If you’ve followed my blog for a while you’ll know I live in West Yorkshire, not far from Haworth and the home of the Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne. I’ve visited the Brontë parsonage many times. Every time I discover something new, and I always come away with another perspective on this extraordinary family.
With each visit, I’m always struck by the same two things. Firstly, with the tiny size of the house and the rooms, which had to accommodate the three sisters, their brother, Branwell, their father, Patrick, their aunt, Elizabeth, and two servants. It must have been terribly claustrophobic, especially when you consider the affect of living in such a confined space with poor Branwell, with his restlessness, his depression and his addictions. Branwell’s life and his effect on the family is movingly and convincingly portrayed in the excellent BBC programme, To Walk Invisible. (If you haven’t seen this programme, it’s available as a DVD on Amazon).
The second thing that always strikes me is the tragedy surrounding the family. In the nineteenth century people were more hardened to the realities of illness and death than we are today, but the Brontës must surely have suffered more than most. Their mother died in her thirties, leaving six children under eight. The two older daughters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis four years later, within months of one another, at the parsonage in Haworth. They were just 11 and 10. Charlotte became the eldest sibling. In just a few short months in 1848/9, Charlotte lost Branwell, Emily and Anne, who were aged only 31, 30 and 29. Charlotte herself died a few years later, aged 38, leaving their grief-stricken father the last surviving member of the entire family.
Although I find the house oppressive, the Brontë siblings were said to have loved their home and to dislike being away from it. It was certainly a place of extraordinary creativity, passion and emotion.
There was a time when photos were not allowed at the parsonage. Now visitors are allowed to take photos (without a flash). Here are some of mine, from a recent visit.
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If you have visited the parsonage before, I’d love to know what you thought of it, and what lasting impression you have of it.
If you live too far to visit Haworth, I hope you’ve enjoyed my photos and they’ve given just a glimpse of the Brontë sisters’ lives. Every time I visit, I am amazed at the imaginations of these three women, and the wonderful stories that emerged from this tiny house on the edge of the moors.
If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!