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Frank Bacon - Express Article, 22 Nov 1990

(For Nearby Villages photo's click below)



CONTROVERSIAL sex novel Lady Chatterley's Lover was set in the reputedly haunted Shipley Hall
 - DEBBIE JONES recalls its past...

THE Amber Valley, its landmarks, its people and its way of life, is inseparable from Britain's most prolific
Contemporary writer - DH Lawrence.


For the famous son of an Eastwood miner based many of his novels on memories of favourite places, old lovers and friends.

Heanor's haunted Shipley Hall is one such place - with many folk believing that the hall, its grounds and its inhabitants inspired Lawrence to write his most controversial novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Keen local historian Mr Frank Bacon claims that the young D H Lawrence would often come from Eastwood to walk around the hall's grounds.

"It was quite common for people at the time to walk along the Erewash Valley and Lawrence was no different," he explained.

RUIN

"When you read the novel there are many striking similarities between the fictitious scenery and that at Shipley Hall."
The hall has always fuelled an active imagination and macabre tales of hauntings and tragedy have shrouded its history in mystery and intrigue.

Many locals have reported ghostly sightings of a shadowy woman looking out from one of the halls second floor windows - the ruin does not have any internal floors.

The Miller-Mundy family who owned the hall also attracted interest from local folk and their eccentric ways soon sparked off gossip throughout the area.

Mr Bacon said the hall was originally owned by the Miller family in 1760.

And he revealed how the Miller name went on to become Miller-Mundy.

"The family didn't have a son so they quickly sorted out a marriage between their daughter Esther and the son of the Mundy family of Allestree Hall near Derby."

During this wealthy family's "reign" at Shipley their eight tenant farmers were subject to the most obscure and seemingly petty rules.

Mr Bacon said: "All the properties painted in Apple Green had to have their curtains tied back with red ribbon that measured no more than four inches in width.

"And none of the residents were allowed to grow vegetables in their front gardens as the squire provided them with an allotment purely for this purpose,"

Despite the Miller-Mundy's quirky ways they were one of the most forward thinking and modern families in the country.
"With their farms and coal mines they were a very wealthy family," he said, "and they used their money to become one of the first homes to have electric lighting.

"They also had one of the finest gardens - a beautiful Italian style one and a garden filled with loads of soft fruit trees."
Shipley Hall's sad decline began after the Great War when death duties forced the family to sell up.

"None of the family at that time seemed committed to keeping it," said Mr Bacon.

"Godfrey, the eldest son who was an officer in the Royal Lifeguards was set to marry a London actress and naturally he wanted to live down there rather than in Shipley."

Mr Bacon said: "The house was bought by the Yorkshire Colliery Company, which became the National Coal Board in 1947.

"The house was not used and it has been said a rich pillar of coal under the house was mined causing severe subsidence."