Lord Byron, considered by some to be the greatest romantic poet of his time, was Newstead Abbey's most famous owner. He inherited the estate from his great-uncle at the age of ten, and lived there at various times between 1808 and 1814. His life was short but tempestuous and filled with scandal: huge debts, numerous love affairs and a rumoured incestuous liaison with his half-sister. One of his mistresses, Lady Caroline Lamb, said that he was 'mad, bad and dangerous to know'. There is speculation that he may have suffered from bipolar disorder. He died, aged 36, from a fever contracted in Greece, where he went to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence. The equivalent of a modern-day rock star, Byron was popularly mourned but various institutions including Westminster Abbey refused to bury or honour him. He was buried in a church near Newstead. It was not until 1969 that a memorial was finally placed in Westminster Abbey.
Byron had a beloved Newfoundland dog called Boatswain, who died of rabies and was buried, with a monument (see photo) larger than that later accorded to its master! The inscription is from Byron's poem 'Epitaph to a Dog'.