The bone of contention is a review in the Daily Mail of a new book by Ann Treneman, entitled ‘Finding The Plot: 100 Graves To Visit Before You Die’.
The review by John Preston reads: “When the poet Lord Byron died in 1824, there was mass hysteria at his graveside in Hucknall churchyard in Nottinghamshire.
“Now he lies surrounded by empty beer cans in the shadow of the Byron Bingo Hall.”
The article has been slated by the chairman of Newstead Abbey Byron Society, Ken Purslow, and by Ken and Sheila Robinson, of Hucknall Tourism and Regeneration Group, for the negative impression it has created.
Mr Purslow claims that neither the author nor the reviewer appear to have done what is suggested - visit the poet’s grave.
In a letter to the Mail, Mr Purslow writes: “Had they done so, they would have found quite a different picture to the one they chose to paint. The Byron family tomb is to be found inside Hucknall’s beautiful church of St Mary Magdalene.
“The tomb was constructed in the 17th century and the first family member interred there in 1683 was Cicile, wife of Sir John Byron. Since then, 26 members of the Byron family, including the poet himself, have been buried there. The last one was Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, in 1852.
“Recent improvements inside the church have now quite clearly defined the tomb by the polished oak surround and top. This allows visitors to see the actual top of the tomb itself.”
Mr Purslow also points out that there is a small garden outside the church with a memorial stone dedicated to Byron.
He writes: “As Ashfield District Council regularly cut the churchyard grass and a dedicated team of volunteers keep the garden tended, it is highly unlikely you will find a proliferation of empty beer cans.”
Mr Purslow points out that Byron’s famous maiden speech in the House of Lords was in defence of framework knitters during the Luddite riots.
He says: “History tells us there was no mass hysteria at the funeral - just silent respect for the champion of the knitters’ liberty.”
The Mail has so far not published Mr Purslow’s letter and the Dispatch has been unable to obtain a comment from the paper.