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

dinsdag 31 december 2013

maandag 30 december 2013

George Whitehead's Journal

Read more on this blog. There are also beautiful photographes on this blog.
I'd spent the morning looking through an old book, picked up recently in the local Oxfam shop;
"Victorian Ouseburn - George Whitehead's Journal"
George must have been a plain-speaking chap - intent on recording facts as he found them, with little emotion or detail, he notes;
"Robinsons set off for Scarboro' Friday July 4th 1845."
"Robinsons came back from Scarboro' Friday Aug 8th 1845,"

"Miss Lydia Robinson made her exit with Henry Roxby (a play actor) Monday morning, Oct 20th. They went to Gretna Green and got married that night. She was a fortnight turned 20 years that day. A bad job 1845."

("Finished shearing beans and peas, Oct 20th 1845.")
Then the penny dropped and I remembered who the Robinsons were!
A clergyman's family living at Thorpe Green House, near Little Ouseburn, the Robinsons had employed Anne Bronte as a governess between 1840 and 1845, and also Branwell Bronte, as a tutor to their son, from 1843. George Whitehead's diary does not mention Anne the governess, nor her brother Branwell, though he records Robinson family trips to Scarborough which it is known that Anne enjoyed.
"Rev. E Robinson was interred, June 5th. There was about 60 Odd Fellows followed him. His Mrs and Misses Elizabeth and Mary and the young master followed him to the church 1846."
Rumour has it that Branwell hoped that the newly widowed Mrs Robinson would marry him, but this was not to be...
"Mrs Robinsons labouring men, 4 in number, namely John Abbey, Thos. Brigg, Richard Bowser Jr. and Geo. Kaye paid off Aug 1st.""Mrs Robinson's land let about July 25th 1846."
"Mrs Robinson's sale at Thorpe Green. Farming stock and implements. Feb 12th 1847"
"Mrs Robinson had a sale of oak wood at the Black Swan York March 2nd 1847"
"All Robinsons left Thorpe Green March 3rd. Mrs went among her relations that day and the young master and the young ladies were at Lodgings at York until March 10th and they went southward to their Mamma. It will be a bad job for many people them leaving Thorpe Green 1847."

 George was born in 1824 and lived in the village of Little Ouseburn in North Yorkshire.  He was a joiner, wheelwright and farmer.  He wrote up an account of his observations, both personal and also from newpapers as a series of journals from around 1840 to 1909.  His writings provide a fascinating insight into the day to day  life of the 19th century, including accounts of the movements and activities of people in his community.
George's Journals are available thanks to Helier Hibbs, who discovered the journals, edited them and then published the Jounals as a book in 1990.

The British Library has made scans of historic illustrated material available on its Flickr pages.

The British Library has made scans of historic illustrated material available on its Flickr pages. You can search the British Library Flickr collection.
Each image is accompanied with a full citation
You can find the Biritsh Library photostream by clicking here.
You can read Jonathan Jones's musings on digitisation on the Guardian website here.

Haworth Old Hall

Burried deep beneath Haworth Old Hall, leading off from the cellars of this 400 four hundred-year old Tudor manor house, are two elaborate tunnels each nearly a mile in length. Once used as an escape route, one of the tunnels connects directly to Haworth Parish Church.

During the 1600s, The Emmott family owned most of the property in Haworth including what is now known as Haworth Old Hall. The Emmotts were recusants (those who remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and did not attend Church of England services) who kept up the old faith in the church and protected the priest and people from persecution during penal times.
During times of religious persecution, the Emmott family would use the tunnels beneath the house to offer the nonconformist people of Haworth a safe passage of escape from the forces of the Church of England. The last of the Emmott line to remain at the manor house was General Emmott Rawdon, also known as Green-Emmott-Rawdon. The association of the family and the Old Hall continues to this day among the characters described by the Bronte sisters in their novels.
This fine example of an old hall house, also known as a communal dwelling house, court house or resting place, stands at the bottom of the Church Gate, no doubt on the site of the original manor house. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Haworth Old Hall as it now stands was erected as a collection of rooms that led off the main entrance hall, which itself was a most magnificent room with polished oak rafters.
By the 1870s the Old Hall had been divided into two cottages before being reconverted into one residence at the beginning of the 20th Century when the ancient hall became the dining area, revealing two magnificent stone fire places that had previously been hidden. hawortholdhall

bazzasoft/ Emmott Family

zondag 29 december 2013

On this day

On this day in 1812 Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell were married at Guiseley Church.

