Here’s what happened when I took an unplanned walk to the village of Heptonstall from Hebden Bridge.
It started with this.
I thought, just because you can doesn’t mean you should–but I did it anyway. I saw how steep it was–but I did it anyway. I reckoned, if it gets too bad I’ll just turn back–but in the end I made it all the way to Heptonstall!
People I met on my way up did follow the instruction on the sign–honestly everyone was so dead nice!
I’ve not spent much time in the actual village, just enough to take some shots. My loss, probably, as there is a museum and also the poet Sylvia Plath is buried in the graveyard extension of the St Thomas the Apostle Church (but that I found out later by Googling, at home). I needed to preserve energy for the walk back!
It’s a very picturesque village as you can see.
Chicken at the Methodist church graveyard.
So that was trip to Hebden Bridge. A lot of it quite unexpected.
So here they are, as promised in my previous post.
These pastures are right beyond the Haworth Parsonage and the church–there are several little paths that lead out on the moors.
I believe Top Withens, carved on the above sign, was Emily Brontë’s original inspiration for the setting of Wuthering Heights.
I wish I could have seen more of the moors, but I had to rush back to town to catch the bus. Yeah, literally I ran on the moors, though for much more practical and much less romantic reason than that I wish I were a girl, half savage and hardy and free. (Well, I am ever an indoors person.)
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
I’ve always had hard time with Wuthering Heights. It was a struggle for me to read it in English (when Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall weren’t) and I don’t like the narrative style, though I can get past that. What really was the problem, as it is probably for many people, was that the book was promoted to me as romance–when it isn’t. It’s a story about revenge and cycles of abuse, as brilliantly explained in this Tumblr post. Once I understood that, I got it. And what I always liked, even before I knew all of this, was the ending and how Catherine the younger and Hareton get together. I have no doubt the first Catherine and Heathcliff loved each other, but they were both awful and hurt everyone around them. Whereas Catherine Jr and Hareton chose kindness in the end and they lived happily ever after. (And let’s not forget, in the 1998 adaptation Hareton is played by Matthew Macfadyen, who went on to play Mr Darcy in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice!)
After seeing the moors with my own eyes, I no longer wonder why Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights. How could she not?
My own video, made by smartphone.
You may have recongised the first line of this post, out on the wiley, windy moors, as the line not from the book, but from the 1978 song by the magnificent Kate Bush. I wonder, could this song be considered a musical version of fanfiction?
Fun fact: Kate Bush and Emily Brontë share the same birthday, 30th July.
Following my previous post, here are some pictures of Haworth Parsonage. (And some things I’ve got to say at the end.)
Haworth Parsonage was the home of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë and is now a museum. It’s mostly unchanged from what it looked like then and contains furniture, clothes and other possessions and artefacts owned by the family. Certainly interesting for any literature lover, but an absolute must for fans of any of the sisters.
St Michael and All Angels Church, where Patrick Brontë was a parson.
The tickets cost £9 for an adult, but can be used for multiple visits within 12 months. The museum also has a little shop that sells their books and souvenirs. They have mugs, notebooks, tote bags, stationery, you know that sort of stuff. I bought myself a fridge magnet with the picture of that famous painting of the three sisters, made by their troublemaker brother Branwell.
I couldn’t help but feel there was an underlying sadness, but that sadness is always there when it comes to the Brontës, isn’t it? They all died so young. I felt such sorrow for Patrick Brontë, who lost his whole family; first his wife to cancer, then all six children one by one. Aside from literature, should another word associated with the Brontës be–tuberculosis? What’s interesting is that Patrick lived to be 84 and for one reason or another, had a strong immunity that was not inherited by his children. Although I wonder. If Charlotte really died from a form of extreme morning sickness, could she have lived longer had she not got pregnant?
The graveyard between the Parsonage and the church.
I want to say a few words about the books now. The ones I’ve read so far are: Jane Eyre by Charlotte, Wuthering Heights by Emily and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne. My favourite out of these? The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! And this is not me being a hipster. It’s because–how could it not be? The real question is, why is it not more popular? Why is Anne known only as the “third Brontë sister”, so much so that Family Guy had a cutaway scene about that?
Charlotte prevented re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne’s death because apparently she found it too shocking. Well, it was, but why did Charlotte find it so? This is what she had to say about it: “Wildfell Hall hardly appears to me desirable to preserve. The choice of subject in that work is a mistake, it was too little consonant with the character, tastes and ideas of the gentle, retiring inexperienced writer.” Like, sigh… So because someone is gentle, they can only write… gentle? Do you even fiction, Charlotte? And who are you to decide it was not desirable to preserve and what makes you think the subject of the work is a mistake? Anne didn’t put in the book anything that she hadn’t seen while working as a governess, which included Branwell’s affair with Lydia Robinson, the mistress of the house and mother of the children Anne was a governess to. It’s likely she left her position because of that.
What can you do, Branwell gonna Branwell.
Really, I don’t understand why Charlotte was so easily shocked. She was the oldest. She spent time in Brussels, she had a huge crush on a married man, she worked as a teacher and as a governess, she must have seen things. And then there was the alcohol-prone, opium-addicted, debt-incurring brother. Branwell inspired all three of the sisters to some extent, at least I think I can find him in every book. John Reed in Jane Eyre, Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights and Arthur Huntingdon in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. All of their work was quite groundbreaking at the time. So why the outrage, Charl?
I found this article about Anne by Lucy Mangan on Guardian, which ends with “I’d like to think her time has come.” I’d like to think so too and that, in the #MeToo era, there’s no better time than now.
Link to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on Gutenberg. Also, hello Netflix, Amazon Prime or whoever, if you’re reading this: we urgently need a new adaptation. Sort it out for us, please.
Haworth is a village in West Yorkshire and a very picturesque one, as you can see from these photos:
The Main Street is full of little shops, all strictly local–not a chain in sight.
Cobbles and views of the moors, it’s almost like something from a book.
Or it actually is.
Haworth may only be a small place but it’s still very famous, thanks to certain literary sisters who lived here and whose father was a local clergyman.
I decided to make a trip to Haworth while I was in Leeds a few weeks ago–Yorkshire sort of promotes itself–following what appears to be a my sudden new interest in the Bronte sisters. Although Haworth’s not that far from Manchester, I found it’s almost impossible to get there; there is no train station and no coaches appear to be going there. So I want to say I’m thankful to the website Rome2Rio for telling me about the easiest route, which is: take a train from Manchester Victoria to Hebden Bridge and from there a bus called Bronte bus B3, which stops at Haworth. There is no way on earth I would ever have known that. B3 bus operates once every hour, but that’s okay when you know the timetable and can organise yourself around it.
The journey from Hebden Bridge to Haworth is spellbinding, as the road bends through the Yorkshire moors. I even filmed through the bus window.