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28 October 2014
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At home with the Brontes...
room in Haworth Parsonage Museum

Inside the Bronte Parsonage Museum

Every year around 85,000 people visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth. Curator Rachel Terry believes that people enjoy the Bronte novels and want to see the place where they were all written and that their own lives interest people as much as their novels.



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The Bronte family lived in the Haworth Parsonage from 1820 to Patrick's death in 1861. The Bronte Society who own and manage the Parsonage have, wherever possible, restored the rooms to the way they appeared in the early 1850s.

Even people who have never picked up a Bronte novel may be fascinated by the glimpses the building provides of middle class life at this time.

Go and see it. You will be given a brief and easily digested leaflet when you arrive which provides a guided tour of the Museum.

Sampler made by the Bronte sisters
A sampler made by the Bronte sisters

You can also prepare for your visit by taking the virtual tour provided by the Bronte Society’s website which provides additional information. You might then want to revise any image you might have of Patrick Bronte when you know that during their courtship, Maria, his future wife, addressed him in a letter as "My Dear Saucy Pat."

As you go around the house you may conclude that this was no ordinary family. Patrick Bronte encouraged his children to read the newspapers and journals of the day and this is evident in their earliest writing which survives in the "little books." Curator Rachel Terry observes that there is a "wonderful mix of reality and fantasy" in the juvenilia. The imaginary worlds of Angria and Gondal have been influenced by the politics of the day.

painting of Charlotte Bronte
Painting of Charlotte Bronte

So much on show on the house was actually used by the Brontes - the sofa on which Emily died, the clock which Patrick would wind each night before going to bed, Charlotte’s paintbox and the collar worn by Keeper, Emily's dog, are just a few of these items.

The Parsonage was extended by Patrick Bronte's successor and this additional space is used as an exhibition area.

While it is not possible, because of space and in the interests of conservation, to have all the museum’s collections on display at any one time, at least one bonnet, dress and sampler will always be on show. Visitors are often surprised by the small size of Charlotte’s dress and shoes.

A dress worn by Charlotte Bronte
A dress worn by Charlotte Bronte

Since its founding in 1893 the Bronte Society has amassed the world’s largest collection of Bronteana. Despite this, parts of manuscripts may be still scattered in collections across the world and, although we now seem to know so much about their lives, there are still considerable gaps in our knowledge.

Even now, new Bronte items still come to light. Most recently the Museum has acquired part of a letter in Charlotte’s handwriting in which she discusses her trousseau. Charlotte writes that her original intention had not been to wear white at her wedding. The letter will be on display later this year together with Charlotte’s wedding veil and bonnet.

The Parsonage is also home to the Bronte Society's Library which contains many original documents . Use of the Library is available by appointment, and on payment of a small fee. The collection includes both original manuscripts as well as later works about the Brontes.

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