Love birds create a Valentine’s story for Newstead

Valentine’s Day is upon us and love is in the air – or in the Cloister Garden if you’re a white peacock at Newstead Abbey.

Like something straight out of a Byron poem – the romantic poet lived at Newstead between 1808 and 1814 – a special love nest has been created in the hope it will lead to a new brood of the rare birds.

It has been set up by gardener Arthur Parkinson, who last year successfully reared a white peacock at Newstead after buying an egg from online auction site eBay for £40. ‘Tracy’ was initially incubated by a chicken before hatching to become what is thought to be the first of her kind in the abbey’s history.

Now, in time for Valentine’s Day, Arthur has brought in an eligible bachelor in the form of three-year-old Spencer, who is of American descent and arrived from a breeder in Worcester. The pair are getting along very well and the 22-year-old gardener is hoping Tracy might lay some eggs by the summer.

Arthur, from Hucknall, a former apprentice at Newstead who spent a year working at Kew Gardens in London, said: “I’m delighted that Tracy has settled in so well and really encouraged by how well she’s getting along with Spencer, so much so that I’ve bought them a special Valentine’s Day bird cake to celebrate!

“The historic Cloister Garden will be a perfectly safe nursery for Tracy and Spencer to raise a family, and in time it would be wonderful to develop a flock to roam freely around the estate like their blue-feathered friends.

“Everyone at Newstead has been so supportive with this project and I hope that people who visit the house will enjoy seeing these magnificent animals.”

The lovebirds share the beautiful grounds at Newstead with another peacock, Arthur, and a peahen Abbie, although they are currently confined to the Cloister Garden.

Jo Hunt, commercial manager at Newstead Abbey, said: “Arthur’s passion for wildlife and nature is infectious and there for everyone to see. He has worked really hard to establish a small collection of peacocks on the site, which traditionally has been home to a number of wild birds down the years.

“We are hopeful that this love story will take a twist worthy of our Byron history with the arrival of some chicks in a few months’ time.”

Cat Arnold, Executive Assistant for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “Newstead Abbey is the perfect backdrop for such a ‘love story’ at this romantic time of the year, and congratulations to Arthur for all his hard work and dedication.

“We’ll keep a keen eye on this blossoming relationship between Tracy and Spencer and we hope there might be news of some arrivals in the summer.”

The grounds of Newstead Abbey are open between 9am and 5pm all year round, and the site has special Valentine’s events taking place. An Evening Tour followed by a romantic meal in the West Front Suite has already sold out this Friday, but places remain for a Vintage Afternoon Tea being held on Sunday, February 15 between noon and 4pm. Tickets for this are £15 per person.

Meanwhile, visitors can take a romantic evening tour at Wollaton Hall, hear romantic tales of the site and experience a superb rooftop view of Nottingham’s skyline, followed by a glass of wine in the magnificent Prospect Room, on Saturday, February 14. The event is from 7.30pm to 9.30pm and the cost is £15. Booking is essential, contact 0115 876 1057 – see www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/ for more.

For those who pop the question this Valentine’s Day, find out more about weddings at our heritage sites by contacting Newstead on 01623 455900 or email newstead.abbey@nottinghamcity.gov.uk and Wollaton on 0115 876 3100 or wollaton.hall@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

Watch videos of the two Peacocks at Newstead here, here and here

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