Being unsophisticated and uncouth, its time to get myself some culture and get educated about the local area visiting the DH Lawrence birthplace, Durban House heritage centre and Beauvale Priory. We’ve lived here 7 years and only just got round to visiting. Eastwood has come a long way since 1066 when it was a tiny settlement of 40 hectares and since the Greys of Codnor were Lords of the Manor. Its even got electricity. So it’s nicely timed that the DH Lawrence festival is in full swing this week, a series of tours and events in the local area and often for free. Not that my school ever educated or talked about one of the 20th century most controversial and influential writer born less than 12 miles from school in Mansfield. The furthest we’ve been is the Lawrence family grave, opposite our house. DH Lawrence isn’t there, he had his ashes spread at New Mexico by a ‘friend’ of his wife Frieda. The birthplace is only 0.6 miles away from where we live.
First up is, 8a Victoria Street in Eastwood, the original mining cottage where DH Lawrence was born in 1885. A traditional two up two down miners terrace as described in many of his book and plays. The house is furnished and restored as it was in Lawrence’s time with period furniture and some quite swanky wallpaper. In modern parlance, it would be described as compact and bijou. Out of the house, the hill across the road is the ‘Minton’ colliery in ‘Sons and Lovers’ which is actually the waste tip from the former Moorgreen colliery. It’s pretty countryside now.
Next is Durban House, the DH Lawrence heritage centre. Of course, DH Lawrence, or Bert, is probably best known for his novels including Sons and Lovers, Women In Love and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Back in the day, Lady Chatterley’s Lover was considered pure filth, the original 50 Shades of Grey, banned for 30 years and subject to an obscenity trial. Also on display are some of his paintings, 13 of them seized by the Police in 1929 including ‘Fight With an Amazon,” described as “gross and obscene” but not before 12,000 people had viewed them. They’re really not that good. People have always loved a bit of controversy though.
These are not the only memories or tourist trails for DH Lawrence. There most well-known is the Blue Line Trail linking various DH Lawrence related sites.
As part of the local events, we also visited Beauvale Priory. Beauvale Priory was a Carthusian charterhouse built in 1343 by Nicholas de Cantilupe, Lord of the Manor of Greasley. The monks lived a silent and peaceful life, in poverty, they were known as Christ’s poor men, in this beautiful quiet countryside for 200 years until the Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries. They would not accept Henry VIII as head of the church and change their faith. St John Houghton and St Robert Lawrence were martyred at Tyburn on the 4th May 1535, executed as traitors where they were hung, drawn and quartered as the very first martyrs of the Reformation.