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 1 november 2014


Geographically, Bronte Country consists of the Pennine hills immediately to the west of, but also including, the Bradford / Leeds conurbation of West Yorkshire, as well as Kirklees and Calderdale. [N.B. Please click here for a geographical definition and map of the Bronte Country area.]
Unlike the pastural limestone valleys of the Yorkshire Dales which begin further to the north, the geology in Bronte Country is predominantly of Millstone Grit, a dark sandstone which lends the crags and scenery here an air of bleakness and desolation. Top Withens and many of the other Bronte associated locations lie within easy reach of the village of Haworth, where the Bronte family lived at the Haworth parsonage Other Bronte related attractions in the heart of Bronte Country include the Bronte Birthplace in Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford (where Charlotte, Patrick Branwell, Emily and Anne were born while their father was parson at Thornton church), Ponden Hall near Haworth ("Thrushcross Grange" in "Wuthering Heights") and Oakwell Hall and Red House in Kirklees ("Fieldhead" and "Briarmains" respectively in Charlotte Bronte's "Shirley"). Slightly further afield in what is known as the Pendle Witch Country of East Lancashire there is Wycoller (believed to be the location for Ferndean Manor in "Jane Eyre"), and Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley, where Charlotte Bronte was a regular visitor. Outside of Bronte Country but on edge of the Yorkshire Dales some forty or so miles to the north is the village of Cowan Bridge (near Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales) where the local school provided the inspiration for Lowood School in "Jane Eyre", while the country house at Norton Conyers (near Ripon in the Vale of York / Vale of Mowbray) is believed to be the setting for Thornfield Hall in the same novel. [N.B. Also in the Yorkshire Dales but closer nearby is the popular beauty spot of Bolton Abbey - which was visited by the Bronte family as a special excursion in 1833.] Further afield again Anne Bronte's grave can be found at St. Mary's Church in Scarborough - a popular resort on the Yorkshire Coast and near to the North York Moors to the east. [N.B. There are also Bronte connections with the English Lake District as Branwell Bronte held a tutoring job in Broughton in Furness and sketched the church during his stay there in 1840. Charlotte Bronte also stayed in the English Lake District some ten years later.] Back in the Bronte Country area itself, attractions which are not directly associated with the Brontes (but which are well worth a visit in their own right) include the industrial village of Saltaire in Bradford (built by Sir Titus Salt in the mid nineteenth century, and now a UNESCO designated World Heritage Centre), the National Media Museum in Bradford, the Keighley Bus Museum in Keighley, and the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (which runs from the village of Oxenhope through Haworth and Oakworth to the town of Keighley in the Aire Valley). The Bronte Country area has other literary and cultural associations: For instance the poet Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd near Hebden Bridge (his wife Sylvia Plath being buried in nearby Heptonstall), while the playwright J.B. Priestley, the composer Delius, the novelist John Braine and the artist David Hockney (like the Bronte sisters themselves) were all born within the district of the city of Bradford. The Pennine Way long distance footpath passes through Bronte Country, as does the Bronte Way, the Bradford Millennium Footpath and the Great Northern Railway Trail. As such the area is popular for walking and cycling in particular. bronte-country 

£100,000 grant for Haworth's Bronte Parsonage Museum celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Charlotte Bronte's birth

PLANS to celebrate 200 years since the birth of Charlotte Bronte have been given a major cash boost of nearly £100,000. The Brontë Society’s contemporary arts programme has been awarded a grant of £99,178 by the Arts Council of England. The grant will offer a much welcomed helping hand to the upcoming celebrations of Charlotte Brontë’s bicentenary year. As well as its museum role, Haworth's Brontë Parsonage is home to a contemporary arts programme which celebrates the radical nature of the Brontës and the ways in which they have inspired successive generations of artists and writers.
Read more: keighleynews

donderdag 30 oktober 2014

Hebden Bridge in the time of the Brontes


Steep hills with fast-flowing streams and access to major wool markets meant that Hebden Bridge was ideal for water-powered weaving mills and the town developed during the 19th and 20th centuries; at one time Hebden was known as "Trouser Town" because of the large amount of clothing manufacturing.[2] Drainage of the marshland, which covered much of the Upper Calder Valley before the Industrial Revolution, enabled construction of the road which runs through the valley. Before it was built, travel was only possible via the ancient packhorse route which ran along the hilltop, dropping into the valleys wherever necessary. The wool trade was served the Rochdale Canal (running from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester) and the Manchester and Leeds Railway (later the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) (running from Leeds to Manchester and Burnley).

The first Hebden Bridge Railway station opened in 1840, with a small booking office and separate waiting rooms for the first class ladies and gentlemen. hebdenbridge  hbstationfriends

Sutcliffe and George Sowden
Sutcliffe Sowden was a graduate of St Mary Magdalene College, Cambridge.  In 1839 he became curate of Cross Stone under the Revd Joseph Fennel. His appointment to Hebden Bridge two years later seems to have been due to a sermon that he preached at Cross Stone. Revd Sutcliffe Sowden was the intimate friend to the Revd Arthur Bell Nicholls, who was ordained along with Sutcliffes younger brother George at Ripon Minster in October 1846 A.B.Nicholls became curate of Howarth in 1845. Out of this friendship came Revd Sowdens aquaintance with the Bronte family. the-bronte-connection
Archdeacon Musgrave ensured that Sutcliffe's brother, George, suceeded him as vicar at Hebden Bridge. Whilst staying with his brother at Cross-Stone in 1840, George first saw the Brontë family. Here is an extract from his description of Patrick Brontë on that occasion: "... his quaint old fashioned look and his stupendous necktie: how it was constructed, I never could imagine." 

Unlike Sutcliffe, George did not know Charlotte personally before her marriage, but when invited to stay at Haworth in 1854, soon after Charlotte's marriage to Arthur Bell Nicholls, he got to know her quite well. In 1894 he described Charlotte as being "... a thoroughly ladylike woman, and very self-possessed..." and days that her conversation was quite 'unaffected'.
Coming downstairs to breakfast one morning at Haworth Parsonage, George found Charlotte "ascending the steps from the cellar... with a teacake in her hand, which she took into the kitchen to toast for our breakfast, perfectly unconcerned and natural, never dreaming of an apology for being caught in a domestic employment."
Yesterday morning the whole of Hebden Bridge and it's district was thrown into a state of great excitment and sorrow by the news spreading rapidly that their incumbent the Rev. S Sowden had met with his death by drowning. The sad news proved but to be true.His remains were removed to the Neptune Inn, and afterwards to his home.  The funeral obsequies were performed by Mr Sowdens most intimate friend,  the Rev. A. B. Nicholls of Howarth
Halifax antiquary Francis Leyland recorded that Charlotte Brontë, in the lonely days before her marriage, would sometimes walk, or occasionally drive, to Hangingroyd, Hebden Bridge, the residence of Sutcliffe Sowden.  visitcalderdale/brontelinks

The Lane Ends Burial Society responsible for building Old Town Clubhouses met at the Hare and Hounds and built the cottages in 1823. They were originally designed as weavers’ cottages, at a time when hand loom weaving was still a profitable trade, with a shared weaving room across the top floor, and connecting doors between the houses to enable workers to get access to the shared room. The census returns showed that most of the residents were engaged in worsted weaving until the trade began to fail later in the century. Many of the small cottages housed families of six or seven adults: impossible to imagine now. hebdenbridge
Photo's of Hebden Bridge
Blog of Hebden Bridge

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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