Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brontë Country

Graveyard at the Parsonage

Brontë Village--touristy, but cute

I was so tempted to yell "Heathcliffe!!!"

Seriously??? The weather was ridiculous...

Pathway between the Parsonage and Penistone Hill

Farmland around the Parsonage--note the classic stone fencing

Parsonage on the right with Church in the background and school on the left

Plaque at the school saying Charlotte taught there

The Parsonage and graveyard

Penistone Hill and the moors--all that low brown vegetation is heather

Other than that telephone pole, this is so what the moors looked like in Emily Brontë's time

Views from the village looking towards Keighley

Another shot of the graveyard, Parsonage and school

Just behind the Parsonage, at the gate leading towards the farmland

Now that my money’s all sorted out, I finally was able to go to Haworth.

The bus stop to Keighley (where you connect for Haworth) is literally around the corner—even closer than walking to the grocery store. I set off around 11, thinking it would be a quick ride over, because Haworth’s only 18 miles away according to Google maps. The ride to Keighley took about an hour. It was all back roads and small villages—no freeways like the bus between Bath and Reading I took last year. Even though it was long, it was pretty cool to see all the little towns with their own little pubs and takeaways. The ride between Keighley and Haworth was about half an hour, and even more rural if that’s possible. I caught my first glimpse of the moors on the ride there—bleak and rough but breathtaking. There’s a steam engine you can take between Keighley and Haworth for 12 pounds round trip, which isn’t too bad considering you get to ride on authentic old Pullman cars.

In Haworth I got off the bus at the train station and walked up the path to the “Brontë village”—an adorable touristy climb on a narrow cobblestone street (which cars actually use, despite all the pedestrians). At the top is the church, graveyard, parsonage and a school. Beyond the parsonage is just farmland and a trail leading even further uphill to Penistone Hill. The parsonage was very cool—just a self-guided tour, but that’s alright with me. I prefer that to some of the lame tour guides I’ve had in the past (although a tour guide with a Yorkshire accent would’ve been fun). No photography allowed, but I bought lots of postcards (which is probably why they don’t allow photos…). They have lots of actual belongings—manuscripts, clothing, locks of hair, etc. My favorites were Charlotte’s writing desk and a dress of Emily’s. For the most part, they had the actual furniture throughout the house—the actual kitchen table where they said Emily made bread every week, the actual desk in Rev. Brontë’s study, etc. They had an exhibit at the end talking about the myths regarding the Brontës—that they were crazy or anti-social or had a cruel father. It turns out that Charlotte actually started a lot of that talk when she criticized her father to her biographer Elizabeth Gaskell, and emphasized Emily’s shyness and love of her pets to the extent that it made people think Emily preferred animals to people and was crazy/anti-social. Of course, her poetry’s a little crazy, too.

I had to check out Penistone Hill because of the literary reference and it completely lived up to my expectations. The weather was just as bad as it sounds in Wuthering Heights—really windy with rain that was just being pelted at your face in little pinpricks. I turned back when I saw the trail would go on another mile to Brontë Falls, ‘cause I didn’t want to die of TB like they all did.

I had a late lunch at The Fleece, a pub just down the street. It’s old and classic and they serve a really good local ale, Timothy Taylor’s. After all that walking in the cold wind and rain, I was craving some heavy pub grub. I finally understand English cuisine. It’s not about lack of ingredients or creativity—it’s all down to the climate. When it’s cold, nothing hits the spot like some gravy-laden meat and veg. I had steak and ale pie (made with that Timothy Taylor ale), which was much better than I’d ever had before. The steak and ale were in a shallow dish and the puff pastry was just set on top, and my chips and veg weren’t soaked with gravy (unlike at O’Neill’s, which I love, but really?)

All in all, I had a great time. I wouldn’t have wanted perfect weather—this was much more authentic.


Kelly and Jason said...

You lucky little snot! I am racked with Jealousy!

Elaine Saunders - Complete Text said...

Now you've visited Haworth, do you understand why the Brontes never wrote lightweight comedies? You can feel the bleak moors and hillsides leaking out of every scene - Wuthering Heights could never have been written by someone who lived in gentility in a big city.

Elaine Saunders
Author - Fiction Writing Exercises

Molly said...

Indeed--Wuthering Heights captures the moors, just as Austen captures Bath or Dickens captures London. Crafting literature is such an organic process, absorbing the influences of the author's surroundings. Thanks for your comment!