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

zaterdag 9 februari 2013

Historic Redecoration

Yesterday, about two hundred (or was it more?) people crowded into the Old Schoolroom opposite the Parsonage to eat from a sumptuous buffet, drink wine and meet friends from the Brontë Society and interested members of the public. After brief speeches - from Sally McDonald, Chair of Brontë Society Council, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Terence Suthers and Professor Ann Sumner, the new Executive Director, the crowd split into groups to cross the narrow road and enter the Museum to see for themselves.

All of the refurbishments are historically accurate, the transformed Parsonage representing the culmination of two and a half years of painstaking analysis, using up-to-date forensic techniques. In summer, 2010, the University of Lincoln and historic design consultant Allyson McDermott were approached by the Parsonage to begin an analysis of the available evidence, with a view to coming up with a new, more historically accurate scheme of redecoration.

It was all there as we looked around, without some of the curtains, which will be coming soon to add the finishing touches.
To give a few examples, Mr Brontë's Study has been distempered in plain white, because no evidence could be found that it was ever papered, and the Dining Room now follows Charlotte's own decorative scheme from the early 1850s.

The curtains are still in the process of being specially woven, in crimson, to match Elizabeth Gaskell's description. According to forensic analysis, the room was papered both before and after Charlotte's 'gentrification', and the chosen paper is a contemporary design, in scarlet to match the curtains. Several years ago, a scrap of wallpaper was found in Branwell's Studio which can now be dated to the Brontë period. Allyson McDermott matched it with an almost identical sample - also contemporaneous with the Brontës' time - which was found inside a housemaid's cupboard at Kensington Palace. The wallpaper has been reproduced. bronte parsonage/historic-redecoration


A rare and important collection of six Charlotte Brontë letters is coming home to the Parsonage after the Brontë Society acquired them for £185,000 at Sotheby’s auction.
Previously in a private collection, the letters were written by Charlotte Brontë to her closest friend Ellen Nussey following their time as pupils at Miss Wooler’s school at Roe Head, near Mirfield from 1831.
The two corresponded regularly until Charlotte’s death in 1855 by which time Nussey had amassed a collection of upwards of 500 Brontë letters, many of which survived to support subsequent Brontë scholarship.
The first letter in the collection dates from October 18, 1832, shortly after their schooldays ended, and the final letter is written to Ellen’s sister on December 28 1854, just weeks before Charlotte’s death the following March.
Ellen Nussey lent around 350 of her letters (including the six acquired today) to Elizabeth Gaskell during her research for The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857). Mrs Gaskell quoted from them abundantly in the biography of her former friend, and they were also incorporated in a first-edition copy of her two-volume Brontë biography, close to the printed texts.
Ann Dinsdale, Collections Manager at the Parsonage, described them as “among the most significant Brontë letters to come to light in decades. They belong in Haworth,” she added, “and we are delighted that both scholars and members of the public will now have the opportunity to study and enjoy them, either here at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, or through our on-line resources.”
The society was able to acquire the letters thanks to support of £198,450 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the UK’s fund of last resort for saving the nation’s most important heritage at risk.
They will join a collection of correspondence and ephemera relating to Nussey already held at the Museum. For Brontë scholars, who will have access to the originals for the first time since Gaskell handled them, it will offer an invaluable opportunity to scan them closely and compare them to what are thought to be imperfect versions previously published.
The letters are now on display in Charlotte's Room, upstairs at the Parsonage. six-of-charlottes-letters-to-ellen-nussey-come-home

Knitting with the Brontes

In this month’s ‘Yarnwise’, I took a look at the knitting sticks in the collection of the Bronte Parsonage Museum, here in Yorkshire. And came to some interesting conclusions about the knitting sticks, and the Brontes’ experience of knitting. One conclusion I came to was that at least half of the sticks originated with Maria or Elizabeth Branwell (the sisters’ mother and aunt) in Cornwall.
The Museum were kind enough to give us permission to reproduce some absolutely iconic images, of the young Patrick Bronte and Maria Branwell, as well as great images of the knitting sticks themselves. Enjoy!

Coming up next month, a fascinating look into the knitters and hand-spinners from the 1790s-1830s in York’s “The Retreat for Persons Afflicted with Disorders of the Mind”, a trailblazing Quaker asylum. Patients indulged in some yarn therapy (as well as, in some cases, spectacular retail therapy). I went in search of their story, and tried to figure out just what on earth people were knitting around 1800!

