This was placed in the church in February, 1880, by the Rev. J. E. Phillips, and now (1908) contains 2,728 signatures, an average of nearly 100 per annum, though many visitors do not sign their names. The opening signatures are those of the Duke and Duchess of St. Albans, and Edward, Bishop of Nottingham.

The following are the names of and the years in which notable people have visited the church:—

1880.—Alderman Robert Mellors, Baroness Von Hube, Greasley; Mrs. Webb, Newstead Abbey; The Earl of Duncombe, London; From Newstead Abbey, Miss Geraldine Webb, Richard Claude Belt (the sculptor).

1881.—July 12th, Newstead Abbey party—Mrs. Webb, Dr. Aug. Voelcker, Countess Cathcart, Miss Webb; September 22nd, Mabel C. Webb, Newstead Abbey, Annette Lamb; September 29th, Papplewick Hall party—Major-General Jacob, Bath, Misses Evelyn and Constance Walter, Mrs. J. H. Walter, Mrs. J. Whitaker, Rain worth Lodge.

1882.—Thos. Aspden, author of " Historical Sketches of the House of Stanley," Preston; Harriet Kendall, of London, wrote on August 8th:—

"There's not a joy the world can give Like that it takes away."

General C. P. de Ainslie, Canon Farrar, of Westminster Abbey (Dean Stanley visited the church about this period, but did not leave his autograph.)

1883.—July 23rd, The Duke of Portland; July 26th, Philip Ben Greet; September 11th, Newstead Abbey party—Roderick Webb, Lady G. Baillie Hamilton, Lady C. Baillie Hamilton.

1884.—June 16th, Philip James Bailey, author of "Festus"; August 4th, F. C. Smith, High Sheriff of Notts., and Miss H. Maud Smith; August 8th, William Winter, of New York, author of "Gray Days and Gold," and other works; October 17th, C. L. Rothera (Nottingham City Coroner) with Will Carleton, of New York.

1885.—August   14th,   Newstead  Abbey party—Mrs.   Webb, Lady Wynford, Caroline Hole, of Caunton.

1891.—The Marquis de St. Aulaire.

1894.—Newstead Abbey party—Miss Ethel Webb, Miss E. A. Jackson (Broomhill), Right Hon. Sir George F. Bowen, G.M.C.G., Major and Mrs. W. C. Drummond, Petronelly van Ginteel, Amsterdam.

1895.—Judge and Mrs. Smyley; Sir Charles and Miss Sylvia Ruth Seely.

1897.—Sir Wm. Fraser, Bart., Colonel Eyre, C.B.; September 23rd, Mrs. F. A. Smith and Papplewick Hall party.

1900.—T. de Witt Talmage and wife and daughters, Washington, U.S.A.

1905.—Mr. John Burns, M.P., Sir Frederick Bridge, Westminster Abbey organist.

Another contribution of note in the book is thus recorded:—

"1903.—Sir Tollemache Sinclair, Bart., Thurso Castle, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, son of Sir George Sinclair, Bart., M.P., who was Lord Byron's schoolfellow, friend, and correspondent, and whom the poet called " The Harrow Prodigy," as may be seen in one of his letters in Moore's life of Byron. Sir T. S. has had the very great honour and infinite satisfaction of placing a medallion of Byron by Mr. Adams, Acton (a celebrated London sculptor); the likeness is copied from the well-known picture by Harlowe, taken from life in this vestry."

The most beautiful and sympathetic tribute to the memory of Byron is that which his friend Rogers, the author of "The Pleasures of Memory," addressed to him, and which is as follows:—

"He is now at rest; And praise and blame fall on his ear alike, Now dull in death. Yes, Byron, thou art gone— Gone like a star that through the firmament Shot and was lost, in its eccentric course, Dazzling, perplexing. Yet thy heart, methinks Was generous, noble—noble in its scorn Of all things low or little; nothing there Sordid or servile. If imagined wrongs Pursued thee, urging thee sometimes to do Things long regretted, oft, as many know, None more than I, thy gratitude would build On slight foundations; and if in thy life Not happy, in thy death thou surely wert.

Thy wish accomplished; dying in the land Where thy young mind had caught ethereal fire. Dying in Greece, and in a cause so glorious! They in thy train—ah! little did they think, As round we went, that they so soon should sit Mourning beside thee, whilst a Nation mourned, Changing her festal for her funeral song; That they so soon should hear the minute gun (As morning gleamed on what remained of thee), Roll o'er the sea, the mountains numbering Thy years of joy and sorrow.

Thou art gone! And he who would assail thee in thy grave, Oh! let him pause! For who among us all, Tried as thou wert, even from thine earliest years, When wandering, yet unspoilt, a Highland boy. Tried as thou wert, and with thy soul of flame, Pleasure, while yet the down was on thy cheek, Uplifting, pressing, and to lips like thine, Her charmed cup—ah! who among us all Could say he had not erred as much, and more? "


Byron's daughter Ada married the Earl of Lovelace. She died of cancer, in London, and was buried at Hucknall, December 3rd, 1852, aged 37—nearly the same age as her father. Byron loved his child, as the following lines testify: —

Is thy face like thy mother's, my dear child?
Ada, sole daughter of my house and heart;
When last I saw thy soft blue eyes, they smiled,
And then we parted, not as now we part,
But with a hope-------

Writing to Mr. Murray (his publisher) from Venice, in February, 1818, he said:—"I have a great regard for little Ada, and I look forward to her as the pillar of my old age, should I ever reach that desolate period, which I hope not."

