I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas: they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.
Emily Bronte
Wuthering Heights

zondag 1 januari 2012

Brontë landscape's battle for survival as new housing threatens tourist trade Haworth's church roof needs repairs, while plans for housing estates overshadow moors where the sisters walked

The Rector of Haworth's three daughters were with him last week as he prepared his sermons for Christmas and the new year, given in the church at the top of the steep hill of Main Street.
"Yes, I have three daughters, but they are not Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and happily they have all grown up to have families of their own," said the Rev Peter Mayo-Smith, incumbent at St Michael and All Angels parish church, where 190 years ago the Rev Patrick Brontë lived in the adjacent parsonage with his own three girls, the writers now established as among the most famous Englishwomen ever to have lived. "I did discover I was married on the same day as Rev Brontë married his Maria though, which was rather spooky."
But the Anglican clergyman does not really have to search about for reminders of his celebrated predecessor. Any time he steps into his church he finds 30 or 40 visitors clustered around the floor plaque that marks the early graves of Charlotte and Emily Jane. "It is very definitely a place of pilgrimage," he said. "People leave money and flowers, poems and books, every day."
Leaflets in the West Yorkshire church are being translated into Japanese, Chinese and Korean and visitors from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and America are commonplace.
"We have come here because of the books, of course," say an Italian couple, shaking off the cold rain in the porch of the church on Friday. "I studied them at university and I love them very much. Wuthering Heightsis my favourite," explains the young woman, who plans to stay for a week. In the old parsonage, which houses the Brontë museum, custodians often have to put up the sign asking tourists to wait outside for 10 minutes because the place is full.
But all is not well in "Brontëland". This winter Mayo-Smith has found himself at the centre of a battle to communicate to the wider world just how popular Haworth is as a tourist destination. The fate of the historic parish church, together with the future appearance of the whole Pennine village, is soon to be decided. In the middle of this month time will run out both on an appeal for maintenance funds for St Michael's and on a plan to build more modern housing estates in Haworth.
Regardless of the sale at auction last month of a miniature handwritten manuscript penned by the 14-year-old Charlotte for £690,850 and of the recent release of two new acclaimed film versions of Brontë novels,Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, the geographical legacy of the writers, a crucial source of local income, is in peril.
Along with John Huxley, secretary of the parochial church council and chairman of the parish council, the rector is fighting to preserve his church. Since the duo revealed its plight a year ago they have found staunch support among parishioners and from the international Brontë fan club, but they still need to find tens of thousands of pounds more.
St Michael's roof is leaking badly in several places and the plasterwork and rare wall paintings above the altar are disintegrating. Unsightly plastic sheeting covers the beams over the organ console at the entrance to the corner of the church which is now designated the Brontë Chapel.
Of equal importance to many in Haworth this new year is the parallel struggle to deter developers from building further housing estates across the hills once crossed by the literary sisters and their potent cast of characters.
"There is an assault on the Brontë landscape going on," said Huxley. "It is not deliberate, but the reason so many people come here is to see the streets and the hills and moor that the sisters wrote about. Some of these views should be sacrosanct."
Campaigners point out that the village is already dotted with new housing estates and several of the older villagers already regard their Haworth as a distant memory. The narrow, cobbled streets, or more correctly "setted" streets, that the Brontës walked may survive, but cul-de-sacs of bungalows and modern terraces are visible at every turn. Nevertheless, a further 14 potential development sites have been identified in a Local Development Framework document under consultation.
Huxley is bemused. "The document says it wants to preserve and promote Haworth as a tourist destination," he continued. "After all, it's perhaps second in England only to Stratford. Then, just a few pages on, it says we have to have new housing estates."
On the other side of the valley from the parish church stands the former home of the Merrall family, one-time mill owners and village benefactors who are commemorated in the stained-glass windows of the church. It has been usefully converted into an imposing youth hostel, but the once wild land surrounding the house has been covered with new builds and another planning application is lurking in the wings.
Huxley understands the need for new housing, he said, particularly for young first-time buyers, and he and his fellow campaigners are not opposed to shouldering some of the burden imposed by Bradford council's edict that 45,500 new homes must be built in the wider area, but they are desperate to protect what they – and English Heritage – regard as a location of international significance.
"There are three old mills in the village," said Huxley. "Surely we can develop a couple of these as brownfield sites, without going out into the greenfield areas?"
Mayo-Smith adds that Haworth may have craft shops and the Villette Coffee Shop, but it is not a well-to-do area and cannot look after its own future unaided: "There are houses I go to around here with no carpet and no paint or paper on the walls. There is need in Haworth."
This year the campaigners will be launching fresh strategies to get across their case. Not only will they be making a new appeal for repairs to the dilapidated roof of the Old School Room, built by Patrick Brontë and once taught in by Charlotte, but they are also planning to cost repairs to the wall paintings and sound out support for an annual Haworth Festival.
Since the villagers have begun to realise the parlous state of the church roof, they have rallied round. The Baptist, Catholic and Methodist congregations have offered support. Calendars with photographs of assorted naked villagers, one including the Baptist minister, are being sold to raise money. Small sums of money have also arrived in envelopes from Brontë readers in America.
Now 20 January looms large in Haworth, which is when English Heritage will come back to see if the church has raised the required £65,000 in order for it to release a pot of £100,000 to repair the worst side of the roof. So far the parish has raised just under £30,000. By chance 20 January is also the last day for objections to be registered to the planned housing developments before Bradford council rules on Haworth's future.
The isolated hill village, 700ft above sea level and still buffeted even in middling winter weather by the "wuthering" winds, is waiting to learn its fate. guardian/bronte-landscape-housing-tourist-trade