On this day in 1843 Charlotte Bronte received a Diploma from the Pensionnat at Brussels.


dinsdag 24 december 2013

Merry Christmas

“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” wrote British humorist Jerome K. Jerome as part of his introduction to an anthology of Christmas ghost stories titled “Told After Supper“ in 1891. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about specters.”
The practice of gathering around the fire on Christmas Eve to tell ghost stories was as much a part of Christmas for the Victorian English as Santa Claus is for us.

Christmas in Victorian Times

Before Victoria's reign started in 1837 nobody in Britain had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. No Christmas cards were sent and most people did not have holidays from work. The wealth and technologies generated by the industrial revolution of the Victorian era changed the face of Christmas forever.

The Gifts -At the start of Victoria's reign, children's toys tended to be handmade and hence expensive, generally restricting availability to those "rich folk" again. With factories however came mass production, which brought with it games, dolls, books and clockwork toys all at a more affordable price.

Turkey Time - Turkeys had been brought to Britain from America hundreds of years before Victorian times. When Victoria first came to the throne however, both chicken and turkey were too expensive for most people to enjoy. In northern England roast beef was the traditional fayre for Christmas dinner while in London and the south, goose was favourite. Many poor people made do with rabbit.

The Crackers - Invented by Tom Smith, a London sweet maker in 1846. The original idea was to wrap his sweets in a twist of fancy coloured paper, but this developed and sold much better when he added love notes (motto's), paper hats, small toys and made them go off BANG!

Carol Singers - Carol Singers and Musicians "The Waits" visited houses singing and playing the new popular carols;
1843 - O Come all ye Faithful
1848 - Once in Royal David's City
1851 - See Amid the Winters Snow
1868 - O Little Town of Bethlehem
1883 - Away in a Manger

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
Oh come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
come and behold him, born the King of angels;
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Sing, choirs of angels, sing in exultation,
sing, all ye citizens of heaven above;
glory to God, glory in the highest:
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given;
word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him,
O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
Author: Also known in Latin as "Adeste Fidelis," this Christmas carol is credited to an English hymnist named John Francis Wade (1711-1786). The said carol appeared in 1751 in his collection called Cantus Diversi. It also appeared on the Evening Offices of the Church in 1760. Later on, the carol was translated to English by Frederick Oakeley and William Thomas Brooke and was published on Murray's Hymnal in 1852. christmasnewyeararticles

zaterdag 21 december 2013

Brontë biopic project for 2016

News from the Clothworkers Films Brontë biopic project for 2016, written and directed by David Anthony Thomas. The Facebook and Twitter pages announce that the casting is underway. Anne Brontë will be played by Rachel Teate:
Anne Bronte will be played by @RachelTeate of CBBC and Disney Channel's Wolfblood @movieScope #Bronte #Movie #BAFTA http://t.co/ORwX6dwWqB

donderdag 19 december 2013

Today marks the 165th anniversary of the death of Emily Brontë.

Emily Brontë, by all accounts then and now, died of tuberculosis—the galloping consumption, as it was then called when its progress was rapid. (Letters, 216) And consumption, in the days before antibiotics, was invariably fatal. Many, many people in Victorian England died of it. Some might linger for years. Others were gone within months of the acute onset of the illness. By coddling herself, Emily might have extended her life by a few weeks, or even by months, but she would not have regained her health. Here lies one possible explanation for Emily's steadfast refusal to see the doctors. Doctors were powerless against consumption. Not one single successful course of medical treatment for that disease existed in Emily's day. What could the doctors have done for her? They might have suggested various forms of treatment, but the final result would have been the same.
The disease was so common that Emily Brontë very likely knew this. Her father certainly did. "Anne and I cherish hope as well as we can," Charlotte writes, "... but my father shakes his head and speaks of others of our family once similarly afflicted, for whom he likewise persisted in hoping against hope, and who are now removed where hope and fear fluctuate no more." (Brontës, 572-3)

Charlotte Brontë herself firmly believed that her sister had wanted to survive, regardless of brave words spoken in public about inexorable wills and no coward souls. "It was very terrible," she wrote to her friend Ellen concerning Emily's death. "She was torn conscious, panting, reluctant though resolute out of a happy life." (Letters, 229) In her grief, Charlotte could find only one consolation: that her sister no longer suffered.
... I will not now ask why Emily was torn from us in the fulness of our attachment, rooted up in the prime of her own days, in the promise of her powers – why her existence now lies like a field of green corn trodden down – like a tree in full bearing – struck at the root; I will only say, sweet is rest after labour and calm after tempest, and repeat again and again that Emily knows that now. (Letters, 219) claredunkle 
Emily Brontë’s funeral was attended only by family members and servants – and Emily’s beloved little dog, who sat in a church pew during the funeral service, and who would then sit and howl in front of Emily’s empty room for weeks after her death. today-in-literary-history-emily-bronte

No coward soul is mine 
             No trembler in the world's storm troubled sphere
I see Heaven's glories shine
And Faith shines equal arming me from Fear
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Vain are the thousand creeds
That move men's hearts, unutterably vain,
Worthless as withered weeds
Or idlest froth amid the boundless main

To waken doubt in one
Holding so fast by thy infinity
So surely anchored on
The steadfast rock of Immortality
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since Thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed. (Poems, 183-184)

dinsdag 17 december 2013

Joan Fontaine (1917-2013) Jane Eyre (1943)

Countless websites are reporting the death of Joan Fontaine (1917-2013) at 96. One of the key roles of her acting career was the title character in Jane Eyre 1944 as many of said websites recall.

