Lord Byron.
Lord Byron.

Lord Byron was buried at Hucknall on July 16th, 1824.

His body was brought from Greece to England, embalmed in spirits, in the brig Florida. The personal appearance of the body had not changed much when it was transferred to the coffin in London.

The remains were conveyed by road to Nottingham, halting for the night at Welwyn, Higham Ferrers, and Oakham. The coffin and urn were viewed by thousands of people in the Blackmoors Head Inn, at the bottom of Pelham Street, in Nottingham.

At 11 o'clock on Friday, July 16th, the funeral procession moved up Mansfield Road, and passed through Papplewick and Linby on to the Wighay, and thence to the Church, which had been visited all the morning by great numbers of people, most of whom also looked in the vault.

The minute bell began to toll at half-past one, and some special visitors were permitted to enter the Church, where the splendid but mournful procession arrived at 18 minutes to 4 o'clock.

The Rev. Charles Nixon read the service, and at the committal part thereof the attendants placed the coffin and urn in the vault, the bearer of the coronet on a crimson cushion standing at the top of the vault steps. The Vicar stood within the Communion Rails to read the last portion of the service.

Byron's tomb.

fter the funeral many people stayed behind, some to take a last look at the coffin, and others displaying a loathness to leave the grave of one to whom they felt spell-bound. Nor was this wonderful, for (quoting Lord Beaconsfield) "In twelve years he poured out a series of complete inventions, which are not equalled for their number or consistency of purpose in the literature of any country, ancient or modern. Admirable for many qualities, for their picturesqueness, their wit, their passion, they are most distinguished by their power of impression and by the sublime energy of their imagination. And then after 12 years he died! He died, I say, in the fulness of his fame, having enjoyed in his lifetime a degree of celebrity which has never fallen to the lot of any other literary man, not only admired in his own country, but reverenced and adored in Europe."

Among the many who have visited the tomb, but whose names were unrecorded in either of the visitors' albums were the Lady Lovelace, David Livingstone, the missionary, and the Countess Guiccoli.

Livingstone visited the church and tomb when he was staying with Mr. Webb, at Newstead Abbey. The black boy, Chuma, who with Susi carried Livingstone's remains a thousand miles from Central Africa to the shore, also visited Byron's grave. It was to Chuma and Susi that Lord Houghton referred in his Livingstone memorial poem thus:

The swarthy followers stood aloof,
He lay beneath that grassy roof,

The visit of Countess Guiccoli from her home in Italy was described to the writer by John Brown, parish clerk, who said she asked him to lock her in the church, and when he returned he found her kneeling on the poet's tomb, her face bedimmed with tears. Very vividly has a writer thus described that visit of one whom Byron loved, and who reciprocated his passion:—"Many a pilgrim has paid a tribute at the shrine of Byron in the unpretending old church of Hucknall. Warrior and statesman, philosopher, and poet, have alike owned the genius which dazzled the world by its brilliancy, and whose magical poetry will be read till the end of time. But the tomb of the illustrious dead was destined to receive another visitor, one who, through good report and evil report, had clung to and loved him as only a woman can love—one who, when he was living, gloried in the greatness of his fame. The Countess Guiccoli left the sunny south—the land of love and poetry—for

The cold and cloudy clime
Where he was born, and where he would not die.

And on a dreary day, when the heavens were dark with clouds, and when nature looked as black and disconsolate as her own heart, she sought admittance at the old church. No eye save that of God beheld this erring but well-night broken-hearted woman at the tomb of her equally guilty lover—no human ear listened to her agonising sobs. In a moment these sobs were stilled, for memory painted her lover still in the zenith of his fame, far away in the land of song, and she, the idol of his heart. Fancy still wandered, and she beheld him the deliverer of Greece—of the isles he loved so well— and which were so frequently the burden of his immortal song. Bright, happy dreams! but ah! how brief! Death stood mocking. The swamps of Missolonghi had dimmed the fire of his eye, and his patriotic heart beat no more. In the damp vault beneath her feet lay her glory and her pride. The Guiccoli was standing on a charnel house. Alas! how truthfully she emulates those melancholy lines—

My thoughts their dungeon know too well,
Back to my heart the captives shrink,
And bleed within their silent cell."

A few lines from the pen of Mr. J. H. Brown, of Nottingham, deserve a place here:—

In sad but beautiful decay
Grey Hucknall kneels into the dust,
And, cherishing her sacred trust,
Does blend her clay with lordly clay.
The ancient Abbey's breast is broad,
And stout her massive walls of stone,
But let him lie, repose alone
Ungather'd with the great of God,
In dust, by his fierce fellow-man.
Someone,  some day,  loud-voiced will  speak
And say the broad breast was not broad,
The walls of stone were all too weak
To hold the proud dust, in their plan;
The hollow of God's great right hand
Receives it; let it rest with God.
No sign or cryptic stone or cross
Unto the passing world has said,
"He died, and we deplore his loss."
No sound of sandall'd pilgrim's tread,
Disturbs the pilgrim's peaceful rest,
Or frets the proud, impatient breast.
The bat flits through the broken pane,
The black swift swallow gathers moss,
And builds in peace above his head,
Then goes, then comes, and builds again.
And it is well; not otherwise
Would he, the grand, sad singer, will.
The serene peace of Paradise
He sought—'tis his—the storm is still.
Secure in his eternal fame,
And blended pity and respect,
He does not feel the cold neglect,
And England does not fear the shame (B).


