Dreams can come true…

Jane Eyre and the Brontës have come to life for me in the past few days!

We’re in West Yorkshire now, on a campsite near Harrogate, and on Wednesday I went to the theatre on my own to see The National Theatre’s play of one of my absolute favourite novels, Jane Eyre.

The play is touring through England and happens to be in Leeds this week, so when I got wind of it a few months back and I knew I’d be in the neighbourhood, I immediately booked myself a ticket. Alone, without the family, as I didn’t think it would be something for the kids. I had purposely not read that much about the play beforehand, I just understood that it was supposed to be good and boy, was it! Here, have a gander at the trailer…

I thought it was wonderful, for me it came close to the experience I had with The Crucible. I was quite emotional at the end of it! Of course, there were a few things I missed and a few minor gripes, but overall this really was excellent! So much so, that I convinced my husband we should all go see it as a family because I think even the kids can enjoy this one. So, we have booked tickets and will all go and see the last performance in Leeds on Saturday evening. I will write up my full impressions of the play sometime after that. I need time to process… and watch again…

I’m in full-on Brontë mode, because today (yesterday by the time this post is published) we visited Haworth Parsonage where the Brontë family lived. For me, this was the main reason for our trip. I have wanted to see this place for myself ever since I fell in love with Jane Eyre in my teens (before that, actually, when I first read a simplified version of Jane Eyre at the age of 9 or 10!).

We first drove by the village of Thornton, by the house where Charlotte Brontë and 3 of her siblings were born…

… and it got me wondering: was this village the inspiration for the name John Thornton in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South? Gaskell, famously, was a friend of Charlotte’s and wrote the first Charlotte Brontë biography two years after Charlotte died (and also two years after N&S was published).

Afterwards we drove to the village of Haworth, where the Brontës moved to when Charlotte was 4 and where she and her whole family lived for the rest of their lives. Her father, Patrick Brontë, preached at the church there and in the church is also where the family found their last resting place. The graves can’t be seen, there’s a pillar above where the family vault is, put there after the chruch was rebuilt after the deaths of all the Brontës. Maria Brontë, the mother, was the first to go when the youngest child, Anne, was only a few months old. The oldest girls, Maria and Elizabeth, passed away because of TB when they were around 10, Branwell was 30 when he died because of opium and alcohol abuse, Emily Brontë died only 3 months later (also of TB) and Anne died half a year after that (again TB). Charlotte died a few years later at age 38, probably due to the effects of extreme morning sickness, nine months after she had gotten married. Patrick Brontë outlived his whole family, he lived till his 80s. Anne Brontë is the only one not buried here, she rests in Scarborough, where she died…

The church and the parsonage where the Brontës lived are very close to each other, separated by only a graveyard…

Next to the church, on the path that leads from the parsonage to the church, there is a school that Patrick Brontë set up and where his children also taught at…

The village is situated on steep hills and very pretty…

We had lunch in this pub…

And at the end of the afternoon we had drinks in “Branwell’s pub”, The Black Bull, where Branwell used to go (as soon as he had any money) to get drunk…

The highlight of the visit was of course the Brontë Parsonage itself! The right part of the house was added on after the Brontës had gone.

Inside was Patrick Brontë’s study, with the magnifying glass he used for reading and the piano Emily used to play on; there’s the kitchen; the children’s study; Patrick’s bedroom (the neat one); and Branwell’s messy, artistic bedroom (click on images to enlarge). By the way, all the costumes you see on display were used in the BBC TV film about the Brontës: To Walk Invisible.

One of the most special rooms was the sitting/dining room with the table where Jane Eyre had been written at by Charlotte!
Bronte parsonage (2)

Charlotte Brontë’s bedroom upstairs (also the room in which she died) has all sorts of artefacts, like her reading glasses laid out on her writing desk, some portraits she drew, her shoes or the wax seal that she had used.

There were more artefacts on display in another section of the house, like Emily Brontë’s artist’s box; a dress-up top hat (not an original) that Mr Esther put on for my viewing pleasure; a lock of Charlotte’s hair; the original signatures of Currer Bell (Charlotte Brontë), Ellis Bell (Emily Brontë) and Acton Bell (Anne Brontë); Emily Brontë’s wax seal; writing by teenage Charlotte and a first edition of Wuthering Heights.

At the museum there was also an extra special event: an art project where, during 2 half hours each day, the lost manuscript of Wuthering Heights is being re-created, one line at a time (see description in the picture below, click to enlarge). The people who choose to do so get to copy one line of the novel into the manuscript; I also participated and wrote one line from Chapter 23…

It was the end of the afternoon by the time we left Haworth. Right behind the parsonage the Yorkshire moors start, so famously depicted by the Brontës. We drove on for a few miles and then got out for a little walk on these moors. The views are breathtaking, the colours on the moor change all the time with the clouds and sun at play, it really felt like I was walking in Jane Eyre’s world or in Wuthering Heights!

Seeing Haworth, the Brontë Parsonage and the moors for myself was a dream come true for me! I won’t quickly forget this experience…

17 thoughts on “Dreams can come true…

  1. Your report from Bronte country really makes me want to travel to Yorkshire right now. Definitely a destination that is now on my map. Great photos – and enjoy the theatre again.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. squirrel.0072

    Le même type d’impressions pour moi, mais en ce qui concerne des vacances en Irlande pour l’étude des “peats and the bog bodies” et accessoirement sur les traces de Pilgrimage… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. squirrel.0772

        Le challenge, qu’ il vous reste à gravir, est de conserver cette état d’âme, cet état d’esprit euphorique, dynamique, au retour de vos vacances. Pour ma part, je diffuse de la musique irlandaise en boucle, je brûle une bougie, composée de cires naturelles, supposée reproduire l’odeur de la tourbe consumée dans l’âtre d’une cheminée et je travaille à regrouper les photographies et les documents collectés, entourée d’une collection de gadgets à l’effigie de moutons multicolores…


  3. Great essay! I am such a huge fan of Jane Eyre! How lovely for you to see a stage production of it. And I loved reading about your trip to see the Bronte’s home and such! Wonderful pictures! The vistas at the end were beautiful! And it’s amazing that so many historical artifacts related to the Brontes are in situ today!

    Years ago, I had visited the late 1800’s to early 1900’s home of one of our state’s literary legends, Vachel Lindsay. He wrote “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” among other things. The house had yet to be conserved, and was not exactly structurally sound–with floors deforming as we walked on them and such. I can only hope that if I get to visit it again, the home might be as beautifully conserved as the Bronte’s home.

    Thanks for sharing!


  4. Sounds like you are having a wonderful vacation. So glad you were able to see all of these notable Bronte sites. Aren’t the moors lovely? I wouldn’t want to be out on them on a cold wet night, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dein Mann passt mir dem Hut da gut hin 🙂 steht ihm! Wunderschöne alte und verwunschene Häuser, allerdings wollte ich in der Zeit nicht gelebt haben, Frauen hatten ja quasi keine Rechte 😦
    Gut dass es die Damen doch geschafft haben berühmt zu werden mit all ihrer Kreativität!


  6. Pingback: Rapid Fire Book Q&A | The Book of Esther

  7. Pingback: Jane Eyre in Leeds! | The Book of Esther

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