Book reviews, Summer 2017

MIRIAM’S FARM: the story of Haggs Farm, D.H.Lawrence and the Chambers family

Edited by Clive Leivers

Haggs Farm Preservation Society £8.50 + £1.30 P&P Available from Brian Rich 11 Adams Grove, Leek ST13 8NX

D.H.Lawrence found his ‘first incentive to write’ in Haggs Farm, the people who lived there and the surrounding countryside. The farm, the landscape and the Chambers family inspired his first novel The White Peacock and provided the models for Miriam’s farm and family in Sons and Lovers. Between 1901 and 1908 Lawrence visited the farm so regularly that he almost became one of he family, and in later years still referred to the area as ‘the country of my heart’. This collection of essays explores that relationship, relate the history of the farm and its tenants, and deal with other aspects of the life of the Chambers family, in particular that of Jessie, ‘D.H.Lawrence’s Princess’. The book is in memory of Professor Jonathan David Chambers (1898-1970) who was born at Hagg’s farm and was mainly responsible for securing its listed building status, and who knew Lawrence very well. The book describes the various families, in addition to the Chambers, who were tenants of the farm and of course there is much about Lawrence himself.

This book is an interesting read and throws much new light on a major influence on the work of D.H.Lawrence. My only criticism is that the contents list on page 7 had the page numbers of the chapters written in by hand. Hopefully the copy I received for review was a pre-publication copy and I assume that the contents list is now printed correctly.

A HISTORY OF KIRKBY WOODHOUSE Kirkby and District Archaeological Group

£3.50 plus £1.30 P&P, available from the Group via

This booklet is a re-printing with enhancements of a booklet produced in the 1950s by Mr Johnson, the then head teacher of Kirby Woodhouse School. The history begins with the Domesday Book entry for ‘Chirchebi’ and is gradually brought up to the 20th century. There was believed to have been an old chapel or monastery near to the Chapel Banks, and a ploughman in the early years of the 20th century had dug up a large ashlar (a square hewn stone) which appeared to have come from the Old Chapel. In the 19th century many of the inhabitants had been involved in framework knitting. Even into the 20th century, gleaning in the fields was common after the harvest.

The booklet describes the various church denominations, and in particular the rectors of the Old Church, one of whom rode a ‘grey nag’ with a red cape across his shoulders. An interesting read!

John Wilson