Haworth, West Yorkshire
Haworth, an English village I hadn’t even heard of until visiting yesterday, but that holds an immense legacy in the literary world.
Haworth is a village of steep cobbled streets, sleepy stone cottages, an abundance of witty signage and most importantly, a strong, feminist presence – which makes sense considering this unremarkable little spot of Yorkshire was the actual birthplace of some of the greatest and most renowned female-authored classical works of literature in the country.
The Brontë family made Haworth their home in 1820 when Patrick Brontë was appointed incumbent of St Michael and All Angels’ Church. It was in the parsonage, which today houses a most wonderful museum dedicated to the family, where the legendary Brontë sisters did most of their writing, including the likes of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre.
And honestly, the £9.50 admission price is worth it.
The house itself has been set up to resemble as accurately as possible what it might have looked like while the Brontë sisters were living there. The attention to detail is admirable, most of the rooms housing genuine objects and clothing the family owned, and some of the wallpapers specially reproduced as exact replicas of salvaged scraps from those days. Once you’ve explored the house, a further extension leads to an incredibly informative more typical museum layout, expanding on what has been addressed earlier in the tour.
I left understanding these women so much better. They’re no longer simply historical figures who wrote books to me, but real people I can imagine going about their day to day lives. For example, did you know the girls had an alcoholic for a brother, or that Anne was a magnificent artist? Yeah, me either.
The Parsonage Museum is the main tourist draw, though the village itself is small. That’s not to say it’s not still lovely – visually pleasing and home to quaint cafes and specialist local craft stores. There’s also a church and a steam railway, and plenty of country pubs, one of which was supposedly frequented by the Brontë brother, Branwell.
And of course, there are plenty of other similar villages close by, as well as viewpoints and public walks with which you can embrace the countryside if the weather’s on your side (unlike on these particularly brisk and slightly wet February weekdays).
We ended our day by spending the night huddled up with a few alcoholic beverages and some Fawlty Towers in a cute but drafty little cottage in nearby Oxenhope, after a massive home cooked meal at nearby pub-restaurant, The Old Silent Inn. It’s just a shame it was too cold to really get stuck in with all the Yorkshire countryside has to offer. If you are in the area though, give Haworth a chance, especially if you have a soft spot for British literature…