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

woensdag 30 september 2015

A visit to Banagher


I am very proud to announce to you a quest blogger, Anne Lloyd from Stay at home artist
Anne also made the photographs.

A visit to Banagher
By Anne Lloyd

Every Bronte enthusiast dreams of visiting Haworth.  I realized that dream when my husband and I traveled to the famous Yorkshire village in 2014. The idea to also visit Banagher then came to the fore. Especially when I found out Hill House, the Irish home Arthur Bell Nicholls shared with his  2nd wife, Mary Anna, Aunt Harriette Bell and his treasure trove of Bronte items for 45 years, was now a handsome B and B called Charlotte's Way.

You mean one can stay there?
In the very house?

Indeed


The lure was irresistible.

I'm an Arthur Bell Nicholls fan. It seems to me not just anyone could get a Bronte to the alter. I think it took a special person. It is singular that those who honor Charlotte Bronte,  the author who taught us not to discount a plain governess, often forget the lesson when it comes to the plain curate she chose for her husband. I think Charlotte's judgment can be trusted in this matter.

After Charlotte's tragic death in 1855,  Arthur looked after Haworth parish and his father in law, Patrick Bronte  until Patrick's own passing in 1861. Arthur was not rewarded the Haworth living. So he returned home to Banager and to his Aunt Harriette who had raised him.

Years before Harriette Bell had lived at Cuba Court, the site of the Royal School where her husband, Dr. Bell was headmaster. This large house was where Arthur and Charlotte stayed when they visited on their honeymoon in 1854.


In 1861 Aunt Bell resided at Hill House, near St Paul's church with her daughter, Arthur's cousin, Mary Anna. That is where Arthur joined them.


Indeed I did not know until I visited Banager that Hill House was once the parsonage to St. Paul's. So after Patrick Bronte's death, Arthur went from living in a Parsonage to another Parsonage and as a married man, Arthur always lived with an in-law.

Hill House, is now a B and B called Charlotte's Way. The name is in deference to its Bronte connection. The house is situated in the Irish midlands with the River Shannon near by. It could not be more in the middle of the emerald isle and as an American, it's almost a puzzle where to fly in. We choose Shannon because it is 30 miles closer to Banagher than Dublin.

At first I looked at buses to complete our journey,  train to the Banagher stopped long ago. But there was only one bus daily and it took four hours to arrive in  Banagher. In addition, one had to ask the driver especially to go on to Banagher, otherwise the bus would begin its return trip before reaching the town.

I couldn't see a four hour bus ride after a transatlantic flight, so we opted to hire a car and driver to met us at Shannon. It was a pleasure to sit back and watch the Irish country side roll by.  I have to say as we drew closer and the name " Banagher " began to appear on road sings, our excitement mounted. In an hour's time we were there.


It was awe inspiring. The house is beautiful and wonderfully kept. We were greeted  by Mr. John Daly, the owner's father as she, Nicola, was still at work. He showed us to the honeymoon suite. It was once Hill House 's attic and where Arthur stored many of his Bronte mementos. I imagine Arthur would visit here from time to time and here we were.


Today it has been beautifully made over into an inviting en suite with a jacuzzi tub! Its large skylight gives one a view over the Irish Midlands that goes on seemingly for miles. It was called the Hill House after all.


We soon met Nicola's mother, who kindly offered to make us coffee and toast! Later, we met Nicola herself. Her welcome could not have been warmer. Charlotte's Way is an excellent B and B, with all the professional points one expects and yet it is also a real Irish home. Remarkable.

We immediately became devotes of the ever glowing turf fire in the living room. B and B patrons are usually off elsewhere after breakfast. But we loved just sitting before the turf fire in the home where  Arthur lived with his memories for 45 years.



Nicola herself has a deep passion for the house, its history and for those who were there before. I saw photos of how the house was when she bought it 12 years ago. A ruinous shell. You would never know looking about today. It  seems original. Interestingly Nicola's mother was a housekeeper here years ago and Nicola played here as a child. So both would know better than most how the house was before the abject ruin.

When the house went up for sale, Nicola jumped at it. As you speak to her about the house, one gets a lesson in the Irish love of the land. These feelings are core. One has to know the young Irish clergyman Rev. Arthur Bell Nicholls, arriving in Haworth, was without " brass"  (money) or property back home. If he had it, he would be seeing to it rather than looking for a post in England.

