|8a Victoria Street|
David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)
On Tuesday I visited Eastwood again. This time I managed to visit the D H Lawrence Birthplace museum. It is 8a, Victoria Street and is on a timed entry system I made it for 11.00 a.m. and was the only person visiting so I had the guide all to myself. The visit is in three parts and takes about an hour and thirty minutes. The entrance to the museum is through the house on the corner of Victoria Street which was the grocery shop at the time of D. H. Today the ground floor is the gift shop and the first floor has two museum rooms where visitors are left for about ten minutes to view the artefacts from the appropriate era. Some were actually from D.H's personal possessions. I was impressed by the trunk which accompanied him on his journeys abroad. There was a personal photo album as well as copies of his work. The second part of the tour is a DVD depicting his life and the final part is a guided tour round the 'two-up, two-down' where he was born.
We started in the upstairs front bedroom where he was born. You can see it in the photo on the left behind the net curtain. A small room looking out onto the street. The whole house has been recreated for the appropriate time when D.H. lived there; even to authentic wallpaper. Both bedrooms have the typical Victorian bedsteads but are very basic; floorboards covered only by a simple rug. They have fireplaces but fires were seldom lit. The back bedroom would have been occupied by D.H.'s sister and in this room are the stairs leading up to the attic space where the boys slept. On the ground floor the kitchen has been accurately recreated with the old kitchen range where his mother would have spent a lot of her time both cooking and black leading it. During this period of our British history a woman was judged on how shining her range was, how clean her front step and her lace curtains. How things have changed. D.H.'s (who was known as Bert by the family) father worked down the mine and would come home in need of a bath. A hip bath can be seen in the kitchen by the range and one could imagine him returning in the evening and washing in this bath in the kitchen before sitting down to his meal at the kitchen table. The only other room in the house is the front parlour, only used on Sundays, and special occasions. The parlour window, as seen above, was large and that enabled Mrs. Lawrence to display crocheted/lace items for sale in the window which helped her housekeeping funds.
On the photo above it looks like a garage entrance to the yard behind. In Bert's day this would have been the lower story of the house next door. Today it leads through to the backyard area where the communal washhouse(laundry) and toilets were and all were shared by the street. No privacy or inside bathrooms, electricity etc. Although looking pleasant today and recreated for tourism, in Bert's day the whole area would be rough ground and front and back would look out onto the streets.
I learned a lot about Bert's life and, in particular, his writing. He followed the traditional rule and wrote about what he knew. I discovered that many of the buildings he was familiar with are in his novels... fascinating.
Bert lived in Eastwood for the first 23 years of his life and there were four family homes in the town. For the visitor there is a 'blue line' trail where one may walk around the town seeing all of the properties and others relating to his life. The birthplace is 4. At the bottom of Victoria Street is number 2, Princes Street. This is in the photo above and is typical of the type of street in D. H.'s day but without satellite dishes and decorative trees. Did I walk the blue line, do I hear you ask? Well, it was very breezy and the batteries needed replacing in the camera and well shouldn't you always leave something for the next time?
Those of you who read my blog six weeks ago on my last visit to Eastwood will remember my trip to the Durban House Heritage Centre (number 1). I saw the Museum and the Rainbow Gallery and then I had a delicious jacket potato with bacon and cheese at the Bistro. Well, by the time I'd finished this tour I was salivating at the thoughts of that jacket potato so I went via Princes Street down to the Heritage Centre and into the Bistro. I wasn't disappointed. That jacket potato was to die for. To the dear lady who cooked it and the waitress who served me... thank you. 'Bert' would be proud of you.
So, if you're in the area or want more info on the D.H. Lawrence Heritage visit
Until next week when I'll be looking at competitions have a great time.