Sir Julien Cahn in 1931. His grand-daughter, as reported in the Dispatch, is among those calling for the council to reconsider its plans.

Others include Marsha Manns, chairman of the Byron Society in the USA, who slams what she calls a “short-sighted” decision.

She writes: “Replete with historical associations and cultural significance, Newstead Abbey is one of the treasures of Nottingham. An asset that became the city’s property through an act of philanthropy.

“It warrants levels of financial support and staffing that will keep the beautiful building and grounds as accessible as possible to the many people who come from near and far to see Byron’s ancestral home.”

Joseph Yount, a member of the Byron Society of the USA, has also written to the city council.

He states: “I am one of many American visitors to your area and arranged my visits primarily around this important historic site (Newstead Abbey).

“I know of many others who have done the same and numerous people who eagerly await the opportunity to visit Newstead Abbey with its unique internal decoration.”