We in Haworth are very proud of the fact that at one time there lived in our little village one of the most remarkable families in the history of English literature. They were three women writers, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, and their brother Branwell. The father was the Rev. Patrick Bronte who was Rector of Haworth Parish Church, and they all lived at the old stone Parsonage which is situated behind the Church at the top of Haworth's steep Main Street.
There were really six children, their father and their mother, but the two elder girls, Maria and Elizabeth, died when still quite young. Mrs Bronte died about a year after they all came to Haworth (Mr. Bronte brought his little family from Thornton to Haworth in the year 1820) but Mr Bronte outlived them all, dying himself in 1861, aged 84 years .
The Parsonage, a Georgian type of building, the old Bronte home, is now preserved as a permanent memorial to the wonderful family and thousands of people from all parts of the world visit the house each year, over 13,000 this year alone.
Let us take a look inside. As we enter the house, we will first of all look at the living-room on the left hand side of the hall. In this room which has been made fire-proof is housed the Bronte Collection, which consists of many precious first editions of the Bronte books "Jane Eyre", "Villette", "Wuthering Heights", "The Professor", "Poems" and others. Here, too, you will find in one of the glass cases some tiny books, measuring only one inch wide and two and a half inches long. These little books were made by the Bronte children when they were quite young and they contain some fine stories, in some cases of no less than 1500 words, hand-written in microscopic script in ink. There are some very beautiful little paintings here too. You really ought to see them for yourself.
Now we will go into the parlour or the Rev. P. Bronte's study, which is directly opposite on the right hand side of the hall. In this room the first thing that catches your eye is a quaint old piano, Charlotte Bronte's piano, and a square mahogany table on which the Bronte sisters wrote their famous manuscripts. On the left of the room as you enter is the old hair-covered sofa on which Emily died in December, 1848. We go further along the hall and enter a small dark room behind the living room. This was Mr Nicholls' study. Mr Nicholls was Mr Bronte's curate and he married Charlotte in the year 1854. This room contains books and manuscripts, and Mr. Nicholls' desk and table. We go from here across the hall through the kitchen into a large room that has been added to the old house, the library, in which are kept a great many books written by different people about the Bronte family.
We retrace our steps a little and go up the stones staircase and visit Tabitha's room. Tabitha was an old servant of the family. This room contains exhibits mostly pertaining to the church.
Next we visit Charlotte's room, which contains many interesting exhibits, chief of which are Charlotte's dresses, shoes, stockings, some of the household crockery, jewellery and her paint-box.
Leaving Charlotte's room we visit the nursery in which all the Bronte children played. A very tiny room this, and you will find scribbled on the plaster walls some of their childish drawings.
Branwell's room is next in which are some of his paintings and manuscripts. This room also contains Mr. Bronte's several pairs of spectacles, his pistol and heel-spikes used for greater ease in travelling in snowy weather.
Leaving here we go through the passage to a large "New Wing" room, where are kept the many programmes of plays about the Brontes that have been produced in recent years and many other interesting items concerning the Bronte family.
So our visit ends but you really must come again, for there are so many things to see, hear and talk about.
R. G. Mitchell