From Pisa, in 1821, he wrote:—"I have to acknowledge the receipt of a lock of Ada's hair, which is soft and pretty, and nearly as dark as mine was at twelve."

Lady Lovelace was highly gifted, and no doubt had a large share of her father's temperament and delight in intellectual as well as kindly pursuits.

Her coffin was covered with rich puce silk velvet, the handles and other ornaments being of frosted silver.

At the funeral the church was half filled three hours before the service began. The Rev. Curtis Jackson officiated, and met the funeral party at the porch. The mourners included the Earl of Lovelace and Viscount Oackham, Lord Byron, Colonel Wild-man, the Hon. Locke King, M.P., and others. The coffin was lowered into the vault just below the communion rail, and placed beside her father's remains. The mourners left the church by the chancel door, now (1908) built up.

About 800 people went into the vault that day. A Nottingham visitor described the tomb as higher than most vaults, and he saw either four or five layers of coffins therein. Many of the visitors tore strips of the faded velvet which enveloped the poet's coffin.


Intimately associated with the story of Newstead and the poet Lord, and casually with Hucknall itself, is the White Lady incident.

This strange personage took up her abode in the old Portland Farmhouse, at the top of Station Street, and was well remembered by the late Mr. Thomas Widdowson, who was a little boy when the White Lady came to seek shelter in his father's home, after staying a short time at the Weir Farm, Newstead.

Who was the little White Lady? The Hon. William Byron, of Bulwell Wood Hall, had a daughter, who clandestinely married one of her father's dog-keepers named Hyatt. This mesalliance, as might be expected, exasperated her father, and the couple, after a few years, left the neighbourhood and were lost sight of. They had offspring, two sons and one daughter, Sophia. The sons migrated to America soon after the death of their father and mother, leaving Sophia behind in England. One of her brothers bestowed upon her an annuity, but when he died in embarrassed circumstances in the West Indies, the annuity was stopped. She was now totally dependent on the charity of a distant relative, who allowed her £13 a year. These particulars she communicated to Mrs. Wildman in a letter the evening before she left Newstead, but the story needs confirmation, because the Hon. William Byron lived in the 17th century, 150 years before Sophia came to Mr. Widdowson's farm-house.

When Washington Irving visited Newstead Abbey in Colonel Wildman's time, gathering material for his "Sketch Book," he and the Colonel were walking in the woods one day when they saw a fairy-like form, clad in white, pass before them and disappear again in the forest glades. This was the White Lady.

The following interesting memoranda respecting this mysterious personage was given to the writer by Mr. Thomas Heath, of Hopping Hill Farm, Newstead. It was written by his mother, the late Mrs. Rebekah Heath, of Newstead, who was born in 1797:—

"The White Lady of Newstead is the title given to a very singular being, who came to Newstead about the second year of Colonel Wildman's possessing it. She came to the Hutt by coach before the time of railways. A person named Mealey, who had been gardener to Lord Byron, kept the Hutt at that time. She wanted to get lodgings in the vicinity of Newstead Abbey. Mrs. Mealey could not accommodate her, and not knowing how to get rid of her great importunity brought her to my mother, and my mother sent one of us to Mrs. Hardstaff, of the Weir Mill Farm, who prepared two rooms for her, and she stayed there several months till, as we thought, she wanted a supply of cash, for she was very economical, paying no more than 10s. or 12s. per week for board, lodging, washing, etc., and if she did not eat much she gave a great deal of trouble. This was what we knew of her.

"Her name was Sophia Hyatt. She appeared to have been educated in her youth, but said that severe illness at the age of 13 in a measure paralysed her. She was of very small stature—that of a child—with a skin so transparent you might see the veins; countenance small, but not unpleasing; quite deaf, and only could speak in a whisper. If she attempted to speak loud she almost shrieked, and her laugh was strange, and more frequent was the melancholy shake of the head, and the up-turning of the dimmed blue eye; the start she gave when a person came suddenly near her unnoticed in consequence of her deafness, the frail, light figure seemed to spin round light as a cork, you would fancy her falling, but no, she would recover herself and pass slowly on.

"Her dress was black or white, and when she walked to Newstead Abbey she would dress in white, so she got the cognomen of the 'White Lady,' at other times generally black silk or bombazine, and large bonnet, black or white, made by herself, and covering her small face, till people had to peep in a way to see it. The only colour I ever saw her wear was blue ribbon tied round the wrists and neck, but very rarely.

"The Wildman family at that time came sometimes for a few days to Newstead, and she was very desirous to have their permission to walk near the Abbey, to which place she was drawn by reading Lord Byron's poems till she seemed to idolise the author. When Major Wildman, his mother, and sister came to Newstead, she sought and obtained an audience, but it was not satisfactory to her in some way; they did not forbid her to come near, but did not care to patronise so strange and singular a being.

