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 24 november 2021

Second prize for best story from What3Words in connection with the Brontë Parsonage.


Dutch Maria van Mastrigt has won a nice prize. She tells about it on her Facebook page Facebook/ MariavanMastrigtt: My second prize for best story from What3Words in connection with the Brontë Parsonage just came in today from England...what a huge honor.

(Digital program What3words divided the whole world into ereas of 3m2, including the Bronte Parsonage. The entire building and the surrounding land therefore contains a number of those compartments. Each box has three words which are randomly chosen by What3words)

The words she chose to use

Vak 1: geology, venturing, carpets Vak 2: requisitoir, film, tungsten Vak 3: metals, identity, flinches

Prize winning story - Branwell’s Big Secret 

[Square 1] 16 Squares of the Brontë Parsonage in Haworth and a strange mixture of words!  I have never really studied the geology of the place, but as I’m wanting to fulfil this task, I thought it be wise to Google on the subject first before venturing any further into a world I’m not really familiar with. It turns out that the rocks of the hills behind my favourite place on earth are about 320 million years old. These rocks…and I quote: ‘were laid down in deltas on the edge of a large continent, with mountains to the north and south.’ There was a lot of quarrying going on in them there hills during those famous days and one might wonder if the sand-stone flags of the Parsonage originated from these quarries on Penistone Hill. According to Charlotte’s great friend Ellen Nussey, the floors were always ‘beautifully clean’ just like the rest of the house. As far as I know there were never any carpets about the place, certainly not in Brontë days, there were only a few handcrafted rugs. The largest of these rugs lay in the cellar, which may come as a surprise, but Branwell had claimed the cellar as a retreat after his disastrous episode at Thorpe Green. As we all know, or at least we think we know, he took to drugs and drinking and we all believe that he made life very difficult for the family when he was up in his bedroom making a right racket. However, I’ve learned recently, that his dad had agreed for him to make use of the cellar, which proved to be less noisy so the rest of the family would be less disturbed by his comings and goings. His sculptor friend Joseph Leyland had gifted him the large carpet, so that he would be suffering the cold a little less during the cold seasons. However, this rug, it would turn out, was not merely there to prevent Branwell from being too cold. 

[Square 4] I will now shock you all, by stating that Branwell was by no means the alcoholic and drug abuser we all believed he was! For so many years the true nature of Branwell’s behaviour has been brushed under the carpet (almost literally as we will find out) and famous biographers of the Brontë family did receive the request to keep schtum about it, if indeed they did know about the big secret at all. Fact is, it would have been even more of a disgrace to the family to reveal the truth about their brother, so it was decided that in every book, in every film or documentary about this famous family, Branwell would always be a drunkard and a junk. It was all one big cover up, even to the villagers who knew him when he was still alive. Branwell did indeed visit the Black Bull pub, often together with his friend Joseph and he did pay visits to the druggist’s shop across the road from the pub, but his staggering home late at night, was all one big act. What a lot of people don’t know is that underneath the top of Main Street are secret tunnels and cellars, some are still there, but others are now gone. The ones from the Black Bull and the druggist were connected and this is where Branwell and Joseph in conspiracy with the landlord and druggist were practising the art of alchemy. They were frauds, common criminals, they were one of the first people to make fake gold bars by using tungsten and merely a layer of real gold. The fake gold bars would be transported to the Parsonage by ‘drunk’ little Branwell himself and kept in a hole in the ground underneath the cellar floor, covered up by one of the flags and of course the carpet. The debt collectors who came to the door according to the biographers were not debt collectors at all, but tradespeople in on the act. 

[Square 16] How do I know all this, you may wonder? Well…on my last visit to Haworth, during one of those fabulous walks on the moors, I was having a little rest near the waterfalls, as one does. I was enjoying a sandwich and a cup of coffee from my flask when I saw this man walking around with a metal detector. We were the only two people there and after a little while he saw me too and he walked towards me. He was a friendly enough chap and we got talking. I asked him what kind of metals he had detected around the place and it was then when I first learned about Branwell’s big secret. This man, whose identity remains unknown to me, was the one who discovered the leftovers of the fake gold bars in the cellar some years ago, when he was on a mission to search for metal objects around the Parsonage, for which he had received permission by the curator. The discovery of the hole in the ground with the ‘gold’ and the entire administration kept by Branwell was of course never publicised, it remained a secret. Today I was once again in Haworth and I went to one of the coffee shops in the village for my morning coffee and a toasted teacake. Looking for a quiet place to sit, I suddenly spotted the man from the metal detector sitting at one of the tables in the far corner. I approached him to say hello, but the moment our eyes met I saw him turn away as if he did not want to see me. ‘He flinches’ I thought and I wondered what the reason was for this. Suddenly it dawned on me and instead of saying hello, I asked him: ‘none of what you told me that time near the waterfalls is true now, is it?’ For a few seconds he just stared at me and then he asked me this question: ‘Neither is very good I suppose, but what would you prefer? Branwell the sad, crazy and pining addict, or Branwell the cunning alchemist?’ He got up, left a tenner on the table and left the building. 

Maria van Mastrigt

PS The story is pure fiction of course, apart from the fact that there are indeed some large cellars underneath Main Street!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Photographes of Maggie GardinerIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 🎼…Haworth getting ready for the festive season ❤️ …Haworth getting ready for the festive season

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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