Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire was, for a time, Lord George Gordon Byron's family estate. It covered 600 acres.


At one point, the parish St Mary's Church was also part of the estate. It was here that Lord Byron would ultimately be buried. A secret passage, accessed from one of Newstead Abbey's bed chambers, led through the east wing to the kitchen garden. This was one of "a whole network" of hidden passages within the Abbey.

Colonel Wildman bought the estate from Byron over 30 years before 1852. According to Wildman, it was in a sorry state when he acquired the land. In those 30 years, Wildman had the Abbey restored, or at least "somewhat improved", as he modestly acknowledged.

For a time, around 1852, Ada Lovelace stayed at Newstead Abbey. This was her husband Lord King's desire, to keep her from gambling. While there, she spent much time with Wildman, playing cards and betting only on buttons. At night, however, the Countess of Lovelace would sneak out, off the estate, to visit the Papplewick Arms for a friendly game of cribbage. Ada did so in secret, as Colonel Wildman had been instructed not to allow gambling to take place in his home during her time at the Abbey.

In her sleep, Lovelace unconsciously processed Block Transfer Computations, given to her by the Finlar contagion, a computer virus from the 71st century manifesting in the image of her father, Lord Byron. The vast maze outside, shaped from yew hedges in the rose garden, was a physical manifestation of this knowledge she was obtaining. It grew each time she was given new code to process.

When the Fourth Doctor and Ann Kelso materialised within this maze, and decided to introduce themselves, Wildman understood the Doctor to be a medic, having called for one after the Countess fainted. Taking a visit in her quarters, Ada quickly took to the Doctor. While acting as a maid, Ann met Hettie and Mr Hobhouse, the latter of whom showed her the way to the scullery, as she said she was in search of a cold compress for the Countess. He also informed her that the cook was no longer in the kitchens.

That night, both Ann and Mr Hobhouse stood outside in wait, seeking to spy on the Countess, who seemed to be leaving the grounds at night, judging by the state of her wears. Both knew to be suspicious of Hettie, who, when seen cleaning said dirty clothes, had appeared to be lying in her response to Ann's simple questioning.

The two visited Ada's chamber, confirmed that she wasn't there, and then hid together in one of the room's large closets. From here, Mr Hobhouse observed Hettie entering, and then taking the Lady's notebooks, before moving out of sight. Ann quickly discovered a hidden entrance to the secret passage from Ada's bed chamber. They followed it outside, and watched as Hettie sold the books to Edvard Scheutz.

On the same night, while travelling back from the Papplewick Arms together, Ada revealed to the Doctor that she had chosen Newstead for her exile because it was the site of her father, Lord Byron's, tomb. She visited this site often, in part because she habitually saw manifestations that she believed were of her father. Together, they visited St Mary's Church, where both heard and saw the spectre of Lord Byron. It was actually the virus, which spoke in binary. Ava repeated each 1 and 0, as though in a trance.

Upon their return, shortly after midnight, St Mary's Church ceased to have existed, and Ada could not remember her encounter with "Lord Byron". Colonel Wildman decided that the Doctor was a fraud, based on his insistence about the church and encouragement of Ada's vices. He promptly had him and his "maid" locked up. The following morning, Mr Hobhouse released them. The maze had expanded, due to Ada's unconscious Block Transfer Computations.

Later, while Ada confronted the image of her father, the Doctor created friction and set fire to the Newstead Abbey maze, destroying Ada's knowledge of Block Transfer Computation with it. The virus was thus unable to exert its influence on her notes and change history.

With the Doctor and Ann about to depart, none of those present remembered these events, though Ada had the "strangest feeling" about her approaching death, deciding to make the most of the time she had left, perhaps to held Scheutz after all. Just as Mr Hobhouse questioned the nature of the "blue box" beyond the ha-ha, the TARDIS dematerialised. As they walked off, the group deliberated upon some new features for the garden. (AUDIO: The Enchantress of Numbers)