Haworth: In the footsteps of the Brontes

It's an atmospheric day to be in Haworth, where the Brontes lived and worked. There have been "treacherous" weather warnings, snow has fallen and this pretty hamlet on the edge of the moors is cowering in the bleakness of winter. Slopes cast in charcoal grey sweep towards each horizon beneath a silvery sky. The wind whips down from the moors, chilling everything in its path. The houses of Haworth cling to their steep hillside as if braced against the weather, their old-fashioned facades clustering onto sheltered squares and the sheer main street that tumbles downhill in a pretty queue of quaint shops - that I can't help but think Emily Bronte would have frowned upon.

If the town is chocolate box, Haworth Parsonage, which sits on the very edge of the moors, conjures up the wild scenes of Wuthering Heights. Trees now provide scant shelter, but when the Brontes lived here, there would have been no such protection. We enter through the front door, and there is a sense that the family have only just left. The place has been beautifully restored and maintained to capture what once was - the crimson-coloured dining room, as described in Elizabeth Gaskell's Life of Charlotte Bronte, or the spot under the stairs where Emily famously beat her faithful dog Keeper. Even the paintwork in the hallways has been recreated according to historic records - it's a pretty bluey dove grey - and the flagstone floors are as pristine as Charlotte was known to have kept them.

Upstairs, the rooms contain artefacts pertaining to the family - original letters and journals, printed in the tiny hand that the siblings were famous for. I wonder what Charlotte Bronte would have made of her satin slippers being on display to the world in her former bedroom. The property volunteers bring the place to life with interesting anecdotes, including a whip-fast timeline of Branwell's debauched life and an insight into how the planting of trees in the graveyard helped purify the area's water. Outside, the wind is picking up and the snow is turning to rain. It's perfect. What better weather conditions could we hope for to experience the Brontes' former home? And to boot, there are hardly any tourists around... it feels as if it's just us and unseen spirits.
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