Byron pilgrims include Irish fans

BYRON BUFFS -- Ken  Purslow (right) lays wreaths with Allan Gregory, chairman of the Irish Byron Society
BYRON BUFFS -- Ken Purslow (right) lays wreaths with Allan Gregory, chairman of the Irish Byron Society

SEVENTEEN members of the Irish Byron Society were among the congregation at the annual service in memory of the poet at Hucknall Parish Church last weekend.

The Irish contingent were to have attended last year’s service but their flight to the UK had to be cancelled because of volcanic ash from Iceland.

In an address, the rector, the Rev Kathryn Herrod, referred to the famous comment attributed to Lady Caroline Lamb that Byron was “mad, bad and dangerous to know”.

“But Byron had a great complexity of character,” she stressed. “He was known to be exceptionally kind and one of the most generous spirits of his age.

“Through his death in Greece 187 years ago, he ultimately gave of himself in a sacrificial way.”

During the service, wreaths were laid at Byron’s tomb by the Mayor of Gedling, Coun Patricia Blandamer (Con), the chairman of Southwell Town Council, Coun Roger Dobson, David Herbert on behalf of the Lytton family (who are descendants of the poet), Gwenda Watkins for the Byron family, Newstead Abbey Byron Society (NABS) chairman Ken Purslow for the International Byron Society, Irish Byron Society chairman Allan Gregory, Ann Bamford for NABS, Gillian Berry for the Greek nation, Geraldine Semple in memory of former Irish Byron Society president the late Maureen Charlton, and also Bunty Cardwell in memory of the late Maureen Crisp, who was secretary of NABS and executive director of the Irish Byron Society.

Mr Herbert read a poetic tribute to Byron by John Bowring, who was secretary of the London Greek Committee at the time of Byron’s death in 1824 and visited the church a year after he was buried there.

The service ended with a recital of Byron’s poem, ‘My 36th Year’, by Mr Purslow to the music of ‘Nimrod’ from Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’, played on the organ by Peter Hart. A collection was taken for the church restoration fund.

During the Byron pilgrimage weekend, the group from Ireland joined with NABS members in a visit to Nottingham Theatre Royal for a meal and a concert by the Ukelele Orchestra.

At the annual meeting of NABS at the John Godber Centre on Ogle Street, Hucknall, Mr Gregory gave a lecture on ‘Byron And Thomas Moore’. Moore (1779-1852) was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter and entertainer. He was jointly responsible for burning Byron’s memoirs after his death.

Visits were also arranged for the Irish party to Burgage Manor in Southwell and Newstead Abbey.