It is also of note a few years after Arthur's  marriage to Mary Anna, Aunt Bell gave her son-in-law Hill House and its property. Arthur finally had something of his own to care for. Of course Aunt Bell's trust in Arthur was rewarded, just as Charlotte's and Patrick's trust was before. 

Haworth is Bronte country and Banagher is Bell country. No wonder Charlotte was enthusiastic about her " new relations ".  Among Aunt Bell's nine biological children were two doctors, two clergymen and one of the doctors was also a colonel in the British Army.  In Haworth it was thought Arthur was over stepping his place by seeking Charlotte in marriage. But in Banagher, Charlotte found herself  socially improved by being married to gentry!

The B and B Charlotte's Way would be very worthy of one's custom even without its historic  associations. Besides the charming house, comfortable rooms, and its beautiful setting, the B and B  advertises a "full Irish breakfast" Indeed. Nicola has her own chickens to supply the wonderful eggs  and our warmed plates also had delicious sausage and ham. Generous resupply of coffee,  toast and Nicola's own homemade soda bread are just for the asking ( and she does come  round to ask! ). Plus there is cereal,  yogurt and juice to enjoy as you wait while Nicola expertly cooks your eggs etc.


You won't leave the table hungry! The Irish believe in filling you up! lol. While eating in Banager itself, we asked for one portion of chips ( fries ) to share and were staggered at the mound brought to our table! Irish chips are wonderful btw. That's another thing they take serious, lol There are excellent pubs known for their music and food down the hill from the house, plus the marina on the river.


Of course visiting Arthur's grave was a major draw to us. He is at rest a short way at St. Paul's, Church of Ireland. The church is small but still very imposing with its beautiful tower and east facing window un the top of the hill. One cannot see Arthur and the Bell's graves from the road, a large tree blocks the view ( the plot is behind the church to the left if you stand at the iron gate ). We  learned St Paul's graveyard was open all the time! I had thought it was available only on Sunday. I had made sure our visit included Sunday for this propose. When we found out we could visit the graves anytime, we were out like a shot. It's a minute walk to St Paul.
 
It was astonishing to finally stand at Arthur's and Mary Anna's grave. Locals tell me the stones were much brighter 30 years ago. They are almost unreadable now. We visited the graveyard every day, just as we went to the Parsonage every day were were in Haworth. Why not? What a privilege to finally be in such places.


Married couples sharing a grave seems to have been a Bell family tradition. In the four graves above, Aunt Bell  ( 2nd grave from the left ) is a surrounded by her 3 clergymen sons, both biological and adopted, and their wives. Arthur and Mary Anna rest on the farthest grave on the right.
On Sunday, we also went to St Paul before noon to attend the weekly service. It got close to noon without a sign of life, but just before the hour stuck,  a car pulled in. It was a lay minster and his teenage children. I have to say they could not have been more gracious and welcoming. It interested  them why we Americans were there. We ran into that a good bit in the town ...friendly wonder over what brought us to Banagher. I don't think they see very many Yanks! We explained we were Bronte fans and were visiting Charlotte's husband's home and grave.


Inside the St. Paul's was like a time machine, it has lovely old style oak box pews and gorgeous stained windows. There is a beautiful marble tribute to Aunt Bell's third son, Arthur Bell, the army  colonel and doctor.  He died in India of cholera in 1869, leaving behind a wife and three children. The tribute was funded by his fellow officers. 


We know of the sadness in the Bronte history, but Aunt Bell had much grief to endure herself.  She outlived all her 6 sons and one of her three daughters.

After the service, I understood more the type of worship both Rev Bronte and Arthur Bell Nicholls presided over and the strong role of the  gospel in it . We brought flowers in town to lay at the graves. It was very special to finally come to Banager, to St Paul's,  to Arthur's grave and to Charlotte's Way.

 

1 opmerking:

  1. Thank you for hosting my post Geri! You made it look great.

    In the photo of the Church, one can see Charlotte's Way's roof and chimney just over the trees...that's how close they are.

    Thank you again!

    BeantwoordenVerwijderen

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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