Jane Eyre (1944) is an American film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name, released by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by William Goetz, Kenneth Macgowan, and Orson Welles (uncredited). The film stars Welles and Joan Fontaine. Elizabeth Taylor made an early, uncredited appearance.

120th Birthday Party


Members of staff in the Dining Room.
Left to right: Sue Newby, Sonia Boocock, Jan Lee, Fiona Grimshaw.
Minutes from the first Bronte Society meeting in 1893
For more photographes click on:facebook

Photos from the Red House Christmas event last weekend.

maandag 16 december 2013

120 years ago the Brontë Society was born

The Brontë Society is 120 years old today and though we can't thank those who first established it, we can and certainly would like to thank everyone who keeps it running today. Keeping the memory of the Brontë family alive as well as watching over their belongings and many other jobs is not as easy as one would suppose at first. The Telegraph and Argus has an article about the celebrations:

Bradford Town Hall: freshford/town_hall
Haworth will today be the hub of worldwide celebrations marking 120 years of the Bronte Society – believed to be the world’s oldest literary society.
Established on December 16, 1893, the group has members across the world, and celebrations are being held as far as Australia and Canada.
The society now runs the Bronte Parsonage Museum – the former home of the family and which is now one of the area’s top tourist attractions. The anniversary will be marked by a number of worldwide events in 2014.
The first meeting in 1893 took place in Bradford Town Hall and was attended by more than 50 people. Presided over by the Reverend W H Keeling, headmaster of Bradford Grammar School, the group resolved to establish a museum to contain family relics, art and literary works, as well as any historic pieces related to the family.

Read more background information: kleurrijkbrontesisters 
That resolution lead to the opening of the first Bronte museum at the former Yorkshire Penny Bank in Main Street, Haworth, in 1895.
When the Church of England put the family’s home up for sale in 1928, the museum was moved to where it remains to this day.
In the past year the Parsonage has undergone an extensive refurbishment, with experts painstakingly recreating the decor and features that would have filled the house when the sisters lived there.
In January, the ticket desk in the entrance hallway, will be moved to the rear shop area, allowing the hallway to be restored to its original state.

Sally McDonald, chairman of the Bronte Council, said: “Members of the Bronte Society are very proud to be celebrating their 120th anniversary this month and will be celebrating not only in Haworth but around the world.
“We see ourselves as having a unique role, being simultaneously a literary society and a charity that owns and runs a world-renowned museum. From the start members have come together to promote interest in the lives and works of the Brontes, but today activities are not limited to Haworth.
Photo:  Baroness Andrews, right, is joined during her visit to Bronte Parsonage Museum by, from left, Sally McDonald, chairman of the Bronte Society council, Christine Went, conservation officer, and Ann Dinsdale, collections manager
Ann Sumner, executive director of The Bronte Society, said: “We wish all our members a very happy 120th anniversary and hope that visitors to the Parsonage on the day will celebrate with us on this very special occasion.”
A full programme of events, including lectures and discussions all over the country will be announced at an event in London on February 19. (Chris Young) bronteblog

Photo: Ann Sumner


zondag 15 december 2013


Haworth Victorian Christmas

*1-4pm Santa's Grotto at Haworth Church
*5.15pm - Haworth's famous Torchlight Procession - starts at the Christmas Tree at the bottom of Main St. Parade up the street to the top singing carols. The Holly Queen & Princesses will be in attendance. Followed by Carol Service in Haworth Church. Lights on sale all day at £2 from Changegate Fisheries, Rose & Co., Firth's Boutique, Ye Sleeping House and the tombola stall at the top of Main St. Numbers are limited an...
d sold on a first-come-first-served basis. Songsheets are handed out at the start.
*Music & Entertainment throughout the day by Golcar Band, Mighty Four, Baccapella, Bradford Chorale, Pennine Chimes, Hebdon Band, Marsh Ladies Choir and Oakworth Morris Men.
*Santa Special trains
The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

Traders dressed in Victorian costume, craft fair at the Old School Rooms, independent boutiques for Christmas shopping, as well as traditional pubs and tea rooms to recharge your batteries. Come and join us!

