“Good land, but t' Corporation’s policy were to let it go back …we hadn’t to repair ony walls, it was just land fo' keepin' sheep”.
When George’s father took on the lease at first, the agreement was
“ Fifty sheep, at a rent the equivalent of £7.50 a year…we may have kept a few more, but restrictions were imposed because just after t' war there 'ad been gross overstocking by some local men”
“ for t’ Bronte fans…When I took t' tenancy of it, it were getting middlin’ dilapidated.... well it had got vandals in at it, and you can’t beat them. So I asked 'em what they wanted to do abat it…it was'nt safe, and I didn’t want to be responsible for onyone getting killed. They said they would take that property out of t’agreement, and they’d be responsible for that…but, well it’s more or less tummelled dahn now….and it 'ad bin a grand little place.”
He remembers a time 60 years ago, when Top Withens had a peat house, where the stock of winter fuel was kept and also remembers visiting the place lots of times when the last tenant, Ernest Roddy, a tall affable man lived there. Ernest had been gassed during the war, and fresh air was a necessity, so the authorities set him up at Top Withens where he was a poultry farmer, keeping hens. He had previously been a French polisher in Haworth, as well as a postman, and hawker of yeast, and every Tuesday he visited all the outlying farms selling his yeast because home bread-baking was the norm in those days. His yeast was sold for one penny an ounce and George remembered
“when he 'ad landed home after tramping miles over t'moorland, he wouldn’t be worth robbin'… He would be there for five or six years and left in 1926. He 'ad a pony and cart to go to and from Stanbury and Haworth, and kept a lot of white leghorn hens, and when he returned to Top Withens, an’ got in sight of it, those hens saw him coming and flew darn to meet him”
George married Hannah Whittaker, daughter of Whitley Whitaker in 1933, and they had four children, two sons and two daughters. bancroftsfromyorkshire/george-bancroft-farming-life
Originally known as "Top of th'Withens", Top Withens was probably built in the second half of the 16th century by George Bentley (or his relatives). At the time of the Brontës, it was inhabited by Jonas Sunderland and his wife Ann Crabtree (from 1811) and then their son, Jonas, with Mary Feather (from 1833). It was last inhabited by Ernest Roddy in 1926. locations/top-withens