The House of Byron: Newstead’s Dysfunctional Dynasty

Annual Paul Mellon Lecture

This event took place virtually on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at 1 PM (EST). See below for more information on the discussion, including the event description and speaker information. 

Event Description

Newstead! What saddening scene of change is thine,
Thy yawning arch betokens sure decay;
The last and youngest of a noble line
Now holds thy mouldering turrets in his sway

(Elegy on Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron)

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This year’s Paul Mellon Lecture “The House of Byron: Newstead’s Dysfunctional Dynasty” will explore Newstead Abbey, once one of the most admired aristocratic houses in England at the beginning of the 18th century. The ancestral seat of the Byron family – following the dissolution of the monasteries – would eventually be inherited by Lord Byron, romantic poet, and no stranger to a scandal.

The event will focus on Byron’s relationship with Newstead, the chain of events that resulted in its decline, and its 21st century revival following inclusion on the World Monuments Watch in 2012.  World Monuments Fund Britain will be joined by rising star author and historian Emily Brand, as she discusses her book The Fall of the House of Byron and reveals the fascinating history behind Newstead Abbey. The evening’s host and WMFB Executive Director, John Darlington, will also be joined by Zoe Skelding, Partner Architect at Purcell, who recently oversaw the West Front Conservation.

Date: Wednesday, 9 December

Time: 1pm EST // 6pm GMT 


About the Speakers


Emily Brand

Author and Historian specialising in the long eighteenth century

Emily Brand is an author, historian and genealogist with a special interest in the history of love and sex c.1660–1837. Her new book The Fall of the House of Byron is a sweeping history of the
18th century through the eyes of one notorious family, and is published by John Murray. 

Having completed an MA in 18th Century Studies, Emily worked for some years as a senior editor of academic history, trade history and classic literature for Oxford University. Her early published work on the history of love and sex delved into courtship techniques, 18th-century brothels, and royal weddings. She has since written for national and international media including BBC History magazine, The Times, The Telegraph, the Radio Times and the Washington Post, and featured on numerous podcasts and radio shows including Dan Snow's History Hit, BBC History Extra and ABC Radio.


Zoe Skelding

Partner Architect at Purcell

Zoë has worked extensively across the public, cultural and education sectors. She is adept at managing demanding projects with institutional clients and finding acceptable solutions for stakeholders with varying priorities. Zoë is very interested in contemporary design to accompany her experience working in the historic built environment.

She is enthusiastic about innovations in environmentally responsible design and their application to both heritage and new building projects. She has particular technical and design skills and enjoys working alongside specialist craftspeople on sites.

Zoë’s enthusiasm gained her a place at the Attingham Summer School in 2011. This internationally known course looks in-depth at the English country house, its setting, interiors and content.


John Darlington 

Executive Director, WMF Britain

John Darlington, an archaeologist and author, joined World Monuments Fund (WMF) in 2015 to lead the British affiliate. Prior to joining WMF, he led projects for the UK’s National Trust focused on historic mansions, gardens and landscapes across North West England. He also served as County Archaeologist for Lancashire, and is a specialist in medieval towns and landscapes, castles and abbeys.

John is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, and a Professor of Practice at the University of Wales Trinity St David. He holds a BA from Lancaster University, an MA from the University of Birmingham and an MSc from Liverpool John Moores University. He is also the author of over 50 publications, and a regular contributor to The Art Newspaper and other journals.