Monday, 25 March 2013

My First Visit to Seaham Hall!

It shouldn't have taken me this long, but I was always too scared.

The last time I tried, I reached the pillar at the end of the car park. I turned. I left.

But today, I finally did it. I stepped inside Seaham Hall.

I'm not sure why I was so worried. Perhaps I feared it would be too overwhelming. I'd like to say that I was wrong to panic, but let's be honest...

The place is amazing. It really is overwhelming! A friend and I were only planning to go there for a drink in the newly refurbished Byron's Bar (the name alone sends delightful shivers through me, so you can imagine my excitement when I saw the Albanian costume portrait hanging up when we entered the room...), but after I enquired about the room in which Byron and Annabella tied the knot (or rather the room in which Byron's life slowly began to seep away from him), we were taken on a mini tour around the building.

Well, that was certainly an unexpected joy; I cannot thank the wonderful member of staff who took us around enough. Seaham Hall is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I love its connection with Byron, but it's unfortunate that it's not connected with happy memories. Thankfully, the atmosphere hasn't been tainted by the havoc that was caused just short of two centuries ago with the troubled union of Byron and Milbanke.

If you ever get the chance to visit Seaham Hall, I strongly recommend that you do. It's sensational in every aspect, and this first visit is certainly not my last!

Amy x

Monday, 18 March 2013

My visit to Newstead Abbey, Byron's grave, Annesley Hall, & Southwell haunts

It's when dreams are turned into reality that one must consider the option that they may be the luckiest person alive.

As a devout worshipper of Lord Byron (a Byromaniac, if you will allow me to use such a term; I know Milbanke would have loathed me), it is with my heart that I retrace every single one of his glorious steps. With my roots in Aberdeen, the effort it took to explore his haunts there proved to be dramatically smaller than the overwhelming rush that came over me when I stood on Brig o' Balgownie, and beneath the statue at the Grammar School, and skipped around the ruins of Gight Castle. However, reaching both his home and pace of rest was going to be a much greater challenge.

It's thanks to the wonderful Tee Bylo - whose Byron blog I insist you check out! - that I was able to heighten the madness of my Byron adventures much sooner than I ever imagined. I owe her my life, for I have just completed the most spectacular two-day Byron pilgrimage...

Church of St Mary Magdalene, Hucknall

It's quite a disturbing thought, in all manners of delight, to think that I've stood a mere few metres away from the skeleton of  my love. Buried in the family vault in the church alongside Byron is his daughter Ada Lovelace, and mother Catherine Gordon. St Mary Magdalene is a beautiful church, and a heavenly place for Byron to rest. He is certainly very well looked after there.

Newstead Abbey

I don't think my heart has ever raced so much as it did when we were approaching Newstead. Once the home of the 6th Lord, both the exterior and interior are a reflection on the extravagance of Byron's own life. The grounds are breathtaking, with vast gardens and controlling nature.

Byron's bed. Byron's. Bed. Can you just, best not. It's still not sunk in that I've stood in the bedroom of my love. Nor has it hit me that I've stared into his plunge bath and gazed up at his window. The tour guides were absolutely fantastic, and really helped bring to life the history of Newstead. If I could live there, I truly would!

Annesley Hall

Unfortunately, Annesley Hall, once home to Byron's young love Mary Chaworth, is not in any condition to be entered. However, we did visit its surrounding area. I think it's fair to say that the building would have once shone with such gorgeous beauty; it oozes charisma, even when left abandoned to rot away. I do hope that somebody takes care of it soon. It's such a shame to see it going to waste. If I had all the money in the world, I'd buy it and turn it into a Byron museum. Perhaps one day...


 Byron spent five years of his life living in Southwell, in Burgage Manor. The window above the plaque is said to have been his bedroom window, which looked onto the home of the Pigots across the road. As is to be expected with all things Byron, it's a very attractive building in a quaint location.

We stayed at The Saracen's Head, to which Byron was no stranger. It's certainly somewhere I'd look into staying at again; there's so much history to the building, not alone involving Byron. However, Byron will, naturally, be the main pull factor, and I can think of no finer location for such a writer to frequent.

I took hundreds of photos over the weekend, and since it'd be impractical for me to upload them all here, I've organised them in a short slideshow video. Enjoy!

Amy x

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Plight of Pankhurst

Eva Gore-Booth
Eva Gore-Booth, by Constance Markievicz

There are so many misconceptions, but who do we blame?

Feminists are often given a bad name. This is not necessarily because people don't agree with their views, however, but rather that they don't  know the truth. So many misconceptions are buried within the 'feminist' label: they all hate men; they're all lesbians; feminists don't want children; they don't wear make-up.

Yes, I am sure there are feminists who can adhere to the above allegations. But some of us only conform to one or two of the stereotypes, and others none at all. It is all about choice.

Can such misunderstandings really be helped though when feminists are often displayed in negative light?

Take the first wave of feminism, for example, with the Suffrage Movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Emmeline Pankhurst was notorious in her radical appproaches to campaigning. It is through the Suffragettes that the women's movement in the UK is most remembered for its almost-rampage approach. But not everybody who fought for equality relied on violence to take action.

Eva Gore-Booth was a wonderful activist and fantastic suffragist. But because she chose to operate a pen over her first, her name has gone unremembered. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that what Pankhurst did was wrong. On the contrary, I'm very much in support of her ways. It is, instead, both the media and education at which I'm angry for only choosing to focus on the (arguably) negative aspects of feminism. They say violence never solves anything; I beg to differ, and so would Pankhurst.

However, Gore-Booth's efforts, along with the energy of the suffragists as a whole, is often overshadowed by the suffragettes. While Gore-Booth turned her back on her friendship with Pankhurst when the latter took a step more radical, Gore-Booth's distributions of pamphlets and constant writing of letters - the more 'rational' methods of campaigning - were  just as monumental in the progression to the end of women's oppresion.

It annoys me greatly that so many people just think feminists are crying out for attention and looking for an excuse to conduct a rebellion. Until these accusations are stamped out, we will never truly be able to succeed in our struggle for equality, or, in some cases, superiority.

REVIEW: Shakespeare's Macbeth | Nice Swan at People's Theatre, Newcastle

This week, Nice Swan Theatre Company take over the People's Theatre with their production of the Scottish play. No, not a Scottish play. The Scottish play! You know the one...


Okay, there. I said it. Fortunately, no amount of curses could have hindered Nice Swan's performance of the infamous play by William Shakespeare.

The seventeenth-century tragedy tells the tale of Macbeth, who has been informed by three witches that he is prophesied to become King. His uncontrollable ambition for his destiny soon turns his succession to turmoil when he and Lady Macbeth are faced with horrific bloodbath on their hands.

Dale Jewitt and Michaela Forbes are wonderful as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. They bring to life such infamous characters with their intrinsic talents. Certainly the cast in its entirety is overflown with great abilities; it is Charlie Martin's interpretation of the eerie First Witch that leaves audience members stunned in awe.

The script penned in verse is spoken with great beauty. Directed by Lee Rosher, each scene segues effortlessly into the next; and the aesthetics of the staging and set design when unified with costume allows for a thrilling experience like no other.

With a production Shakespeare would be proud of, Nice Swan propels the powerful darkness of the madness of Macbeth with excitement and expertise.


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