Bronte Parsonage Museum

Yesterday we set off at about 10.40 a.m. to travel 15 kms from Cragg Vale through Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge to Haworth. We couldn’t turn the car around at the house, and went up to our usual turnout at the first road going left. At that point, Google Maps suggested taking that road. We did, and had a beautiful tour over the hill and down into Mytholmroud via small laneways. It was the long way around, but at that stage we were feeling optimistic and simply enjoyed the views.

From there, the journey went smoothly, though we noticed a ‘road closure’ sign as we left HB. There was no indication of where exactly the road closure would occur, so we travelled on until we were probably around 7 kms out from our destination and the road was closed, with both lanes blocked. There had been a sign for traffic redirection earlier, which we ignored, very silly. Later, when I checked the redirected road it only lead back to the other side of Hebden Bridge and wouldn’t have been helpful anyway.

By the time we were back at HB we needed a toilet stop. Fortunately we knew where to find public toilets at a car park near the centre. We parked illegally as the car park was full.

At this stage we still wanted to continue and decided to go via Halifax. I could see an earlier turnoff, but was wary because it was one of those small roads that go over the hills and could be quite tricky to navigage. The road to Halifax and leading away from Halifax to Haworth was a fairly easy drive, but when we encountered a roundabout I was unable to get into the correct lane. We went around twice, drove into a dead end near a rubbish disposal site, and accidentally landed on the road we had intended.

We find that Google Maps has a slight delay in giving directions and it often means that we go for a distance down a wrong road before we can correct. After Halifax we felt hungry and in need of a rest and found a Morrisons with a cafe. It was good to have a break.

The drive to Haworth was not to difficult from there, though actually finding the museum was a bit tricky, with a bit of driving on a cobbled road before realising how to get to a car park. Later we found there was a car park for the actual museum, but we hadn’t checked the town map before setting off and didn’t know about it. Just shows that in future we need to do thorough research.

We arrived there at about 2.00 p.m., having done many miles more than our original plan.

The museum is set in the parsonage where the Brontes lived and it was very interesting. The house has been described by commentators as being dark and gloomy, but our experience was that it is a very nice house, grander on the outside than I was expecting, with fairly large rooms, high ceilings and large windows. The wallpaper in a couple of the rooms has been replicated to match Charlotte’s choices, and basically the atmosphere in the house was what you would expect of such talented women, homely, yet gracious. Of course, we had a lot of sunshine yesterday, perhaps it is gloomy in winter.

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The church that was originally here probably looked much like this one. It is visible from the Parsonage. There is an extensive graveyard as well.

The only puzzling thing is how they managed to accommodate all of the children (6) as the father and mother had a bedroom, the father had a study, the son had his own room, though that was probably when he grew up, there was a servants room and seemingly only one room for the children, with a small ‘children’s study’ attached. There were no bunk beds in those days, perhaps they shared beds and had very small beds for the little ones.

When Charlotte got married she remodelled a couple of the rooms, making a larger bedroom for herself and her husband, and making a study for her husband out of a storeroom on the ground floor. Despite all they went through with losing family members, having to work away from home, and so on, they seemed to have retained their strong spirits and went on studying, drawing, painting and writing books.

The house is located in front of a church, though it is not the actual church building they would have seen, it appears in keeping with the parsonage and rest of the buildings in the town. We also thought it would be surrounded by fields, rather than so close to village shops and pubs, but the fields are still there, behind the house and we went for a walk there later.

We visited the pub where the only boy of the family, Branwell, tried to drink himself to death. Actually, he moved on from the Black Bull after a while, perhaps it was too close to the Parsonage and too easy for his father to check him out. We were puzzled by a sign out the front which states that he became secretary of the local chapter of the Freemasons at a date well after his death. The bartender could only hypothesise that the sign had the dates wrong, by about 40 years. I wonder how many people notice it. Eversley followed up, and we confirmed to our own satisfaction that the sign was in error, about dates and about the Freemasons meeting at that particular pub.

We lingered until about 5.30 p.m., even going into a shop where Stephen and I bought hats, scarves and a dress (for me). Not quite what we were expecting to do. Stephen’s theory was that we would miss the worst of the traffic, but of course, the traffic doesn’t die down until quite late.

Having ‘tangoed’ in Halifax earlier I found a route over the hills back to Mytholmroyd. This proved as tricky in parts as I had feared. Much of it was single lane and we had to risk ditches to pass other cars. There was also the odd hairpin bend, very tricky as we would come wide around a blind corner on a downward slope. We also drove through a village with walls very close on either side, plus parked cars.

When we arrived at the main road into Mytholmroyd we quickly became caught up in the ‘lock’ where we were waiting for the change of lights further up the road where the floodworks take place. As with coming from HB, it was a very long process until we could finally get on the road up to Cragg Vale.

In compensation, our whole drive home was mostly in sunshine with stunning views across the countryside as we climbed up. Although we do feel some compulsion to take in many of the sights of Yorkshire that have been suggested to us, we are also aware that we are staying in an area of great natural beauty, with Hebden Bridge as a sort of ideal Yorkshire village. We have hills and dales and farmland and moors, forests, streams, cascades, small rivers and a canal with canal boats.

I’ve put it to the team that although I am happy to drive or be driven locally, I don’t think we should undertake a longer car journey. The road systems are difficult, whether single lane country roads or getting tangled in complicated roundabouts in larger towns. We are using another person’s car, and our hosts when they were staying in our house only used our car for shopping. We are therefore looking at train/bus combinations for our trip to York and beyond.

I didn’t take a lot of photos. We were allowed to take photos in the house, but I guess I was a bit stressed and didn’t. Now I wish I had.

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Behind the parsonage. We walked along this path which led down to the road.

 

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The beginning of the path, with drystone walls.

 

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Looking uphill from the rear of the house

 

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streetview

 

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We didn’t walk down this steep street, just admired it from the top

 

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Having a zoom helps with being able to get closer to the view beyond the village.

The outing was very much worth the unexpected stresses of the drive to and from.

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