Newstead Abbey gets opening-hours boost

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BOSSES at Newstead Abbey (pictured) have decided to re-open the historic attraction throughout the autumn and winter in a bid to encourage more visitors.

Earlier this year, owner Nottingham City Council controversially chose to close the house for most of the year, except for certain Sunday afternoons and Bank Holidays and for guided tours.

The move was part of cost-cutting measures designed to offset the impact of reduced budgets for the council.

But now it has been decided to open the doors of the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron at weekends thorughout the ‘off-season’.

A whole programme of attractions has been planned to entice visitors — including many locals who have never been to the Dispatch’s top tourist attraction, which is on their doorsteps.

Events include Hallowe’en fun this weekend, ‘Ghost And Ghoul’ evenings and Christmas events.

Penny Beniston, house steward, said the decision to stay open was made because the staff were “ready, willing and able” after putting in lots of hard work over the summer.

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

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

Money raised through the extended opening will provide extra cash for the abbey which, as revealed in the Dispatch earlier this month, is on a list of the 67 most endangered heritage sites in the entire world.

The abbey’s West Front, which dates back to the 13th century, boasts a wealth of unique architecture. The abbey is also surrounded by eyecatching gardens.

The West Front has been pinpointed as in desperate need of attention in an investigation by the World Monuments Fund. Staff are are hoping that increased footfall will boost the funding available for its maintenance.

Under the new timetable, the abbey will be open every day except for Christmas Day and Friday November 25.