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Haworth: Bronté Country

Updated on May 14, 2013
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Bronwen loves to enjoy literature and write poetry; some are in her book, 'Dithyrambles', available in her online bookstore.

The Cobbled Main Street of Haworth
The Cobbled Main Street of Haworth | Source

The Village of Haworth

The Village of Haworth is a small village in West Yorkshire, England. It is popular with tourists who want to learn more about the place where the Bronte family lived from 1820 until 1861. It is a delightful, picturesque village today, but when the Bronte family moved there it was a small, overcrowded mill town.

The streets are still very steep, narrow and cobbled, just as they must have been when the Bronte family lived there, and many of the buildings remain, too. The views from the hilly streets are delightful and helped to inspire the writings of the Bronte sisters at a time when there was much prejudice against female writers.

The Church: The Incumbents
The Church: The Incumbents | Source

Revd Patrick Bronte

The Reverend Patrick Bronte, father of the famous early feminist writers, has an interesting story of his own. In 1819, while he was ministering in Thornton, the Bishop of Bradford offered him the living at Haworth, but had gone over the head of the local people and they were very unhappy, so he declined. The following year the people, through the Bishop, offered Revd Patrick the living and he accepted. The family moved to the Vicarage in 1820 and Revd Patrick began his ministry at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels. The Vicarage, which also seems to be known as the Parsonage, remained his home for the next forty-one years.

Priestly Duties: As priest of the Parish, the Reverend Patrick Bronte was acclaimed as a talented preacher. However, his priestly duties went well beyond writing and delivering sermons. There was a high birthrate in the mill town and he baptised an average of around 290 children per year. There were also many funerals to conduct and grieving families to visit. Almost half of the Haworth children did not survive for long and it was recorded that 41.6% of them died before reaching the age of six. In fact, the average life expectancy for the inhabitants of the town was only 22 years.

Other Duties: Revd Patrick Bronte was concerned for all the people of Haworth, many of whom lived in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. He had many calls on his time as he also directed the National School and St. Michael and All Angels' Sunday School. He was a popular rural Vicar and instigated improvements in both sanitation and education that made a lasting difference and are still remembered.


The Church
The Church | Source

The Bronte Family

The Revd Patrick's wife, Maria (née Branwell), did not survive long in Haworth. In the following year, 1821, she died of cancer on September 15th. Her sister took over the care of the six Bronte children, but in 1825 both Maria and Elizabeth died. The remaining four children, three daughters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, and the only son, Branwell, lived at the Vicarage.

In 1831, Charlotte went to work at a school in Mirfield and others followed her example and found work: Emily at a school in Halifax and Anne as a tutor with the Robinson family. For a while, Branwell tried to work as a portrait painter, but was not very successful, so then also became a tutor, but was accused of having an affair with the children's mother and returned home in disgrace.

In 1842, their aunt Branwell died and the legacy enabled all four Bronte children to return home. Now they had the finances, they were able to remain at the Vicarage and begin publishing.

The Works of the Three Bronte Sisters:

  • 1845: The three Bronte women jointly published a book of their poems.
  • 1847: Two novels: Charlotte's 'Jane Eyre' and Emily's 'Wuthering Heights.'
  • 1848: Annie's novel: 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
  • 1849: Charlotte's 'Shirley.'
  • 1853: Charlotte's 'Villette.'
  • Charlotte also began a novel, 'Emma,' and a final one, 'The Professor,' was published in 1857 after her death.


Introduction to the Village
Introduction to the Village | Source

Early Deaths

Life in Haworth must have been very unhappy at times as the Reverend Patrick Bronte saw firstly, his wife die in 1821, then each of his children go. He outlived them all.

  • 1825: Maria and Elizabeth, as we have seen.
  • 1848: On 24th September, Branwell, aged 31, died as a result of his addiction to both alcohol and opium.
  • 1848: 19th December, Emily, aged 30, died of tuberculosis.
  • 1849: On 28th May, Anne Died, aged 29. She had gone only four days earlier to Scarborough, hoping that the sea air might cure her tuberculosis, but it was not to be. She is the only one of the family who was not buried in Haworth.
  • 1855: On 31st March, Charlotte, aged 38. She had married Arthur Bell Nichols, her father's curate, and was pregnant when she died, so her father did not even have the pleasure of a single grandchild from his six children.

