Just beyond the cobbles of Haworth Main street, beside a cemetery and a church, and past an old school house which is now a jovial place of drink and music, stands Brontë Parsonage Museum, once the home to three literary figures of the nineteenth century: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë.
My journey to the museum was as engaging as the museum itself: although it is easy to travel there by car and bus, I highly recommend travelling by steam train from Keighley station. One immediately feels like they are in a novel. Once on Haworth Main street, the museum is easy to navigate (that is, if you can resist succumbing to the magic of Haworth main street itself).
When one enters the Brontë Parsonage museum, there is definite overwhelming sense that one is crossing the threshold of a long-anticipated ‘other’ world, one that influenced the course of all creative literature that followed. All staff were pleasantly welcoming and amiable: upon my arrival I was pleasantly greeted and politely directed towards various signs and placards that would guide my tour of the Brontës’ home.
Information is presented clearly and with an obvious hierarchy that in turn guides all visitors round the house in a logical direction. All restorations and artefacts within the museum are appropriately contextualised in a manner that is also engaging. The narrative presented in this museum is an intimately personal and relatable account of the Brontës’ lives and their relationships (with others and with each other). It is difficult not to be moved by accounts of love and death that seemingly plagued this family’s lifespan.
The layout of this exhibition persuades discussion and allows visitors to converse amongst each other, yet encourages one to still respect an overall sense of calm and general quietness whilst everyone takes in the surrounding information. The Brontës’ actual house (much of which has been restored since the Brontës’ dwelling), leads on to a more conventional museum layout displaying fascinating artefacts such as locks of hair, tiny books, items of clothing, and paintings, all of which belonged to and were created by the Brontës and their contemporaries. Amidst this part of the museum is included commentaries on various artefacts by other writers such as Virginia Woolf. This presents further insight into the artefacts in question and encourages a particular engagement with said artefacts from all visitors.
One’s tour of this anachronistic experience is topped off by a museum shop which, along with the obligatory Brontë -Museum memorabilia such as rubbers in the shape of tiny books, magnets, badges, and brightly-coloured biro-plumes, offers novels, and beautifully innovative literature-themed jewellery. The shop was as fascinating as the museum.
Unfortunately, museum access is limited and there are no toilets within the museum itself (although there are public toilets close by); however, staff are willing to help in any access needs. Further information regarding this can be found here.
The museum website is easy to navigate and admission prices are reasonable: £7.50 (£6.50 for concessions and students) for a ticket that lasts a year. Group bookings are also available and there are various price negotiations for children and families. Further information regarding prices can be found here.
If you have a love for history and creative literature, then I highly recommend making a visit to this museum.
Author Details: Emma Etna Devlin; Emma Etna Devlin is a historian and literary theorist currently based in Cumbria.