A visit to the Parsonage Museum.... and the first photographes !!!!!

This article is from the weblog Helena Fairfax
Look to the beautiful photographes  of the new decorated Parsonage.
I am so happy Helena made these pictures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On this photographe I see  the removing of the portrait of Charlotte Bronte
Instead there is hanging an example of the Charlotte-Cory exposition
Last week I was lucky enough to attend a writers’ workshop at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth. The workshop was run by the Scots poet Jackie Kay. Jackie Kay is the writer in residence at the Parsonage (what a brilliant job that must be!)  She is also Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle Uni, an MBE for her services to literature, and the author of several volumes of prose and poetry.  So, writing, the moors, Haworth and the Brontës – I was quite excited about the day! 
Jackie Kay talked about her research as writer in residence, and the areas which had particularly interested her. One of these was the life of the Brontë sisters’ father, Patrick Brontë. Patrick was Irish, but spent most of his adult life in England. He went to Cambridge, which was a massive achievement for the largely self-taught son of an agricultural labourer, who had been destined by his family to become a blacksmith. Jackie Kay wondered what type of man he had been, to come from such a background and be father to one of the most creative families in literature.  He survived his wife and all six of his children.


Another of the Haworth characters that interested Jackie was Tabitha, the family’s maid.  Jackie believes Tabitha was herself a phenomenal story teller, and would regale the children with tales that were far beyond their years. She served with the family for 31 years, and was much loved.
One of the discoveries I most enjoyed finding out about was a poignant list of the household’s goods, which Jackie came across during her research. The household goods were put up for auction after Patrick Brontë died, and include such items as “Sundry Books 5 s/3p” ; “Warming Pan 5s / ” ;  “Hair Trunk 12s/ “; and (somehow I found this the saddest): “2 silk umbrellas 10s / 6p”.
Finally, the writing exercise Jackie set us involved choosing one of the rooms in the Parsonage, plus an object we’d seen there, and maybe one of the members of the household. We also had to write down four words that summed up our main impressions of the morning. Then we had five minutes to write what we wanted.  (I’m not really explaining this as well as Jackie Kay did, but I’m sure you get my drift!)

Helena Fairfax, Haworth, Brontës, Jackie Kay

Anyway, I decided to put a scene together involving Patrick Brontë reading to the children when they were young.  I’m also intrigued by Aunt Branwell, so she, too, appeared in my five minute writing.  Aunt Branwell was Patrick’s sister-in-law, and moved from Plymouth to Haworth to look after the family when her sister died.  According to Mrs Gaskell, Aunt Branwell ran the household with clockwork precision.  I wonder what she made of the sisters and their frenzies of creativity, and of their brother Branwell, who became addicted to alcohol and opium.

zaterdag 14 december 2013

On this day in 1847

Emily and Anne received six published copies of their novels, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey from their publishers. haworth-village


donderdag 12 december 2013

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre quiz

The Brontë Sisters and Their Work in Ankara

A Conference scheduled for today, December 12 completely devoted to the Brontës. In Ankara, Turkey:
12-13 December 2013 at Middle East Technical University
Ankara, Turkey
METU 2013: The Brontë Sisters and Their Work

is the theme for this year’s METU British Novelists Conference organized by the Department of Foreign Language Education in Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. The conference will explore various aspects of the work of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë. There will also be papers approaching the work of the Brontë Sisters from the perspective of media and adaptation studies. Selected papers will be published in the conference proceedings.
Programme: Read The Brontë Sisters and Their Work in Ankara

woensdag 11 december 2013

December/Christmas 1893

The Yorkshire Post looks back on December/Christmas 1893. Among other things, this is what was happening:
December did bring some lighter news. On the 23rd, the Yorkshire Post reported that a Brontë Society had been formed following a meeting at Bradford Town Hall.
The Rev UH Keeling, headmaster of Bradford Grammar School, presided over the meeting, which had been called by the city’s mayor.  It was convened amid concerns that 38 years after Charlotte Brontë’s death, artefacts relating to both her and her sisters would end up being scattered away from Yorkshire. “The Brontës,” the chairman said, “represented and embodied the true Yorkshire spirit, though they themselves were not a Yorkshire family.” He praised their writing talent, adding: “In a word, they formed the strongest link between their county and the great world of literature.” (Chris Bond)

As we open Jane Eyre once more we cannot stifle the suspicion that we shall find her world of imagination as antiquated, mid-Victorian, and out of date as the parsonage on the moor, a place only to be visited by the curious, only preserved by the pious. So we open Jane Eyre; and in two pages every doubt is swept clean from our minds.