The Inn - Where We Ate, Too.
The Inn - Where We Ate, Too. | Source

The Black Bull Inn

There are several pubs and inns in Haworth, but the Black Bull is the most famous, especially for tourists who want to experience the ambience of the village. This was Branwell's favourite and where he frequently drank to excess. It is a lovely, cosy inn with small rooms and intimate alcoves for diners. The day we went there, the food was excellent and it was lovely to sit and watch, through the tiny panes that made up the windows, seeing the passing parade of happy visitors as they toiled up the cobblestoned, winding road.

Most of the fame the sisters achieved from their writing only came after their deaths and it was sad to think of their father, bereft of all his family, persevering on in his work in the Parish until he, too, died.

Happy Tourists
Happy Tourists | Source

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    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      saty100faces: Thank you. No, but my friends took me to lunch in the pub that Patrick used to haunt. There are so many interesting places in England that are linked with literature, it's a real joy to visit.

    • saty100faces profile image

      Satarupa Mitra 2 years ago from India

      Whenever I travel England it takes me back to my Literature days.I did travel to this breathtaking moorland of Haworth.You have come up with a beautiful read.Did you stand on Ponden Kirk and listened to the voice of Cathy and Heathcliffe ?Haha !!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      suzettenaples: It was not a big city, but it was a mill town and very overcrowded in those days, which didn't help. To us today, it is so pretty and picturesque, but I think it was rather dingy and dirty in those days with the mill and long hours of work for most of the inhabitants. Both Emily and Anne died of TB. Lovely to hear from you again.

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      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      That is so interesting. I wondered how the girls got tuberculosis (some did, I forget which ones) even in those times. I didn't realize how unsanitary and how bad the water was in those days. I always connected tuberculosis with big cities - urban areas, not small towns on the moors.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      suzettenaples: I might have guessed it was you! How lovely and thank you for your comments. It is a charming town now, but it wasn't just the cold wind that carried them off, the town was overcrowded and unsanitary and the drinking water was contaminated. Their father did a lot to help in the cleaning up, but it was too late for his family.

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      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      I would love to visit this quaint and charming town on the moors. I am a Bronte sister fan and have read their novels. It is so sad that all the children died so young, but I guess the cold wind there brought illness to all of them. Well, except Bran, he killed himself with alcohol and drugs. It is a wonderful but sad story of them all. Thanks so much and your photos are lovely and really show the town. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Marcia Ours: How lovely! There is so much to see and enjoy. I hope you do make it back again and have a great time.

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      Marcia Ours 4 years ago

      We went to England six years ago and stayed in Yorkshire 3 nights. It was really nice. Someday I want to go back to England and definitely want to see more of Yorkshire!

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      phoenix327: I think that would be wonderful, I love watching it on TV. The last time we were in Britain together we saw an indoor Tattoo in the Albert Hall and it was just great!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      lol Sounds about right for Scotland. I would like one day to see the Military Tattoo live instead of on TV.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      phoenix2327: The weather was quite good when we were there, but it was summer. Once when we went to Scotland in our motorised caravan it was Easter and not 'the season' so we could stay in the camping park, but there was no hot water for showers. I washed out some clothes, hung them on the line and in the morning they had frozen stiff!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      No, I haven't done any exploring up North. I'm waiting to catch the 20 minutes of summer that occurs there. I don't do cold weather well. lol I would really love to see Scotland.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      phoenix2327: I'm not sure that it was brave, but rather a silly thing to do. There's probably a walkway or bridge across or something these days and people just go there without even realizing it. It's the ruin of what I thought was his castle, but it may have been his birthplace. Have you been to Haworth, too?

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      OMG, no we didn't. We didn't even know there was such a thing. I definitely don't remember seeing it advertised anywhere. And if I had been I definitely wouldn't have done it.

      How brave of you, though. Where was the island? What was it like?

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rats! Oh, dear. Do you still have to climb down the cliff face on a rope ladder to get to the island where King Arthur's castle was? That was really scary, especially as we had children with us, including one in a 'back-pack' (not sure what the real word is) on my husband's back. Good on you for doing it!

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      The Ghost Tour was fun, exhausting (those hills again) and unnerving. We stopped at a very old cemetery while the tour guide told a tale. By the time he was done I was more frightened of running into rats while there than ghosts. lol

      Yes, I did visit Tintagel. And I went to what was left of King Arthur's reputed birthplace. Great for photographing land and seacapes, but if you have problems with heights (like I do) I wouldn't advise it. It was a truly scary experience for me. But I did it. :)

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      phoenix2327: Oooh! A Ghost Tour! Was it scary or fun? Did you also go to Tintagel of King Arthur fame?

