A literary nerd’s weekend in Haworth
It’s a never ending source of amazement to me, that there is so much to see and do on our own doorsteps here in the UK. Since rejoining the workforce after my career break, Mr A and I have being trying to get out and about more on short breaks to see what we’ve been missing.
The great thing about having a break in the UK is that we can fit them into a weekend, leaving after work on a Friday and returning on Sunday. Even though it’s only two nights away from home, the fact that we’re free from the daily humdrum of chores really makes it feel like we’ve had a proper rest.
A few weeks ago Mr A and I went up to Haworth in West Yorkshire so that he could take a photography course I’d bought him for Christmas. While he was out tramping across the moors for that, I had the whole day to explore the village.
For a literary geek like me, this was heaven, as Haworth was home to the three Bronte sisters and is the place where they wrote their world famous novels including Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey.
Charlotte, Emily and Anne were the cool girls of their time. They scandalised some members of society by writing about unladylike subjects such as passionate love and feminism and even had to get their books published under men’s names in the beginning.
Their former home, now known as the Bronte Parsonage Museum, is run by the Brontë Society, one of the oldest literary societies in the world, which was founded in 1893. Visiting it amazing. The house was actually lived in by other people after their father’s death, but it has now been restored as closely as possible to what it would have looked like when the sisters lived there and many of their original pieces of furniture have been replaced.
(No photography is allowed in the house, so I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with my explanations.)
There are four rooms downstairs and I loved imagining Charlotte sitting in front of the fire in the kitchen writing and the three girls striding around the family’s dining table, reading each other their work at the end of each day.
But my favourite rooms were upstairs in the house, where the former bedrooms were filled with display cabinets featuring many of the family’s personal possessions, including the tiny palm-sized notebooks the sisters filled with writing which you needed a magnifying glass to read. There was something so special about seeing their often very personal notes and it actually gave me goosebumps reading them.
There was also a lot of information about their brother Bramwell (there were actually six Bronte children – two other sisters died during childhood). Bramwell had a brief career as an artist – as well as a dependency on alcohol – and I wondered what it must have been like for him to have lived in the shadow of his three famous sisters.
I found the house fascinating and stayed in there a good couple of hours, although it is easy to move through quickly if you’re not interested in reading everything (as a few coach parties demonstrated while I was there).
From The Parsonage I walked down the steep cobbled Main Street, which looks like something out of a postcard, with the Yorkshire countryside visible in the distance.
The village is definitely set up for the tourist trade and is filled with quirky shops selling vintage and locally made products.
As well as lots of reminders of its most famous residents.
It was a perfect way to while away the afternoon. Luckily for Mr A I managed to restrain myself from buying too much – although a few books from my favourite ladies did manage to make it into my shopping bag…
Entry into the Bronte Parsonage Museum is £7.50 and your entrance ticket is valid for a year. You can also become a member of the Bronte Society and there’s more information about that on the site.
If you’re also a literary geek, you might like to join our #travelbookclub. We meet once a month on Twitter to discuss a different travel book. Everyone welcome!