As Virgina Woolf wrote in 1916
Thank you Anne for sending

dinsdag 10 december 2013

Charlotte Brontë had found a way to mesmerise the reader through an intensely private communion with her audience.

The Guardian/The Observer has picked Jane Eyre as number 12 of the 100 best novels.
"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."
From its haunting first line to its famous closer, "Reader, I married him", Charlotte Brontë takes her audience by the throat with a fierce narrative of great immediacy. Jane Eyre's voice on the page is almost hypnotic. The reader can hardly resist turning the next page, and the next…
In an extraordinary breakthrough for the English novel, borrowing the intimacy of the 18th-century epistolary tradition, Charlotte Brontë had found a way to mesmerise the reader through an intensely private communion with her audience. We, the author, and Jane Eyre become one. For this, she can be claimed as the forerunner of the novel of interior consciousness. Add to this a prose style of unvarnished simplicity and you have the Victorian novel that cast a spell over its generation. Even today, many readers will never forget the moment they first entered the strange, bleak world of this remarkable book.

The magic of Jane Eyre begins with Charlotte Brontë herself. She began to write her second novel
(The Professor had just been rejected) in August 1846. A year later it was done, much of it composed in a white heat. The reading public was spellbound. Thackeray's daughter says that the novel (which was dedicated to her father) "set all London talking, reading, speculating". She herself reports that she was "carried away by an undreamed-of and hitherto unimagined whirlwind".
There are three principal elements to Brontë's magic. First, the novel is cast, from the title page, as "an autobiography". This is a convention derived from Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (No 2 in this series). But the adventure offered by the author is an interior one. Jane Eyre portrays the urgent quest of its narrator for an identity. Jane, who cannot remember her parents, and as an orphan has no secure place in the world, is in search of her "self" as a young, downtrodden woman. (Robert McCrum) (Read more) bronteblog

maandag 9 december 2013

Queen Victoria's Book of Spells and more about gaslight in Victorian times.

I always love it very much when I have a reaction.  Roses and Vellum tells me:

Gaslamps are so beautiful. It is funny to think something so beautiful and nostalgic to us now was strange and futuristic back then. I have been reading recently, and there was a story (Smithfield by James P Blaylock) about the lighting of the gaslamps for the first time, it was quite fascinating to think about.

Thank you for your reaction. Yes, It is fascinating to think about the days that gaslight was new.  Your reaction also made me curious. I never heard about Queen Victoria's Book of Spells. So I was searching for it.  I found this nice weblog:  suzanne-johnson/drive-by-review-and-cntest-queen
ABOUT QUEEN VICTORIA’S BOOK OF SPELLS: “Gaslamp Fantasy,” or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. A number of wonderful fantasy novels, including Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, owe their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers ranging from Jane Austen, the Brontës, and George Meredith to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and William Morris. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature inspired by this period….Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves these works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, mainstream, and young adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents such as Elizabeth Bear, James Blaylock, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Kushner, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire, Delia Sherman, and Catherynne M. Valente, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century invested (or cursed!) with magic.
Wow, there really is a lot to read, I never heard from before.
On another website I found more about gaslight buildingconservation/lighting
At the start of the Victorian period most houses were lit by candles and oil lamps. Interior fittings included chandeliers (suspended from the ceiling) and sconces (fixed to the wall). However these were mainly used on special occasions, and most ordinary events after sunset took place using portable light sources such as candlesticks, candelabra (bracketed candlesticks) and oil lamps, and by the light of the fire. By the end of the period gas lighting was common in urban homes and electricity was being introduced in many. Gas lighting of buildings and streets began early in the 19th century, with most streets in London lit by gas as early as 1816. But for the first 50 years it was generally distrusted and few homes were lit. After gas fittings were introduced in the new Houses of Parliament in 1859 the tide turned. Fasionable town houses constructed in the 1860s often had a central pendant gas light (that is to say a gas light attached to the ceiling) in each of the principal rooms with a ventilation grille above, cunningly disguised in the deep recesses of the ceiling rose. Gas 'wall brackets' were used in place of the sconce, and some staircases were lit by newel lights attached to the newel post. The largest pendant fittings had several burners and were known as gasoliers.

Late 19th century paraffin lamp and gas wall brackets in the entrance hall of the Linley Sambourne House, London. (Victorian Society, Linley Sambourne House, London/Bridgeman Art Library)

Before the advent of the incandescent mantle, gas lighting relied on a simple open flame. By the mid 19th century the most common burners produced fan-shaped flames like the Batswing and Fish Tail burners. The Argand burner, which was successfully adapted for gas, was the principal exception with its circular flame.

All these gas light fittings and the early incandescent mantles had to point upwards directing the light towards the ceiling and away from where the light was needed most, and it was not until 1897 that the gas mantle was adapted to burn downwards - a useful event to remember when dating gas fittings.

