Filey had a population of around five hundred in 1801, at which time it was a fishing village straddling the border between the North and East Riding of Yorkshire. With the coming of the railways in 1847 Filey began to grow into a holiday resort, attracting many of the gentry. Amongst the visitors was Charlotte Bronte who stayed at Cliff House, which is now the Bronte Café.
The Bronte sisters loved the East Coast. They stayed in Bridlington, Filey and Scarborough.
Anne, the youngest of the Brontes, set the ending of her novel Agnes Grey at Scarbor-ough, where she had enjoyed holidays while governess to the Robinson family between 1841 and 1845. The family lived near Knaresborough and Anne first holidayed in Scarborough with them.
They took furnished rooms in "the best part of town", St Nicholas Cliff. Anne was delighted with the sea and the castle towering over North and South bays. She wrote: "Refreshed, delighted, invigorated, I walked along forgetting all my cares, feeling as if I had wings on my feet, and could go at least 40 miles without fatigue, and experiencing a sense of invigoration to which I had been an entire stranger since the days of early youth ... the sea was my delight."
She then went on to stay at Cliff House, Filey. Although it is easy to trace where she stayed, it is not so easy to follow her to the neglected little church, which may have been at Muston, she attended one Sunday. She described it as: "... not more than thrice the length and breadth of our passage, floored in brick, the walls green with time and decay. At one end there is a little gallery for the singers and when these personages stood up to perform they turned their backs on pulpit and parson."
Charlotte's first visit to the region was in 1821 when she was invited to come and stay at the coast by her school friend Ellen Nussey.
Charlotte was so moved by the sea that on her return home she wrote: "... the glories of the sea, the sound of its restless waves, formed a subject for much contemplation that never wearied either the eye, the ear or mind". filey