Walking D H Lawrence’s Nottinghamshire
Eastwood, which lies around eight miles away from Nottingham, is bustling with events and activities over the next few weeks to celebrate the life and legacy of the town’s most famous son – D.H. Lawrence.
Nottingham was recently named a UNESCO City of Literature, and the county’s lyrical landscapes have shaped and inspired the writing of everyone from Lord Byron to J.M Barrie and Alan Stilitoe over the years.
D.H. Lawrence often wrote of his love of the Notts’ countryside, and in 1929, penned of the woodlands around Eastwood: ‘To me it seemed, and still seems an extremely beautiful countryside, just between the red sandstone and oak trees of Nottingham and the cold limestone, the ash trees, the stone fences of Derbyshire’.
As part of the extensive festival programme we headed to his hometown – Eastwood – to enjoy a heritage walk into the heart of the magnificent scenery, ahead of the anniversary of his birthday this weekend.
Following a quick visit to the well-stocked D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum, which is located on a wonderfully quaint Victorian street of red-brick houses and cobbled streets just off Eastwood’s high street, we met with the D.H. Lawrence Heritage Society, and D.H. Lawrence enthusiasts from as far away as Israel to begin the walk, which took us through the knotted woodlands and open green fields that inspired the great writer.
Starting out at Colliers Wood Nature reserve, we circled countryside that Lawrence so often wrote about, stopping at literary landmarks at the along the way.
Site of Felley Mill
Felley Mill makes an appearance in three of Lawrence’s novels. It was named ‘Strelley Mill’ in The White Peacock and Sons and Lovers, and ‘the mill’ was referred to in Women in Love. Lawrence describes it as an idyllic place and although the mill no longer stands, the beautiful countryside surrounding it remains largely untouched.
As we made our way through Underwood, we caught a glimpse of Haggs Farm, which belonged to the family of Lawrence’s friend Jessie Chambers. The farm served as a second home to him as young man and it is said to be where Lawrence was first inspired to write. Haggs Farm appears in Sons and Lovers, where it is renamed as Willey Farm.
The home of Lawrence’s Aunt Polly, Vine Cottage is featured in his early short story ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’. Concealed in woodland, the house can be found just off the track leading up to Brinsley Headstocks.
The twin headstocks in the village of Brinsley sit on the site of the former mine. D. H. Lawrence’s father Arthur worked in the pit, which ran from 1842 – 1934. The area is now a conservation area, a haven for wildlife and monument to Eastwood’s mining and literary history – we think Lawrence would approve.
The D H Lawrence Festival continues until 18th September 2016. Find the full programme here.