Photo Essays

Millthorpe Revisited

by John Baker

Over the past few years a number of us have had the chance to visit Carpenter House at Millthorpe, where Edward Carpenter lived for nearly 40 years. In 2005 and 2006 groups from the Edward Carpenter Community have also been to explore Millthorpe and the surrounding area, as part of ECC events to celebrate Carpenter’s life. It was during the second of these, in May 2006, that the formation of an Edward Carpenter Forum was proposed. The following photographs give a glimpse of Millthorpe as it looks today.

Click on any of the images to download a larger version.






ecf1.jpg Image 1. Millthorpe

Millthorpe lies in Derbyshire, about 10 miles south of Sheffield.


















ecf2.jpg Image 2. CARPENTER HOUSE

Carpenter House is currently run as a 'Bed & Breakfast', the owner kindly welcoming us to look round.






































ecf4.jpgImage 4. CARPENTER HOUSE








































ecf6.jpgImage 6. CARPENTER HOUSE

Some of the ECC group visiting the house, May 2006.











ecf7.jpgImage 7. CARPENTERS HUT

The hut that Carpenter built by the millstream, and where he went to write, stood beneath the Scots Pines.






















ecf8.jpgImage. 8 Carpenter's Hut




















ecf9.jpgImage 9. AROUND MILLTHORPE

A walk along the south side of the Cordwell valley.















ecf10.jpgImage 10. CARPENTER HOUSE

The view of Carpenter House below, with Holmesfield village on the horizon.


















ecf11.jpgImage 11. THE ROYAL OAK

The Royal Oak Pub at Millthorpe, in which Carpenter’s partner, George Merrill, sank many a pint, and where Carpenter played the piano for Sunday evening sing-a-longs.






















ecf12.jpg Image 12. THE ROYAL OAK

Enjoying afternoon tea at the pub, May 2006



















ecf13.jpg Image 13. SHEILA ROWBOTHAM

Eminent feminist and political historian, Sheila Rowbotham, professor at Manchester University, visited the events in both 2005 and 2006. She spoke to us first on Carpenter’s socialism, and then, in May 2006, on his relationships with women. Sheila has had a long standing interest in Carpenter, first publishing on him in 1977. Sheila is currently preparing a major new biography of Carpenter.

















ecf14.jpg Image 14. TOTLEY STATION

Two or three miles from Millthorpe, the station of ‘Totley and Dore’ was where Carpenter first met George Merrill in 1891.


















ecf15.jpg Image 15. TOTLEY STATION

Sheila Rowbotham on the station platform, with Sally Goldsmith and Rony Robinson our local guides and Carpenter enthusiasts.


















ecf16.jpg Image 16. HOLMESFIELD CHURCH

Here is to be found the grave of George Hukin and his wife Fanny, and the graves of others from Carpenter’s circle.


















ecf17.jpg Image 17. GEORGE HUKIN

The Sheffield razor grinder, George Hukin, was perhaps Carpenter’s greatest love. We laid flowers on his grave, and read Carpenter’s poetic description of him from Towards Democracy.























ecf18.jpgImage 18. HUKIN'S GRAVE




















ecf19.jpgImage 19. JOSEPH SHARPE

Joseph Sharpe was a wandering, harp playing, Socialist and Anarchist, well known to Carpenter.























ecf20.jpg Image 20. BRADWAY

On first coming to the area in 1880, Carpenter stayed at Charles Fox’s farm in the hamlet of Bradway, lodging with the farm labourer Albert Fearnehough and his family in their cottage. A time of great happiness for Carpenter, it was here that he wrote the first part of Towards Democracy. Although now buried within a housing estate, the old stone buildings of the farmhouse and the cottage can still be seen. And in May 2006 the group was surprised to discover a relative of the original Charles Fox still living in the old farmhouse.
















ecf21.jpgImage 21. JOEY CAIN

Joey Cain from San Francisco, for many years a student of Carpenter, joined us in both 2005 and 2006. He spoke on Carpenter’s relationship with Walt Whitman and the evidence for a love affair between the two men. He also spoke of Carpenter’s influence on the radical American gay campaigner Harry Hay, whom Joey knew well.

















ecf22.jpgImage 22. RONY ROBINSON

Rony Robinson, author, and presenter with BCC Radio Sheffield, was born at Totley, not far from Millthorpe. Whilst still an undergraduate at Oxford, he developed an interest in Carpenter. Over the years Rony has written two plays about Carpenter. He has also figured in more than one of Rony’s novels. Rony and his partner Sally joined us in May 2006, and Rony kindly agreed to play the part of Carpenter in our cabaret style celebration, in words and music, of Carpenter’s life and loves.