"Some thought her a relation of the Byron family; she said she was not. Others thought she might be a cast-off mistress of the poet; that, I believe, was wrong. She declared she had never seen Lord Byron, and I have no reason to doubt her veracity. She had his poems (the only book she seemed to care for), she read them, and wrote poetry on sheets of paper, and small bits I have seen, for I was young then and fond of poetry. She brought me the books to read, but with so many injunctions to be careful and let nobody touch them, I was debarred of half the pleasure I might have had in reading them. It was before all the reading world knew of his attachment to Miss Chaworth, and Miss Hyatt's object in lending them was to know if there was a lady in this locality answering the description in the 'Dream.' I told her Mrs. Chaworth Musters, and then she soon got a person to go with her to the top of the 'Diadem' Hill, where she paddled about a long time in hopes she might set her foot on the spot where Lord Byron had once set his.

"Poor Sophia Hyatt! That hill is altered now. A round clump of tall, dark firs alone stood upon it so that it could be seen many miles. The tops of those dark trees stood out against the sky. I have heard they could be seen from the sea. After the publication of the life of Lord Byron the hill was visited more than pleased Mr. Musters, and he had the trees cut down.

"In a few months she took her leave of us, saying she would see those loved scenes no more; but in the course of a year or two she wrote to me a long letter, very anxious to know if Colonel Wildman would allow her to come again to take one farewell, as she was in expectation of going to America. Excusing herself for not writing sooner, she goes on thus:—'Compelled to relinquish every hope of returning to a place where blissful seclusion from a world I detest would alone have endeared it to me, where I had foolishly flattered myself I should have been permitted to end my days in peace, I dared not trust myself to write to you, as it would only serve to keep alive the remembrance of scenes which my peace required I should endeavour to forget.' In another part she says: "You will add considerably to the obligations you and your family have conferred upon me by informing me in what manner Major Wildman received the letter I left with the good old gentleman Mr. Murray—whether he deigned to read it at all, or to express any opinion upon it. I extremely regretted that the ladies did not think it worth their while to make inquiry at the place to which I had referred them, as I am convinced the result would have been their complete satisfaction, and it would have afforded me the sincerest pleasure to know myself acquitted by them of the suspicions entertained of me. My friend Miss Coate left Windsor-place a few weeks after my return to London. She removed to No. 26 Chapman-street, Back-road, Islington, but has changed her name. She was married to a Mr. Larkins on the 1st of January. After a great deal more she expresses an anxious desire to pay another visit to Newstead—a farewell visit—if Major Wildman will allow her to do so, and says:—'If he will indulge me in my ardent wish, my constant prayers—yes, his name shall be joined in my morning orisons and in the vespers of eve. O, when I am far, far away, not a breeze shall blow across the vast Atlantic to my native land but shall waft a blessing to him.' Dated August 26th, 1820.

Of course we knew nothing of the letter she had left, and believing that Major Wildman did not mind at all whether she came or not, we sent her word to that effect, and in a while she came to her old lodgings. But the upper servants at the Abbey, in the absence of the master, protested loudly against her being encouraged to come at all, and then Mr. Hardstaff would only keep her till she could get apartments elsewhere, which she succeeded in doing, and we did not see so much of her afterwards.

But Major Wildman brought his lady to reside at Newstead, and they bowed and smiled upon her (the White Lady) when they met her, and she stayed as long as she liked, which she might have done at first if she had never sought their patronage.

After a lapse of forty years my memory does not retain how long she stayed, but I feel sure she was not here when Lord Byron died. She came after he was buried, and took respectable lodgings at Hucknall Torkard, and stayed a considerable time, but at length took her leave of them, having paid a farewell visit to Newstead Abbey and Hucknall Church, and sent Mrs. Wildman some verses she had composed. She went by the carrier to Nottingham, and got booked to go by coach to London, but standing in the doorway of tbe Maypole Inn on 21st September, 1825, as Potter, the Loughborough carrier was driving out of the narrow yard, the fore horse knocked her down and the cart wheel went over her back and she was killed on the spot. An inquest was held—'Accidental death.' Colonel Wildman was informed of it, and he gave directions to have the body brought back to Hucknall and buried in the churchyard, as near Lord Byron as might be, and paid the expenses of the funeral (my mother was one of the mourners), for it was found she had not paid her fare nor had enough money to pay it with. Thus ended the life of this mysterious being. It is probable her friends, if she had any, did not know where she was—for I am not aware that she either wrote or received a letter whilst here, and never heard of any inquiry for her since."

One of her poems relating to Byron contains the following verse:—

"Not that fond love which passion breathes,
And youthful hearts inflame,
The soul a nobler homage gives
And bows to thy great name."

The burial register gives her age as 66 years.

About the year 1870 another Byron devotee named Morley, widow of an American solicitor, came to live in Hucknall in apartments at the late William Calladine's cottage which adjoined the Churchyard wall. She was about 60 years old when she came, well-read, and showed a passionate regard for all matters relating to Byron. She was buried in the Churchyard near the chancel.