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Parsonage

Parsonage

Charlotte Bronte

Presently the door opened, and in came a superannuated mastiff, followed by an old gentleman very like Miss Bronte, who shook hands with us, and then went to call his daughter. A long interval, during which we coaxed the old dog, and looked at a picture of Miss Bronte, by Richmond, the solitary ornament of the room, looking strangely out of place on the bare walls, and at the books on the little shelves, most of them evidently the gift of the authors since Miss Bronte's celebrity. Presently she came in, and welcomed us very kindly, and took me upstairs to take off my bonnet, and herself brought me water and towels. The uncarpeted stone stairs and floors, the old drawers propped on wood, were all scrupulously clean and neat. When we went into the parlour again, we began talking very comfortably, when the door opened and Mr. Bronte looked in; seeing his daughter there, I suppose he thought it was all right, and he retreated to his study on the opposite side of the passage; presently emerging again to bring W---- a country newspaper. This was his last appearance till we went. Miss Bronte spoke with the greatest warmth of Miss Martineau, and of the good she had gained from her. Well! we talked about various things; the character of the people, - about her solitude, etc., till she left the room to help about dinner, I suppose, for she did not return for an age. The old dog had vanished; a fat curly-haired dog honoured us with his company for some time, but finally manifested a wish to get out, so we were left alone. At last she returned, followed by the maid and dinner, which made us all more comfortable; and we had some very pleasant conversation, in the midst of which time passed quicker than we supposed, for at last W---- found that it was half-past three, and we had fourteen or fifteen miles before us. So we hurried off, having obtained from her a promise to pay us a visit in the spring... ------------------- "She cannot see well, and does little beside knitting. The way she weakened her eyesight was this: When she was sixteen or seventeen, she wanted much to draw; and she copied nimini-pimini copper-plate engravings out of annuals, ('stippling,' don't the artists call it?) every little point put in, till at the end of six months she had produced an exquisitely faithful copy of the engraving. She wanted to learn to express her ideas by drawing. After she had tried to draw stories, and not succeeded, she took the better mode of writing; but in so small a hand, that it is almost impossible to decipher what she wrote at this time.