Dr. Bowring, (C) a great admirer of Lord Byron, presented an album to the Parish Church in 1825, to be used as a register of the names of visitors to Byron's tomb. This book contained the names of many people, some of whom inscribed above their signatures, literary contributions—some original, others quotations of varying merit. The Parish Clerk, according to the Notts. Directory for 1849, presented the album to the late Mr. Frederick Ward "as a gift of friendship."

In 1834 the contents of the Album were printed and published by Hamilton, Adams, & Co., in a little book, entitled "Byroniana," edited by J. M. Langford.

Dr. Bowring's dedication was in the following terms:—"To the immortal and illustrious fame of Lord Byron, the first poet of the age in which he lived, these tributes, weak and unworthy of him, but in themselves sincere, are inscribed with the deepest reverence. July, 1825."

At that time no memorial of any kind had been placed in the church to Byron's memory, which prompted Sir John to write an opening poem, in which occurs the following verse:—

A still, resistless influence
Unseen but felt, binds up the sense;
And though the master hand is cold,
And though the lyre it once controlled
Rests mute in death, yet from the gloom
Which dwells about this holy tomb,
Silence breathes out more eloquent
Than epitaph or monument.

The register contained 815 names, 28 inscriptions in verse and 36 in prose. Count Pietro Gamba's name appears first; then "William Fletcher visited his ever-to-be-lamented master's tomb." "Joseph Carr, engraver, Hounds Gate, Nottingham, visited this place for the first time to witness the funeral of Lady Byron (mother of the much-lamented Lord Byron), August 9th, 1811, whose coffin-plate I engraved, and I now once more re-visit the spot to drop a tear as a tribute of unfeigned respect to the mortal remains of that noble British bard. 'Tho' lost to sight, to memory dear.'"

The Duke of Sussex, with Colonel Wildman, paid a visit to the tomb in 1825, and in the same year John Shaw, the London architect, engaged by Colonel Wildman to restore Newstead Abbey to its present appearance, inscribed his name.

In 1826, William Henry Kelly, of London, wrote:—

"If worth departed e'er deserved a tear
Sacred to merit, pay the tribute here!
Byron, adieu! this simple lay
Is writ by one, who in thy happier day
Spent many an hour of mirth and joy with thee,
Canst thou look down, and waste one thought on me."

In 1826, C. R. Pemberton (a wanderer) wrote:—

"He lies in obscurity, tho' here
This humble dwelling gives his dust a home;
For Byron has not, ne'er will have a tomb.
That name—the spirit's blaze will flash its clear

And animated light for ever there,
Where thought can roam, where mind can mock the doom."

Pemberton was an actor, and an associate of Garrick. He was a gifted man, though poor, and a book of his varied writings was published by the aid of subscriptions, from numerous admirers in the Sheffield district.

"Edward Wright, of West Smithfield, London, was led by the never-fading laurels of the much-to-be-lamented bard, to visit the tomb of the Grand Napoleon of the Realms of Rhyme."

1827, February 4th, Wm. Harvey wrote:—

"O Byron ! greatest, noblest of our land,
Chief of sweet Poesy's immortal band;
Perhaps at this moment lingering near,
Thy spirit doth regard my tributary tear."

Christopher Norton Wright, of Nottingham, in 1827, wrote this in the album:

"What a noble mind—but he's gone!!! and will his country do no more! Surely someone of influence will cause a more noble monument to be raised to his memory. Is there no room in Westminster? St. Paul's? O shame on the land of thee!!! O shame on thy children and thee!!! "

1828, April 7th, Richard Daniel, of Stoke-on-Trent, wrote:—

"The master mind, the prince of poets, the pride of many nations, is no more! Nothing that can be said by his greatest admirers can add one laurel to the poet's wreath."

William Cant, of London, in September, 1828, wrote a poem of sixteen verses, commencing:—

"From darkness rose a hollow sound
As we past slowly by,
How sad our looks, we gazed around
Alas ! do poets die? "

This William Cant was born at Annesley Woodhouse in 1777, and probably saw Byron when he visited Mary Chaworth at Annesley Hall.

W. J. Butler, in February, 1829, wrote a poem of five verses of more than average merit. The last verse runs:—

"If 'twere his dearest hope, his living line
With his land's language should for ever twine,
Great Bard ! the wish is won. In every clime.
In every age down to the wreck of time
Shall all posterity confess thy claim,
And with Britannia join her Byron's name."