It’s been a frantic month, locking down the text for ‘River Ganseys’ and completing the charts for the book as well as test knitting Dales gloves for a forthcoming Cooperative Press venture – so do look out for them, over the winter! The good news is, our wonderful test and sample knitters have reached the finishing line, with the ganseys for the book. I’m now busy knitting “something Victorian” for an article and pattern due out in the Spring. I realised the other day, apart from a hat for myself for this winter, and a couple of pairs of fingerless mitts for my teenagers, all my knitting for months on end has been 19thC reverse engineering! Blimey.
Photo by Belinda May, Dales Countryside Museum

Two of the sticks in the Bronte Parsonage’s collection, are similar to this one from the Dales Countryside Museum, in Hawes.
For more information about the Brontes and the Bronte Parsonage Museum, visit:

The newly-restored Bronte Parsonage Museum, which re-opens today.

Some of the highlights of the new look museum include six personal letters written by Charlotte Bronte, bought by the society for £246,000 last year, displayed for the first time. thetelegraphandargus

Rebecca Fraser and Jane Sellars

(l-r) Bronte scholar Rebecca Fraser, with Chairman of the Trustees of the Bronte Society Sally MacDonald and Professor Ann Sumner.

'The Art of the Brontes' author Jane Sellars. facebook 

New website

Most exciting news of the year as far as I'm concerned: our all-singing, all-dancing, beautiful new website goes live tomorrow on www.bronte.org.uk! From tomorrow you will be able to renew or take our membership, buy events tickets, purchase any one of hundreds of products in the shop, apply to research in the library, book for a group or educational visit - and keep fully up-to-date with all Museum events and news - all online. I'll be highlighting the best bits from the new site in the weeks to come. Look out for them. facebook./Bronte-Parsonage-Museum

vrijdag 8 februari 2013

Quite a lot of colour

"It's closer than it's ever looked to how it would have done in the Bronte period," said Bronte Parsonage Museum collections manager Ann Dinsdale.

"Charlotte put her stamp on the house, and there's quite a lot of colour."
Researchers from the University of Lincoln examined sections of the walls, and in some places found 18 layers of paint and wallpaper dating back to the sisters' habitation in the mid-19th Century.
"They came up with the strata, all the layers of paints that had been used over the years in the parsonage and they were able to work out which was the Bronte period," Mrs Dinsdale said.
"All the historic rooms, which are part of the original parsonage, have been completely redecorated." [...]
"I think people are possibly going to be quite surprised when they visit the parsonage," Mrs Dinsdale added.
"People have this image of [it] being quite austere with white and grey walls. Actually, it's very clear that they did experiment with colour."

Oh, we are so looking forward to seeing it! If you're in the area remember that the Museum opens tomorrow, February 9. From the Bronte blog

donderdag 7 februari 2013

On this day in 1857

The manuscript of the "Life of Charlotte Bronte" by Elizabeth Gaskell was completed.

woensdag 6 februari 2013

Catalogue of the Museum of Brontë Relics

Amos Ingham, Charlotte Brontë’s doctor

  •  Charlotte Brontë’s doctor, Amos Ingham, lived and worked in Ashmount Country House (01535 645 726,ashmounthaworth.co.uk), on Mytholmes Lane, a five-minute walk from the Parsonage. A Victorian villa with original stained-glass windows, commanding valley views. Bronte blog

Dr Ingham, built Ashmount House in 1870. He tended to Charlotte Brontë when she died in 1855 and her father, Patrick Brontë, six years later.

Dr Ingham was the Haworth surgeon from 1852, and the source of a story that Branwell accidentally set his bed alight after a drunken episode, resulting in him having to share his bed from then on with his father, the Reverend Patrick Brontë. Dr Ingham was in attendance at Charlotte's deathbed in 1855.

On the death of Patrick Brontë in 1861, the Brontë household was broken up, and Martha went with Arthur Bell Nicholls (Charlotte's widower) back to Northern Ireland. Whether this was just to help Mr. Nicholls settle in to his new home, or whether it was intended that she settle there as his housekeeper, we do not know, but by Christmas 1862, Martha was back in Haworth, living with her widowed mother at Sexton's house (John Brown had died of 'dust on his lungs' in 1855). Martha took domestic work in the village, including a stint with Dr. Amos Ingham (lately the Brontë family physician) at the Manor House in Cookgate. bronte.org.uk

Most of the furniture is antique and much of the original interior of the house is still intact including our beautiful stained glass windows. haworth-village/accommodation

dinsdag 5 februari 2013

Can't wait to show you!

We're on a countdown till Saturday February 9 now, and our grand reopening with the exciting historically accurate refurbishment, and a few surprises in store! If you think you know the Museum you'll be astonished and delighted. Can't wait to show you! facebook/Bronte-Parsonage-Museum

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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