Dutch Maria van Mastrigt has won a nice prize. She tells about it on her Facebook page Facebook/ MariavanMastrigtt: My second prize for best story from What3Words in connection with the Brontë Parsonage just came in today from England...what a huge honor.
(Digital program What3words divided the whole world into ereas of 3m2, including the Bronte Parsonage. The entire building and the surrounding land therefore contains a number of those compartments. Each box has three words which are randomly chosen by What3words)
The words she chose to use
Vak 1: geology, venturing, carpets Vak 2: requisitoir, film, tungsten Vak 3: metals, identity, flinches
Prize winning story - Branwell’s Big Secret
[Square 1] 16 Squares of the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth and a strange mixture of words! I have never really studied the geology of the place, but as I’m wanting to fulfil this task, I thought it be wise to Google on the subject first before venturing any further into a world I’m not really familiar with. It turns out that the rocks of the hills behind my favourite place on earth are about 320 million years old. These rocks…and I quote: ‘were laid down in deltas on the edge of a large continent, with mountains to the north and south.’ There was a lot of quarrying going on in them there hills during those famous days and one might wonder if the sand-stone flags of the Parsonage originated from these quarries on Penistone Hill. According to Charlotte’s great friend Ellen Nussey, the floors were always ‘beautifully clean’ just like the rest of the house. As far as I know there were never any carpets about the place, certainly not in Brontë days, there were only a few handcrafted rugs. The largest of these rugs lay in the cellar, which may come as a surprise, but Branwell had claimed the cellar as a retreat after his disastrous episode at Thorpe Green. As we all know, or at least we think we know, he took to drugs and drinking and we all believe that he made life very difficult for the family when he was up in his bedroom making a right racket. However, I’ve learned recently, that his dad had agreed for him to make use of the cellar, which proved to be less noisy so the rest of the family would be less disturbed by his comings and goings. His sculptor friend Joseph Leyland had gifted him the large carpet, so that he would be suffering the cold a little less during the cold seasons. However, this rug, it would turn out, was not merely there to prevent Branwell from being too cold.
[Square 4] I will now shock you all, by stating that Branwell was by no means the alcoholic and drug abuser we all believed he was! For so many years the true nature of Branwell’s behaviour has been brushed under the carpet (almost literally as we will find out) and famous biographers of the Brontë family did receive the request to keep schtum about it, if indeed they did know about the big secret at all. Fact is, it would have been even more of a disgrace to the family to reveal the truth about their brother, so it was decided that in every book, in every film or documentary about this famous family, Branwell would always be a drunkard and a junk. It was all one big cover up, even to the villagers who knew him when he was still alive. Branwell did indeed visit the Black Bull pub, often together with his friend Joseph and he did pay visits to the druggist’s shop across the road from the pub, but his staggering home late at night, was all one big act. What a lot of people don’t know is that underneath the top of Main Street are secret tunnels and cellars, some are still there, but others are now gone. The ones from the Black Bull and the druggist were connected and this is where Branwell and Joseph in conspiracy with the landlord and druggist were practising the art of alchemy. They were frauds, common criminals, they were one of the first people to make fake gold bars by using tungsten and merely a layer of real gold. The fake gold bars would be transported to the Parsonage by ‘drunk’ little Branwell himself and kept in a hole in the ground underneath the cellar floor, covered up by one of the flags and of course the carpet. The debt collectors who came to the door according to the biographers were not debt collectors at all, but tradespeople in on the act.
[Square 16] How do I know all this, you may wonder? Well…on my last visit to Haworth, during one of those fabulous walks on the moors, I was having a little rest near the waterfalls, as one does. I was enjoying a sandwich and a cup of coffee from my flask when I saw this man walking around with a metal detector. We were the only two people there and after a little while he saw me too and he walked towards me. He was a friendly enough chap and we got talking. I asked him what kind of metals he had detected around the place and it was then when I first learned about Branwell’s big secret. This man, whose identity remains unknown to me, was the one who discovered the leftovers of the fake gold bars in the cellar some years ago, when he was on a mission to search for metal objects around the Parsonage, for which he had received permission by the curator. The discovery of the hole in the ground with the ‘gold’ and the entire administration kept by Branwell was of course never publicised, it remained a secret. Today I was once again in Haworth and I went to one of the coffee shops in the village for my morning coffee and a toasted teacake. Looking for a quiet place to sit, I suddenly spotted the man from the metal detector sitting at one of the tables in the far corner. I approached him to say hello, but the moment our eyes met I saw him turn away as if he did not want to see me. ‘He flinches’ I thought and I wondered what the reason was for this. Suddenly it dawned on me and instead of saying hello, I asked him: ‘none of what you told me that time near the waterfalls is true now, is it?’ For a few seconds he just stared at me and then he asked me this question: ‘Neither is very good I suppose, but what would you prefer? Branwell the sad, crazy and pining addict, or Branwell the cunning alchemist?’ He got up, left a tenner on the table and left the building.
Maria van Mastrigt
PS The story is pure fiction of course, apart from the fact that there are indeed some large cellars underneath Main Street!