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

donderdag 8 oktober 2009



Few English villages can have been as well documented and photographed as Hawortha place with more significant connotations than most of the others. A recent publication is the latest in a series which uses the old pictures next to the new ones to show how things have changed, and not always for the better. The title is Haworth Through Time, and it is by Steven Wood and photographer Ian Palmer.

Its brief introduction puts the causes of the many changes into a nutshell. It is explained, for example, that the first development of Main Street was brought about by the making of the Blue Bell turnpike through Haworth in 1755, and that the reason for the large number of non-conformist chapels in the Haworth area is because one of the charismatic leaders of the evangelical revival, William Grimshaw, was the local minister. The major nineteenth century expansions were caused by the opening of the branch railway from Keighley in 1867, which also made it necessary to alter the road system in the lower part of the village.

A point sometimes missed by students of the Brontës and by some scholars as well, is that Haworth was until well into the twentieth century a hectic, industrialised part of Yorkshire, and a generally unhealthy place for those people packed into small rooms where they lived, worked hard and died, apart from the folk up at the Parsonage. It was not at the far end of beyond. Many industries and the quarries have of course collapsed now, and at one time the railway itself was closed – until it was reopened by a preservation society.

Today, so many people have cars, and Haworth is a healthy and desirable place for commuters and families to put down roots.

Main Street is full of little shops and cafés geared to the tourist trade, and a good place to stroll along, even though it is not yet a pedestrian precinct, and cars can often be observed going unnecessarily fast along it.

The cars were a problem for Ian Palmer too – he had to put up with their obscuring of many views of course, and apparently had to dodge one or two while pointing his camera, and no doubt holding in one hand the old photograph so that the new one could be taken from the same vantage point. One surprising thing to note in the new colour images is the number of trees. They appear to have multiplied. For example, in a view entitled Haworth from Brow, the increase in the numbers of houses for mill workers dating from the late nineteenth century can be clearly seen, and they are now accompanied by large numbers of verdant trunks and branches. In the old photo, Ivy Bank Mill with a smoking chimney is visible on the left. The chimney has gone, of course, along with thousands of others across Yorkshire, mainly demolished in the 1960s, and the background landscape looks windswept and bare. Ivy Bank mill is now a burnt out ruin.

A view of Church Street and Changegate from the Church Tower taken at the time of the Great War shows huddled buildings (usually described as ‘slums’) and a lack of modern roads. These can be seen in the up-to-date view. An old photo dating from 1960 of Acton Street shows a row of houses now demolished where once lived Old Jack Kay, who was known as the village wise man. Did every village have one of these? Old Jack could foretell and even control the weather, so it was said, and defeat the evil created by witches. Not many people come into the old or the new photos, but an exception is Smithy in the Fold, c1900, in which four well-built men can be seen posing casually – blacksmiths Abraham Scarborough and his son Herbert, along with two other smiths. Their smithy is now a garage.

And the most photographed building in Haworth has to be there as well, naturally – a well-known sepia image of the Parsonage from about 186o is set above a present-day view with tall trees in the foreground.

There are more than 180 photographs in this book.

The Parlour

The Parlour



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).

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.

Top Withens in the snow.

Top Withens in the snow.



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