Simple gas lights incorporated a plain brass, copper or iron gas supply tube with a tap for switching the gas on and off, terminating in a burner shielded from direct view by a shade or globe to diffuse the light. Some burners such as the Argand also incorporated a glass tube or chimney, and around which could be placed a larger shade of glass or silk. Pendant lights could consist of little more than a vertical rod turned at right angles at the end to support the up-turned burner, but they were rarely that simple in the Victorian period. Every element of the gas light offered an opportunity for embellishment. Early pendant fittings often incorporated two or more arms forming a loop, gracefully curving down around the glass lamp shade, with the lamp cradled below. In another design scrolling arms radiated from a central baluster, a design echoed by the scrolling arms of the wall brackets.

The shades provided another opportunity for embellishment. Most glass shades were translucent, either frosted or coloured and were often extremely ornate, with cut glass decoration or etched patterns. The most elaborate shapes appeared at the end of the 19th century when designs reached their most opulent in the Louis XV revival. As well as ornate silk shades on lamps with chimneys, a variety of other more delicate devices were introduced at different times, such as shades of glass beads.

By 1890 main stream taste had begun to change dramatically. Although William Morris, the father of the Arts and Crafts Movement, had established Morris and Co almost 40 years earlier, it was the second generation of craftsmen who started to manufacture products on a larger scale, often adopting the industrial processes reviled by Morris. One of the greatest and most prolific designers of the new style was W A S Benson who, with the encouragement of William Morris, had set up his own workshop making light fittings and other metalwork. His fittings, like those of many of his contemporaries, were mass-produced, selling through Liberty's in London in particular.

The Arts and Crafts style swept out the clutter from the Victorian interior, leaving them lighter and brighter in every sense. Richly decorated surfaces were replaced by plain ones relying on the warmth of natural materials
and simple craftsmanship for their interest. Those elements like the fireplaces and light fittings which remained as richly ornamented as ever before took on a new importance, focussing attention. Often the decoration of fittings can be described as 'Art Nouveau' for their graceful, flowing lines and lack of any clear historical influence, but revivalism remained common, and most homes at the turn of the 19th century borrowed heavily from the Tudor and Elizabethan periods in particular.

That the streets of Haworth be lighted with gas

"Carried unanimously, that the streets of Haworth be lighted with gas and the number of lamps do not exceed 10 this winter. Also that the Clerk gets the estimates for the erection of those lamps as soon as possible that the streets may be lighted without delay."
Extract from Haworth Local Board of Health Minute Book

By 1823, numerous towns and cities throughout Britain were lit by gas. Gaslight cost up to 75% less than oil lamps or candles, which helped to accelerate its development and deployment. By 1859, gas lighting was to be found all over Britain and about a thousand gas works had sprung up to meet the demand for the new fuel. The brighter lighting which gas provided allowed people to read more easily and for longer. This helped to stimulate literacy and learning, speeding up the second Industrial Revolution. wiki/Gas_lighting

Gaslight fixtures were ornate and decorative whether they were used outdoors or indoors. Echoing the design themes of the times, they integrated well into contemporary architecture. Strangely enough, even while the incandescent lamp was gaining ground, new developments in the gaslight continued.

zondag 8 december 2013

Christmas in Haworth

Haworth in Christmas
Keighley News gives some details about the Victorian Christmas Weekends in Haworth:
The clock is being turned back in Haworth as the village stages its annual Victorian Christmas Weekend.
Traders are donning period costume and a host of festive activities is taking place today and tomorrow.
Bands and choirs are among the attractions in Main Street.
And the Brontë Parsonage Museum is holding events, including a puppet theatre and carol singing. (Alistair Shand)

The Telegraph & Argus adds:
Next Sunday, as the sun sets, the famous Torchlight Procession begins in Haworth, when the band strikes up and the carollers begin the procession slowly up the Main Street, at 4.45pm. Also at the Brontë Parsonage next Saturday and Sunday is a Decoration and Stories weekend offering a chance to join the wreath making workshops, tuck into mince pies and mulled wine, and make some Christmas decorations at the drop in session from 10.30am to 1pm (booking essential) at Brontë Parsonage. (Sue Ward)The Haworth Victorian Christmas Facebook wall provides complete information and lots of pictures of the events taking place this month. bronteblog/haworth-in-christmas

vrijdag 6 december 2013

Dorothy Wordsworth: on a “dull, drizzly, Indian-inky day”.

