Nottinghamshire - Pubs and Inns with a literary connection



D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love continues the story of sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen who had first appeared in The Rainbow (1915). Some saw the novel as filled with depravity and vice, but Lawrence (who appears as Rupert) maintained it was his finest work.
One of the most powerful sequences is played out in chapter 23 when Rupert and Ursula drive to Southwell and take tea at the Saracen’s Head. "They sat together in a little parlour by the fire… He stood on the hearth-rug looking at her, at her face that was upturned exactly like a flower...." But, this being Lawrence, Ursula was soon: "…drawn to him strangely, as in a spell. Kneeling on the hearth-rug before him, she put her arms round his loins, and put her face against his thigh." Sensibly they waited to consummate their passion in the depths of Nottingham Forest - on a blanket on the ground. But not before they scoffed the meal that was provided which included: "…a venison pasty, of all things, a large broad-faced cut ham, eggs and cresses and red beet-root, and medlars and apple-tart, and tea…’What good things!’ she cried with pleasure. ‘…shall I pour out the tea?’".
Lord Byron, the greatest romantic poet of them all was a local resident and knew the Saracens Head well. In 1807 he wrote a jokey epitaph for John Adams a local carrier and the pub’s best customer:

John Adams lies here, of the parish of Southwell,
A carrier, who carried his can to his mouth well;
He carried so much, and carried so fast,
He could carry no more – so was carried at last;
For the liquor he drank, being too much for one,
He could not carry off, so he’s now carri-on.

In one of Byron’s Southwell letters, he says: "I have been transporting a servant who cheated me, performing in private theatricals, (possibly in the assembly room of the Saracens Head) publishing a volume of poems, making love, and taking physic." The pub keeps the connection alive with the traditional splendour of its ‘Lord Byron Restaurant’. Charles I spent his last night of freedom here on 5th May 1646. The next day, in the inn’s coffee-room, he surrendered to the Scots, who sold him to Cromwell for £400,000. The inn changed its name from the King's Head after his execution!

Saracen's Head - Southwell - Nottinghamshire - D.H. Lawrence, Lord Byron
Three Tuns


A family photo at the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Victoria Street, Eastwood, shows the middle-class Mrs Lawrence sitting enthroned at the heart of her family, while her husband (whom she despised) perches awkwardly at its edge. One glance into her eyes shows this was not a woman who felt her life's purpose was fulfilled by scrubbing her spouse's back in a tin bath, or hanging his moleskin trousers out to dry each evening.
To celebrate the various landmarks in Eastwood related to Lawrence, a blue line has been painted on some pavements. It leads from the Birthplace past the family’s three other houses - each an improvement on the last, reflecting Mrs Lawrence’s effort to ensure the family kept progressing up the property ladder.
The last point on the trail is the ‘Three Tuns’ pub;’, where Lawrence's father went to drink and to escape from his disappointed wife. In Lawrence’s autobiographical novel Sons and Lovers the pub appears as the ‘Moon and Stars’ where Walter, head of the Morel family, drinks. A notice, on the trail, records that the car park in front of the inn has always been this big because this is where hill fairs or "wakes" were held at the turn of the century.
Chapter 1 opens at the wakes fair with Morel inside the pub "elping Anthony" as his wife: "…went slowly away with her little girl, whilst her son (Paul) stood watching her, cut to the heart to let her go, and yet unable to leave the wakes. As she crossed the open ground in front of the Moon and Stars she heard men shouting, and smelled the beer, and hurried a little, thinking her [bullying drunkard of a] husband was probably in the bar".
Later in the story we find Paul Morel grown and playing a game of billiards in the pub with a friend. And it also gets a passing mention under its own name in ‘Lady Chatterley's Lover’ when: "… The car slid on downhill, past the Miners Arms. It had already passed the Wellington, the Nelson, the Three Tuns and the Sun...” During the past couple of years the Three Tuns, has been refurbished with D.H. Lawrence memorabilia. There are five of his books in box frames, a plaque of the author’s birth place and photographs of him when he was at The University of Nottingham.

Eastwood - Three Tuns - D. H. Lawrence

Copyright T.W. Townsend - the opinions expressed herein are those of the author and any observations were correct at the time of the review.

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