Posted by: tonyexdruid | February 5, 2010

The Parsonage – a study.

Originally known as Glebe House, the Parsonage was built in 1779. The Bronte family moved here from Thornton, Yorkshire in April 1820 and always called it the Parsonage.

It may be hard to imagine but there was no piped water, gas or electricity at the Parsonage. Patrick Bronte did at some stage add a back kitchen, which appears in outline on a map drawn before 1824. A well in the back yard was the source of all water. Also in the backyard was a two seater privy used by the whole household – there was no such luxury as an inside lavatory!

Due to the lack of a gas supply the house was lit by candles, rushlights and oil lamps. There were fireplaces in all rooms, but they could not afford to light the fires unless absolutely necessary. With so many open flames in the house Patrick sensibly forbade using curtains but all windows had interior wooden shutters. The ground floor rooms and stairs were stone flagged.  

In 1850 (which was after the deaths of Emily, Branwell, Anne, Maria etc) Charlotte made some alterations to the house which consisted of enlarging the dining room and bedroom above at the expense of the entrance hall and small bedroom above it (Emily’s room). A decorative archway was installed and internal access to the old storeroom and servants bedroom above was made.

In 1854 Charlotte and Arthur Bell Nicholls married and they planted two fir trees in the garden that year.

In 1855 Charlotte died at the Parsonage and in 1856 the churchyard closed for burials.

In 1861 Patrick (the last surviving member of the original family) also died at the Parsonage and the Rev John Wade became the new incumbent and took over the Parsonage. It appears by all accounts that Wade deplored the publicity that had grown around the Brontes by this time, and it was he who was responsible for the large scale alterations to the house (more about the Rev Wade elsewhere).

In 1864 the trees were planted in the churchyard.

In 1874 Wade added a new gabled North and West wing to the Parsonage including new fireplaces and removal of the old kitchen range. The back kitchen was demolished to make was for a large kitchen extension. The ground floor level was raised by several inches by laying a wooden floor over the existing flags in the study and dining room in an effort to make the house warmer. Wade put in new fireplaces and mantle pieces. The wainscot was removed and replaced by skirting boards. The whole staircase has probably been replaced at some point and the banisters have certainly been replaced.  

In 1879 Wade had the old church demolished, retaining only the original tower, which was extended to accomodate a clock face. Some of the graves had to be re sited.

In the 1960’s considerable extensions took place around the rear of the Parsonage by the Bronte Society.

So although the Parsonage (and church) you see today may look original, it is worth remembering that it is not really how the Brontes would of remembered it!

The Parsonage

The above photo (care of the Bronte Society) was taken around the 1980’s but it nicely shows the Rev.Wade’s extension on the right hand side of the building. The garden wall is also visible, most of which is not original I’m afraid! and also Church lane. The photo has been taken from near the roof of the sunday school in which Charlotte taught.

The Parsonage pre-extension!

The above photo is my attempt to show roughly how the Parsonage would of looked in the Brontes day. Obviously no extension on the right! but there was a path (edged by the garden wall) going around the right side of the house as I’ve tried to show here. Also there are now seven steps leading to the front door, whereas the Brontes knew only the three.

Earliest known image

Above is the earliest known image of the Parsonage believed to date from the 1850’s. Notice just the three white steps leading to the front door and the path at the side of the house. Also note the footpath leading to the fields at the back of the Parsonage. This is the path that the girls would of taken to the moors beyond. Just visible is the top of church lane from which the footpath originates. The narrow chimney visible left of centre of the Parsonage is from Patrick’s back kitchen.

Parsonage around 1900

Above is a later view  taken around 1900 showing Wades extension. Also visible is The Barn (to the right of the Parsonage) which was a stonemasons workshop in the Brontes day (and just out of shot of the earliest image). It was demolished in 1903. The top of church lane is visible and part of the sunday school.

The old church, Haworth.

Above is a nice early photo of the church the Brontes knew. Notice the shorter bell tower. This church was demolished in 1879.

St Michaels & All Saints, Haworth

Above is how the church looks today. Only the bell-clock tower is original.

Old plan showing layout of both churches

Above is a drawing showing the layout of the old church (in grey) to be replaced by the new church (in red). 1878

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