“The idea of the trail was that it would highlight areas of the town that people don’t know so well,” says Deborah Wall of English Heritage. “And we wanted to give people a sense of what it would have been like when the Brontës were here.” Featuring 27 places of interest, it’s designed to take visitors a little off the beaten track and prove that there is more to the place than justJane Eyre.The Masonic Lodge at Haworth, known as the Three Graces, underwent something of a revival in the 1830s. Kenneth Emsley wrote (BST, v. 20, pt 5, 1992) that the lodge contained “a wide cross-section of members from the local community,” especially skilled artisans. Branwell was initiated, probably through the instigation of John Brown, while still under age, in February 1836. The society no doubt ministered to the love of secret organizations which is seen in the juvenilia and is part of the underbelly of Romanticism. Branwell was a regular attendant in 1836–7, thereafter an occasional one – one of many examples in his life of an early enthusiasm which exhausted itself. The fact that Branwell was willing to act for a time as secretary (probably one of few in Haworth capable of doing so) and that Patrick was willing to preach a special sermon for them, illustrates the loss of that revolutionary impulse in the movement that had attracted men such as Mozart. The Lodge met first in the Black Bull, then in the King’s Arms, and later had a permanent home in what is now Lodge Street, then known as Newell Hill. This tiny cul-de-sac was also home to the Haworth Mechanics’ Institute, and to William Wood, the Parsonage’s carpenter and cabinet-maker. blackwellreference
“The Brontës are just a part of Haworth,” says Christine Went, heritage and conservation officer with the Brontë Society. “And they saw their own history as much bigger than that. Haworth was an important part of the textile industry in the 19th century but when Elizabeth Gaskell wrote Charlotte Brontë’s biography she portrayed the sisters as living in an isolated place. Charlotte, for her own reasons, perpetuated that idea – I think she was trying to make excuses for the writing of the novels which had been poorly received by some.” (...)
The new trail and and booklet are part of a wider project to preserve and enhance Haworth for future generations. The conservation project has involved replacing frontages of shops and businesses in the village in keeping with the 19th-century heritage of the village, maintaining the cobbles, or setts, on the Main Street and installing new windows into the old Schoolhouse, which played such an important part in the Brontë siblings’ lives. It was built in 1832 as a Sunday school with funds from the National Society and from public subscriptions generated through the efforts of Patrick Brontë.
“Charlotte, Anne and Branwell would all have taught at the Sunday school – there is some doubt about whether Emily did because she had strong views of her own on religion,” says Christine.
“Every year the Brontës would hold a tea party for the Sunday school teachers at the Parsonage – most of the other teachers were mill girls.”
Another point of interest on the trail is the home of carpenter William Wood who made much of the furniture still in the Brontë Parsonage and was employed by Patrick to do odd jobs including painting and decorating. “He also made all the Brontës’ coffins,” says Christine. “And he made cases for Barraclough clocks – the Barraclough family lived in Haworth. There is a Barraclough clock in the Parsonage and Ellen Nussey, Charlotte’s great friend, wrote how, after the death of her siblings, Charlotte would sit alone in the parlour with just the sound of the clock ticking.”
Christine and Deborah both acknowledge that the legacy of the Brontës is one of the main attractions for visitors to Haworth but they hope the trail and booklet bring out other aspects. “Really we want to broaden people’s understanding of its history,” says Deborah. “Down to a certain point on Main Street not much has changed really – Charlotte could walk up the hill today and still recognise it.”
Haworth Village of the Brontës’ Trail Guide is free and available from Brontë Parsonage Museum, the Tourist Information Office and other shops in the village. bronteblog
William Wood, village carpenter and nephew of Tabby. carpenter+William+Wood+of+haworth