I asked her whether she had ever taken opium, as the description given of its effects in Villette was so exactly like what I had experienced, - vivid and exaggerated presence of objects, of which the outlines were indistinct, or lost in golden mist, etc. She replied, that she had never, to her knowledge, taken a grain of it in any shape, but that she had followed the process she always adopted when she had to describe anything which had not fallen within her own experience; she had thought intently on it for many and many a night before falling to sleep, - wondering what it was like, or how it would be, - till at length, sometimes after the progress of her story had been arrested at this one point for weeks, she wakened up in the morning with all clear before her, as if she had in reality gone through the experience, and then could describe it, word for word, as it had happened. I cannot account for this psychologically; I only am sure that it was so, because she said it. ----------------------She thought much of her duty, and had loftier and clearer notions of it than most people, and held fast to them with more success. It was done, it seems to me, with much more difficulty than people have of stronger nerves, and better fortunes. All her life was but labour and pain; and she never threw down the burden for the sake of present pleasure. I don't know what use you can make of all I have said. I have written it with the strong desire to obtain appreciation for her. Yet, what does it matter? She herself appealed to the world's judgement for her use of some of the faculties she had, - not the best, - but still the only ones she could turn to strangers' benefit. They heartily, greedily enjoyed the fruits of her labours, and then found out she was much to be blamed for possessing such faculties. Why ask for a judgement on her from such a world?" elizabeth gaskell/charlotte bronte



Poem: No coward soul is mine

No coward soul is mine,
No trembler in the worlds storm-troubled sphere:
I see Heavens glories shine,
And faith shines equal, arming me from fear.


O God within my breast.
Almighty, ever-present Deity!
Life -- that in me has rest,
As I -- Undying Life -- have power in Thee!


Vain are the thousand creeds
That move mens hearts: unutterably vain;
Worthless as withered weeds,
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main,


To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by Thine infinity;
So surely anchored on
The steadfast Rock of immortality.


With wide-embracing love
Thy Spirit animates eternal years,
Pervades and broods above,
Changes, sustains, dissolves, creates, and rears.


Though earth and man were gone,
And suns and universes ceased to be,
And Thou wert left alone,
Every existence would exist in Thee.


There is not room for Death,
Nor atom that his might could render void:
Thou -- Thou art Being and Breath,
And what Thou art may never be destroyed.


--
Emily Bronte

Family tree

The Bronte Family

Grandparents - paternal
Hugh Brunty was born 1755 and died circa 1808. He married Eleanor McClory, known as Alice in 1776.

Grandparents - maternal
Thomas Branwell (born 1746 died 5th April 1808) was married in 1768 to Anne Carne (baptised 27th April 1744 and died 19th December 1809).

Parents
Father was Patrick Bronte, the eldest of 10 children born to Hugh Brunty and Eleanor (Alice) McClory. He was born 17th March 1777 and died on 7th June 1861. Mother was Maria Branwell, who was born on 15th April 1783 and died on 15th September 1821.

Maria had a sister, Elizabeth who was known as Aunt Branwell. She was born in 1776 and died on 29th October 1842.

Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell on 29th December 1812.

The Bronte Children
Patrick and Maria Bronte had six children.
The first child was Maria, who was born in 1814 and died on 6th June 1825.
The second daughter, Elizabeth was born on 8th February 1815 and died shortly after Maria on 15th June 1825. Charlotte was the third daughter, born on 21st April 1816.

Charlotte married Arthur Bell Nicholls (born 1818) on 29th June 1854. Charlotte died on 31st March 1855. Arthur lived until 2nd December 1906.

The first and only son born to Patrick and Maria was Patrick Branwell, who was born on 26th June 1817 and died on 24th September 1848.

Emily Jane, the fourth daughter was born on 30th July 1818 and died on 19th December 1848.

The sixth and last child was Anne, born on 17th January 1820 who died on 28th May 1849.

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