Richard William Hamilton, of Leeds, on May 27th, 1829, was no Byron devotee, as his stern words in the album show. Here they are:—

"This sepulchre of perverted genius has a voice; it warns the pilgrim who visits it to employ his humble endowments to better and nobler ends of existence; and to anticipate the crisis when all, whether noble or obscure, gifted or unlettered, must give account to God. To those who may have the 'five' or the 'one' talent it speaks; while heaven lends a stronger emphasis and a more solemn utterance to the monition, 'Occupy till I come!'"

On September 3rd, 1829, Lord Byron's sister, the Honourable Augusta Mary Leigh, visited this church.

The commonplace is recorded thus on May 13th, 1830:—"W. Williams, Nottingham, visited this spot, after witnessing the review of the Notts. Yeomanry Cavalry on Bulwell Forest, by the Officers of the 15th Hussars."

August 30th, 1830, Richard Birkin, of New Basford, and four times Mayor of Nottingham, visited the tomb.

On March 8th, 1831, G. Pickering paid a 13th visit.

C. Kenworthy, of Manchester, was evidently a man of some literary attainments, as witness his contribution to the Church album on May 28th, 1831 :—

"But one great poet in an age is born,
That bard was he who did our age adorn;
In his rich verse grace, genius, splendour shone,
And energy of thought—excell'd by none!
Awe-thrilling grandeur there in brightness play'd,
Shedding a lustre o'er soft Beauty's shade.
As burning Drury, when her flames sublime
In awful grandeur rose, so tower'd his rhyme;
Like to her splendour was his lofty ray
That bare the palm from rival bards away.
He all the beauties, all the bard display'd
That Wharton wish'd for, and that Pope pourtray'd.
The sweet Apollo of our sea-girt isle,
His magic spell our sorrows could beguile;
On foreign shore fell breasts forgot their ire,
Charm'd by the music of his Orphean lyre.
Like the lorn nightingale in moonlit bower,
His mournful muse, in many a moody hour,
Woke her fine strains ,and sang love's fatal power.
Alike she charm'd, whether Grief's deep found chord
She struck, or Joy's high note she pour'd."

The Americans who first visited the tomb appear to have been David Wilson, of Baltimore (June, 1826), and J. Kolm, of New Orleans, in 1831. In these later days the Americans have shown themselves as great admirers of Byron as our own countrymen.

July 19th, 1831, Ann Watkinson, of Derby, wrote:—

"I have gaz'd on thy tomb, I have whisper'd a prayer,
And have given all thou wish'd, all thou ask'd for—a tear."

C. H. Timperley, of Manchester, on the same day wrote:—

"Thou Prospero of a thousand isles,
Thou wild enchanter of poetic strain,
Of wilder passions ,or the winning smiles,
We ne'er shall look upon thy like again."

In 1832, M. Van Vuren, minister plenipotentiary from the United States, accompanied by Washington Irving, author of the delightful Sketch Book, visited the tomb together; also Mr. Bunn, manager of Drury-lane Theatre, honoured by the acquaintance of the illustrious poet, visited Lord Byron's tomb with a party.

The poetic contribution of John W. Burgen, of London, on September 30th, 1832, is worthy of a place here:—

"Not in that palace* where the dead repose
In splendid holiness—where Time has spread
His sombre shadows, and a halo glows
Around the ashes of the mighty dead—
Life's weary pilgrim rests here his weary head!
This is his resting-place;  and save his own,
No light, no glory round his grave is shed;
But memory journeys to his shrine, alone.
Oh, say! art thou ambition? thy young breast,
Oh! does it pant for honours? dost thou chase
The phantom Fame, in fairy colours drest,
Expecting all the while to win the race?
Say, does the bloom of youth adorn thy face?
And dost thou deem it lasting? Dost thou crave
The hero's wreath—the poet's meed of praise ?
Learn, that of this—these—all, not one can save
From the chill hand of death—look at Childe Harold's grave."

In 1833 Wm. Andrew, a surgeon from Pye Bridge, wrote:—

"No marble marks thy couch of lonely sleep,
But living statues there are seen to weep."

E. Tomlin's contribution to the old album was as follows:—

"Byron lived,
And when he lived envy did defame;
Byron died,
And when he died envy would, if she could, do the same."

On August 12th, 1833, Philip James Bailey, of Basford, author of "Festus," visited Byron's grave. Six years afterwards this gifted man gave to the world his chief work. Bailey was accompanied to Hucknall by Samuel Kirke Swann.

In 1834, John Murray, jun., the son of Byron's publisher was at the tomb. The last recorded name in the old album before it was removed was that of Henry Jewitt, of Duffield, on June 16th, 1834.

(B) This verse was penned before the Parish. Church. was restored and beautified.
(C) Moore's "Life of Byron " contains a number of letters  from the poet to Dr. Bowring, the last written in December, 1823.
* Westminster Abbey.