The New Statesman lists the A-Z of northern fiction:
From the bonny beck to the kitchen sink and Heathcliff to the angry young men, Frances Wilson explores the personality of writing from the north of England, while Philip Maughan asks how the land lies today. (...)
I identify the north of my childhood reading with the heritage north catered for by the refurbished Brontë Parsonage Museum at Haworth and the dinky reconstruction of Wordsworth’s cottage in Grasmere. (...)
“We had the temerity to think we could write,” said Barstow, “but [with] no teachers and no models.” Heathcliff and Rochester had morphed into the daydreaming William Fisher in Waterhouse’s Billy Liar (1959), the upwardly mobile Joe Lampton in Braine’s Room at the Top (1957), Vic Brown in Barstow’s A Kind of Loving (1960) and the angry young Frank Machin, who leaves the pit to play league rugby in David Storey’s This Sporting Life(1960). (...)
Both Gaskell and Dickens set their stories in Manchester, which Dickens called Coketown and Gaskell called Milton. While Dickens wrote from the position of a Londoner, Mrs Gaskell, who now lived in the great Cottonopolis, understood, as Charlotte Brontë said, “the genius of the north”. (...)
Elizabeth Gaskell’s Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), written as a homage to her friend after her death, fuelled the myth of the elemental northern writer. The book begins in wailing wind, with a description of the Leeds and Bradford railway running through “a deep valley of the Aire”; Gaskell arrives in Haworth on a “dull, drizzly, Indian-inky day”.
The Brontë family is described as carved out of the landscape – as Ted Hughes, raised on the Pennine moorland would also seem – and Charlotte’s story is told as though she were a character from one of her novels. Yet the Brontës had already constructed their own mythology.
In a letter to Wordsworth, Branwell Brontë had said that he, like the poet, lived in “wild
seclusion”, with only rocks and stones and trees for company. Haworth Parsonage was on the edge of the moor but it was not secluded; there was a village attached. Four miles away was Keighley, which, as Gaskell points out, with its “great worsted factories” and “rows of workmen’s houses”, could “hardly be called ‘country’”.
The Brontës’ model of the Romantic life came from the biographical sketches of Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy by Thomas De Quincey, a Mancunian – a scandalous series of articles written for Blackwood’s Magazine in 1837. Today, Wordsworth is largely presented as the asexual spokesman of leech-gatherers and idiot boys but De Quincey described the poet, who was bourgeois to his marrow, as barely civilised and semi-incestuous. With his teeth bared and his eyes flashing, Wordsworth was fuelled by “animal appetites”. Dorothy, who her brother would kiss on the mouth, was also “beyond any person I have known in this world . . . the creature of impulse”.
Emily Brontë, who read Blackwood’s Magazine, surely based her tale of barely civilised and semi-incestuous siblings on this account of the Wordsworths. When I read Wuthering Heights, I am reminded of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere journals, in which she describes the two and half years that she lived alone with her brother in Dove Cottage, before he married and was transformed from a wild, Heathcliff- like figure to a gentleman resembling the priggish Edgar Linton. The nature of Dorothy’s love for William, which is hard for us to understand, is replicated in Cathy’s well-known des cription of her love for Heathcliff. Less a pleasure than a necessity, it is like “the eternal rocks beneath”. (Frances Wilson) bronteblog

Dorothy Wordsworth Grasmere journals.

The delight of Dorothy's Grasmere journals, consigned to four notebooks between May 14, 1800, and January 16, 1803, is summed up in such passages as these.
The scenery she is observing is extraordinary enough; in this case, Nab Scar, between Grasmere and Ryedale in the Lakes. But the people she is observing it with are more extraordinary still: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, scrambling over the rocks and disputing about shade and sunlight, while in their minds lie the embryos of some of the deepest thought and finest poetry in English.
Infuriating, because Dorothy seems such a drudge, ironing, washing, planting, mending and baking, despite the headaches and bad bowels that send her early to bed; a woman who can translate German and snatches moments to read Shakespeare, who can catch the poetry in a scene before William, but whose life is bound up in cooking chops for him and soothing his hypochondria.
And disturbing, because her devotion to him goes further than a sister's usually does. How much further? That is the nub of Frances Wilson's sympathetic but intrusive study. Her account homes in on the three hectic, intense years covered by the journals, when Dorothy was at once her brother's servant, amanuensis, companion, eyes and ears. Within the journals Wilson's focus rests on two deleted sentences, describing what happened on the morning before William married Mary Hutchinson in October 1802: "I gave him the wedding ring - with how deep a blessing! I took it from my forefinger where I had worn it the whole of the night before - he slipped it again onto my finger and blessed me fervently." Those last few words might have read, "as I blessed the ring softly". As Frances Wilson says, the fervour is the same. Her book begins, and virtually ends, with this scene.
Other journal entries draw attention, too: Dorothy's admission that she "petted" William "on the carpet", her emotion when she sees his half-eaten apple core, her descriptions of his breathing, his shirts and his "cool & fresh" smell. Analysis of the relationship, with commentary from Freud and Camille Paglia, so dominates the book that poor Dorothy cannot admire the moon or the hawthorn blossom, or comment on the light or the rain, without revealing something about William and herself.
Walk-worn boots, mud-caked skirt and all, she is laid firmly on the couch.
Yet, thankfully, this is also a book informed by delicacy and common sense: the central chapter on incest is probably the best. Wilson's conclusion is that William and Dorothy were "finding and losing themselves in each other", in a devotion that was not sexual and which, in fact, survived William's marriage largely intact. It lasted through to Dorothy's half-mad old age, when her brother began, at last, to wait on her. telegraph/Dorothy-Wordsworth

