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

woensdag 30 augustus 2017

Photographs from Mark de Luca, inside the Bronte Birthplace Thornton.

Situated on Market Street in the village of Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford in the heart of West Yorkshire's Bronte Country is the Bronte Birthplace, where the Bronte Sisters (along with their brother Branwell) were born before moving to Haworth. Patrick and Maria Bronte moved in to the property with their infant child (Elizabeth, who was born in 1815 at their previous home in Hartshead), with Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne being born in 1816, 1817, 1818 and 1820 respectively. During this time Patrick was curate at the Old Bell Chapel in Thornton. In 1820 the family moved to the parsonage in Haworth  bronte-country/bronte-birthplace. Since then the Bronte Birthplace has undergone several changes of use.

In the late 1990s the property was purchased and lovingly restored by the crime novelist Barbara Whitehead, who (with the support of the Bronte Birthplace Trust) opened the property as a museum before having to sell up in 2007. The historical home had been rented as bedsits to tenants in search of cheap accommodation but the plaques commemorating the births of the four gifted children outside the faded front door were barely noticed.

Businessman Mark de Luca and his wife Michelle spotted the near-derelict property believing it to be an unpolished tourism gem. Acquired following repossession, the birthplace has been sympathetically renovated with the ground floor Market Street south facing rooms being converted to commercial use, now a well regarded and established coffee bar known as Emily's.

Beautiful photo's of the interior
The Birthplace again for sale
Now, thanks to photographs taken by Mark, we can see parts of the building normally out of bounds to the public, and he has kindly allowed me to reproduce some of them here. Comments on the photo's from Mark de Luca.

  1. Home and birthplace to what became one of the worlds most famous families - literary geniuses - The Brontë's. Here the family was complete and unite for 6 years, and Charlotte (1816), Patrick Branwell (1817), Emily (1818) and Anne (1820) were all born here in the former dining room (ground floor windows to the right of the entrance).
    (Note: Photo is a collage of what remains and gives the impression of what the original building would of looked like at the time of The Brontë Family. No original photo, to date, exists)
  2. There's no photo in existence, but this is what the property here in Thornton would of looked like when the Brontë Sisters were born here before the extension to the front in 1898.

An elevation of the building that gets overshadowed by the front - this is the external elevations of the former Scullery (ground floor) and the former Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom (first floor).

It would be a good assumption that the land levels to this area have changed as properties to the sides and rear have been constructed in years past, between 1830-1840 - you can picture the wilderness... Sarah and Nancy Garrs would of been exposed to in the winter months to the north facing section of the building, their workplace!

The view from the former
Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom

The view from the smallest window, in the smallest room of the house, the former Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom.

I'm sure as Sarah and Nancy would of laid down to rest as dawn came in, they would of been blessed with a very different view to what we now see - although 'Coffin End' is a beautiful, landmark property in Thornton.

Stone staircase

The stone staircase leading from the former Scullery to the former Servants and Nursemaids Bedroom, with independent access to the former Children's Bedroom.

No wonder these stairs are showing so much wear with four children under 5 in The Brontë's final year in Thornton - you can still just about hear the constant steps of Sarah and Nancy up and down these stairs!

The drawing room

  1. The fireplace in the former Drawing Room (ground floor windows to the left of the entrance). This fireplace is not original to the time of The Brontë's, although is of the period and as believed to be installed by author Barbara Whitehead, the proprietor at the time the birthplace was a small museum (1996-2006)
The dining room

  1. The fireplace in the dining room, the original fireplace in the room when the Brontë children were born.....that's Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne- this fireplace is now 215 years old, assuming it was the original to when the property was built in 1802!

Feature stonework header and corbel detail to now an internal doorway from the former Dining Room to what we are sure is an extension to the property to the far right.

Judging by the thickness of the wall and this stonework detailing, this was once the external wall and door - remember no properties either side of the property existed until 1830-40. In essence, this property stood completely alon...e; hard to visualise now as it stands central in a built up village.

Patrick and Maria's bedroom

  1. The fireplace in the Rev. Patrick and Maria's bedroom, the parents of Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne Brontë.....a prominent feature in this room. First floor windows to the right of the entrance).

Children's bedroom

  1. The fireplace in the Brontë children's bedroom.....with a vintage toy box for good measure!
  1. The floor to ceiling wardrobe in the former Children's Bedroom, and has been said to be original to the time of The Brontë's. You can just imagine the bed linen being stored here, and used frequently by the servants and nursemaids Sarah and Nancy Garrs.
    Their room and stair access to the ground floor former scullery via an independent stone staircase is just through the door to the right of the photo.

Featured within the former Children's Bedroom is the original timber floor. This has been exposed, repaired, and painted in a classical Old White shade. It's likely in the time of The Brontë's, that either a carpet or large rug would of featured in this room, with an element of the timber floor being exposed to the perimeter of the room.

  1. The original timber staircase and balustrade to the entrance corridor. The waterfall carpet was specially designed and made bespoke for the property when it was a museum between 1996 to 2007, and is a design of the period to when The Brontë Family lived here.

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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