Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth

After going to the Haworth 1940s weekend, I went back a few weeks later to see the Bronte Parsonage Museum. The line into the museum was too long earlier and the children probably wouldn't be interested by what was inside. So this trip was focused on the museum and some of the Bronte-related places in town.

Bronte Parsonage Museum, Haworth

Back of the museum/parsonage

Patrick Bronte was not the first or last minister to live at the Haworth Parsonage, but surely he was the most famous. He was incumbent there from 1820 to 1861, when he died. He brought his family, including six children. The two eldest daughters, Maria and Elizabeth, died in childhood after being sent to a school for clergymen's daughters. Charlotte and Emily also went to the school but Patrick kept them home after the deaths of their siblings. The mother also died (from uterine cancer) two years after moving to Haworth. Her sister, Elizabeth Branwell, moved from Cornwall to help raise the other four children. She taught the girls various domestic chores; the girls and their brother Branwell would make up stories for fun.

Emily, Charlotte, and Anne eventually had successful writing careers, though they initially published their novels and poetry under pen names. They assumed that literary works by women would not be well received critically or commercially. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were immediate sensations.

Their brother Branwell tried many different employments, including painting, but was never successful. He took to drinking and eventually died of tuberculosis in 1848, followed to the grave by Emily and Anne over the next year. Charlotte lived on to take care of their father. She finally married in 1854 but died the next year. Their father lived on with his son-in-law until his death in 1861.

The house passed on to other ministers until it was bought and turned into a museum dedicated to the literary memory of the sisters. The museum does not allow interior photography, so I can't show the interesting items inside. Several first or early editions of their books (with their pseudonyms) are on display, as well as small books they created as children. The usual assortment of clothing and other personal items are also on display. Almost none of the furniture is original to the Brontes. Visitors can see the room that served as a studio for Branwell's painting and the living room where the sisters wrote and discussed their novels and poetry.

Right across the street from the Parsonage is a school building where Charlotte had taught. Now it is used as a public hall.

The Old School Room

That sign between the two windows

Back of the school

Behind the Parsonage is the rolling moors of Haworth, certainly an inspiration for the sisters.

A nice spring day

In front of the Parsonage, barely 100 yards away is the church where Patrick held services.

St. Michael and All Angels church

Where the gate to the church was

The church graveyard

Nearby is the Kings Arms, a pub that was frequent by Branwell. The pub had a rather ominous sign.

The Kings Arms, Haworth


Close by was a rather encouraging sign. After reading Jane Eyre last year, I feel like I should give Wuthering Heights a try soon.

Sadly, not available as a post card at the museum shop

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