donderdag 5 december 2013

On this day in 1809

Patrick Bronte began his curacy at Dewsbury
What brought Patrick Brontë to Dewsbury in the first place? Amateur local historian Graham Hardy explains that back in 1809 it seems that he was facing a choice between working in the West Riding or the much warmer climes of the West Indies. Perhaps surprisingly, Patrick chose Dewsbury! Why he made that decision to come here we'll perhaps never really know, but Graham believes it could be because Patrick and others believed it was fertile ground for 'spreading the word' of the Gospel: "They regarded Yorkshire - which was just going through the throes of the Industrial Revolution at that time - as The Promised Land, the land where they were going to save souls."

It wasn't long before Patrick Brontë made his mark on Dewsbury, according to Graham. He says there are many tales told about this young curate who certainly lived up to his reputation as "clever and good-hearted, but impetuous and hot-tempered" - as one Dewsbury lawyer described him at the time. Graham says: "There was the occasion when a drunk tried to stop a Sunday School procession and Patrick Brontë unceremoniously threw the drunk into the ditch at the side of the road. There was also another occasion when Patrick was doing his Sunday evening meditation in the old vicarage by the side of the Minster and the church bell ringers decided to have an extra practice. Patrick was so upset about this that he seized his shillelagh [a large stick], dashed up to the belfry and actually drove them out!" And Denis Ripley adds that as well as saving souls, Patrick also saved someone's life: "He was walking along the River Calder and he met a group who were acting silly. One boy pushed another into the river. Now, in spite of the fact that he couldn't swim, he jumped in and saved the boy. It was quite a famous incident."
"It was as a result of him coming here that the Yorkshire connection was launched and became famous worldwide!"
Denis Ripley on Patrick's legacy
Patrick Brontë was clearly no shrinking violet, but he was also - even in his early days in Dewsbury - a man of influence who wanted to right any wrongs which took place in the town. Graham explains: "There was a young man called William Nowell who was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. It was claimed by another young man that William had enlisted in the army at Lee Fair - a gathering just outside Dewsbury. William denied this...but he was hauled before the magistrates and flung into prison as a deserter. Patrick was very upset about this so he got together some of the prominent members of the town, credible witnesses, and he wrote to Lord Palmerston, who was Secretary of State for War but who Patrick had known at Cambridge. Palmerston intervened, as well as [social reformer and anti-slave trade supporter] William Wilberforce. Between them the case was reviewed, William Nowell was freed and the chap who'd given the false evidence was transported to the colonies!"
Graham Hardy says that as curate, Patrick Brontë was also well-known for travelling to all corners of his Dewsbury parish in an effort to spread the word on people's doorsteps: "He used to go around to people's houses and he used to preach there. In those days, of course, most churches in the outlying districts like Hanging Heaton, Dewsbury Moor and Batley Carr hadn't even been built. The Dewsbury parish was quite big so there were often important meetings held in people's houses."
It's obvious, then, that Patrick Brontë was an important figure in his own right - never mind the fact that his time in Dewsbury firmly established the roots of the Brontë family in West Yorkshire.

X-mas in Yorkshire

Victorian Christmas Weekend at Main Street, Haworth: Every year at Christmas time, Haworth is lit by twinkling fairy lights and festive shop windows. Each weekend in December the village hosts bands, choirs, carol singers and Father Christmas for visitors to enjoy with traders dressing in Victorian costume. The cobbled street is home to wonderful independant shops, tea rooms and public houses. yorkshire/christmas-markets

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway - Join the Santa Special at Oxenhope, Haworth or Keighley Stations for a ten-mile return journey on our steam train, lasting around an hour. Experience nostalgia and the magic of Christmas in our specially decorated coaches, with festive music to get you into the mood. Santa and his pixies visit each child during the journey, delivering presents and the grown-ups are served with a mince pie and seasonal drink: the perfect way for you and your family to start the Christmas season.


The Apothecary Shop window on Haworth Main Street


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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