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An Augustinian Priory, established circa 1170 by Henry II, extended and rebuilt in the late 13th century with the Prior's Lodgings, Great Hall and Dorter added in the 15th century. The monastery was dissolved in 1539 and in the following year Henry VIII granted Newstead to Sir John Byron, an ancestor of the poet George Gordon Byron, who converted the priory into a country house for his family. The house was restored by George Gordon Byron circa 1800. It was then extended and restored by John Shaw for Colonel Wildman in 1819 with a further alteration taking place circa 1862 for William Frederick Webb, African explorer and friend of Dr David Livingstone. Following Mr Webb's death in 1899, the estate passed to each of his surviving children and finally to his grandson Charles Ian Fraser. Mr Fraser sold Newstead to the Nottinghamshire philanthropist Sir Julien Cahn, who presented it to Nottingham Corporation in 1931.

The structure is constructed from coursed and squared rubble and ashlar with plain tile and slate roofs. Of the church, all that remains is the very beautiful west end, circa 1270, decorated with exceptionally fine carved panels, tracery and ornament. The front is symmetrical, although there was in fact no south aisle. Many of the claustral buildings survive intact in the adjoining mansion which is used as a museum.

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