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Visit Yorkshire and Explore Bronte Country

Aug 17, 2007
Irish Anglican clergyman Patrick Bronte married Maria Branwell in 1812. Together they had six children. The first two children died aged 10 and 11. Charlotte, Patrick, Emily and Anne survived into their early thirties. They were to become the most remarkable family of writers Yorkshire had ever produced.

Charlotte, Patrick, Emily and Anne were born in the village of Thornton, west of Bradford, where Patrick was parson. The parsonage still stands today and is lived in by writer Barbara Whitehead. She is lovingly restoring the house to its regency glory.

It was in Haworth however, that the Bronte's grew up and produced their writings.

Inspired by their writer parents and the bleak backdrop of the Yorkshire moors, the three girls wrote copiously from an early age. In 1847 the girls finally published their most famous novels. Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights and Anne's Agnes Grey, all became best sellers. Alas, the girls were destined to die young. Emily never completed another novel and died aged 30, followed by Anne aged 29 and finally Charlotte age 39, just a year after marriage.

Their father outlived them all and collaborated with their good friend Elizabeth Gaskell on Charlotte's biography.

Today you can visit Haworth and the parsonage where the Brontes once lived. The village itself is too pretty for words with cute little cottages, cobbled streets, Victorian shop fronts and olde worlde pubs. During the Christmas season there is a Victorian market on the main street and if your there at the right time, you will enjoy the carol singers. Morris dancers perform on the cobbled streets. The sound of their studded shoes hitting the cobbles and their clubs clashing together, provide exciting entertainment not normally associated with 'gentle' Morris dancing. This is real macho stuff (despite the outfits).

The Parsonage

You can visit the parsonage where the Brontes grew up. The rooms have been restored and the building is now a museum complete with library. The place provides plenty of atmosphere for the visitor to soak up. The rooms in which the family lived were tiny and dark and one can imagine a little scary at night when they would be lit by candlelight casting shadows and creating dark corners. This is in stark contrast to the brightness and space outside. The vast open skies and expanse of the moorland provided the birthplace of the gothic novel.

Top Withens

Emily Bronte wrote 'Wuthering Heights' in 1847. Her novel tells the story of doomed love and revenge. Top Withens has long been thought to have been the inspiration for her book. The ruined farmhouse stands on a hill overlooking the moors. Although the house itself bears little resemblance to the house described in her book, the situation may well have been in her mind when she wrote of the moorland setting of the heights. The place has become a popular attraction for Bronte and Kate Bush fans alike.

Bronte Waterfall

From the village of Haworth it is worth walking the two and a half miles to the falls which takes in some interesting reminders life in the 19th century, including some old coal mines. The waterfall was frequented by the Brontes and there is a rock formation in the shape of a chair named after them. Charlotte recorded a visit here during the winter of 1854 as, a perfect torrent racing over the rocks, white and beautiful!' The falls varies from a torrent to a trickle and is best viewed after heavy rain.

Bronte Chapel

The Bronte Chapel is inside St. Michael and All Angels Church, Haworth. The old church was originally built in 1655, pulled down in 1879 and restored in 1962. Here you will find the Bronte family vault wherein lies buried the Bronte family. The chapel houses a 17th century communion table and an inscription where the engraver has mistakenly left out the 'i' in Christ.

Patrick Bronte lived a long life dying at the grand old age of 84 in the parsonage. He collaborated with famous authoress Elizabeth Gaskell whose autobiography of Charlotte celebrates its centenary. There is also a much awaited film being released in 2007 depicting the life and times of the Bronte family.

For those with any interest in the Bronte's, a visit to the places that inspired their writing will be a rewarding experience.
About the Author
Ann Coveney is a freelance writer and part time school teacher. She can be hired to write articles on a wide range of topics. The web site she uses the most for low cost travel and hotel booking is http://www.AskVicki.co.uk
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