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      Yes, it's gorgeous there. I spent an entire day looking in the galleries, sitting by the beach, noshing in the cafes, taking photos and then went for a Ghost Tour that evening. What a fabulous town St. Ives is.

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      phoenix2327: St. Ives certainly does, which is why artists love going there so much, it's so picturesque. I'm not sure it did much for my legs except make them ache, but the views were certainly worth it.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      St. Ives in Cornwall has streets like that. It's seemed like every place I wanted to visit was uphill. I had thighs like a wrestler by the end of my holiday. lol

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      kidscrafts: Yes, they can be quite a challenge, but it's what helps to add to the attractive ambience of a place.

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      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      There was one of those street going up when I came back from school in Belgium :-) So steep you had to walk with your bicycle beside you!

    • BlossomSB profile image
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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      AliciaC: I'm so glad you've been there. All the connections with the Bronte family are interesting and it is such an enchanting area to visit, as well.

      Eiddwen: Oh, thank you, Eddy. That is so sweet. Have a lovely day.

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      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Oh Blossom this one has to be one of your best.So interesting and very well informed.

      Eddy.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for this interesting and enjoyable hub, Blossom. I went to Haworth on my last visit to England and loved exploring the village and the surrounding area. The Bronte family are very interesting, and Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books.

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      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Rayne123: I hope you do manage to travel there one day. I found it such an interesting and attractive village.

      Paul Kuehn: Thank you. I haven't read 'Agnes Grey' so I'll have to look out for it. The Brontes were certainly an interesting and talented family and told so much about their lives in the early days of Queen Victoria.

      phoenix2327: I thought it was very sad, too, but some of the daughters certainly left a legacy behind with their writing.

      kidscrafts: Yes, it was a lovely place to visit, although, as you write, those cobbles were not so easy, especially as the streets were so steep as well, but fortunately we survived with no twisted ankles. Oh, I love Belgium. It was one of my Grandfather's favourite places to visit, too.

      cleaner3: Do you know, the first time I read Wuthering Heights I didn't appreciate it at all, I found it far too dark and gloomy. Probably I was too young the first time around. It really is a lovely village, but then the sanitation has improved somewhat since those days!

      Frank Atanacio: Thank you, Frank. And you always say the nicest things!

      always exploring: Yes, with the poor sanitation and unclean drinking water lots of the young ones succumbed to diseases such as smallpox, measles, whooping cough and scarlet fever, while the older ones died of smallpox, typhus, dysentery and tuberculosis. We barely hear of most of these diseases today; so many advances have been made in a relatively short time.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This was an extremely interesting read for me. I would love to see the town. The history of the Bronte family was somewhat sad. I was amazed to learn of the life expectancy being only twenty two years and most of the children died before the age of six. Thank goodness for modern medicine. Thank you....

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

      what a wonderful share blossoms.. you never disappoint voted up as usual..:)

    • cleaner3 profile image

      cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

      wow.. this takes me back to my childhood when i read Wuthering Heights and my imagination took to the cobblestone streets .. great pictures and interesting facts of this small village .

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 4 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Thank you for sharing this interesting hub, Blossom! I love your pictures! What a great place to visit! I love the look of those cobbled streets... not so confortable to drive on, especially with rain. When I go in Belgium, sometimes I go through one village or another who still has some of those cobbled roads.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      That's so very sad that all his children died so young. At least a few will live on through their works.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      blossomsb,

      This is a very interesting hub. It perked my interest because I have recently read three books by the Bronte sisters: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Agnes Grey. In addition to "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall," Anne Bronte also wrote "Agnes Grey" which I recently completed reading. All books are classics which everyone should read to experience life in Victorian England in the early 19th century. I enjoyed Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte the most because this novel is very romantic. Voted up and sharing with followers. Also Pinning and Tweeting.

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      Rayne123 4 years ago

      this is interesting, thank you.

      It is actually the first time I hear about this family. What a beautiful looking antique place. I would love to travel there.

    • profile image

      Rayne123 4 years ago

      this is interesting, thank you.

      It is actually the first time I hear about this family. What a beautiful looking antique place. I would love to travel there.