Monday, May 25, 2015

Another Wild Ride. . .and Walk: Visiting Brontë Country!

God worked some miracles today and gave us good connections for our journey. The day began gray and damp. . .perfect for a visit to the place where it all began for the three literary ladies.

During the night, I began experiencing vertigo. . .i was literally spinning in my bed. Talk about a wild ride! Getting up didn't help, either. I was like a sailor on a storm tossed sea. I figured I might be dehydrated (all that British tea), so I drank two glasses. I was uncharacteristically calm, and trusted God to work all things together for good. And He did. By the time I needed to drive the hour to Haworth/Keighley, it had subsided. Since it was a Sunday, and to ease my head ache, we sang every hymn we could think of!

We arrived at Keighley, where we were to take a city bus to Haworth. Amazing how we found the place.  We got turned around at one point, but made it to the station in plenty of time. But, where do we park? Another miracle. A young Muslim security guard actually walked us over to the lot nearby!
I thought this was a guided scenic tour to Haworth, but no. When the driver understood that, he began to point out the history of Keighley, which was a Woolen Mill town. Notice the engraving at the top of this building:

We were thrilled to see this, since one of our other favorite movies/novels is 'North and South' by Elizabeth Gaskell, who was a friend of the Brontë's and wrote Charlotte's bio!

We arrived in Haworth, noting the dark stained brick (from the soot?) characteristic of this area. The town had been celebrating V-Day last weekend, so there were British flags everywhere. Here is the Black Bull, a Pub where Bramwell Brontë, brother of the famous Brontë sisters, frequented, and which finally caused his demise. Although he was a talented artist, he himself admitted he wasted his life. So sad!

Olivia and I had a lovely roast dinner (popular on Sundays in England) there:

We visited the Brontë museum, which was the parsonage across from the church where Patrick Brontë, the father, was curate. It was here where Charlotte (Jane Eyre), Emily (Wuthering Heights), and Anne (Tenant of Wildfell Hall), lived and wrote their memorable novels. After losing a wife and two daughters to illness, Patrick decided to cloister his remaining children at home, and taught them there. 

Theirs was a life rich in literature and education, although they rarely traveled when young. Out of that life came incredibly insightful novels full of depth and character. They all reflected the darkness of the times, but Jane Eyre is the one that ends in joy. The three author sisters were very close, and began writing at an early age, due to their rich historic and literary environment. Charlotte, Anne and Emily would read their own works in progress to each other as they would 'take a turn' (walk repeatedly around) the dining room table. This offered them an opportunity to critique the latest installment in their novel. Charlotte was at a loss in so many ways when her two younger sisters died.

Here is the beautiful garden outside their home . . .

And the cemetery where the townsfolk were buried . . .so many that it caused an epidemic which killed numbers.

A touching quote: 

"Though I have had much bitter sorrow in consequence of the sickness and death of my dear wife, yet I have ample cause to praise God for his numberless mercies. I have a small but sweet little family that often soothe my heart. . . "- Patrick Brontë who went on to outlive his five daughters and son.

It was most frustrating for me not to be allowed to take photos in the parsonage, so here are two from the guide book. The first one of Charlotte is just the way I imagine Jane Eyre to be. She regarded herself as small and plain, mirroring her description of her heroine, Jane.

The second is a photo of their dining room table where the girls wrote most of their novels. They were also accomplished at poetry, and drawing, with Emily being the most gifted in that area.

Before we took the bus back to Keighley, Olivia and I took a four mile walk (round trip) to the Brontë Falls, where the sisters often loved to go. The moors where windswept, and the heavy breezes didn't let up a bit. We tried to imagine what it would have been like in cold, damp winter! Certainly taxing on the body, if not the soul.

Some gorgeous scenery along the way . . .

Heather which will turn purple in the fall. . . 

Quite the rocky path, which made it extra tiring . . .

Here is Olivia's version of Jane Eyre in despair, after discovering Mr. Rochester's dark secret . . .

And here is my version of Jane Eyre lost in the Moors after she flees from Thornfield Hall. . .

We finally arrive at the diminutive falls and take some photos. . . and now it's time to head back.

But not before I take yet another photo of Olivia on the 'rock seat' where the sisters would sit and meditate. Okay, now we are on our way . . .

We had little control of the time, so, we were a bit worried (okay, I was a bit worried), that the busses would not be running on a Sunday evening. I was not to worry. . .an angel guided us to the nearest stop, and who should pick us up, but the same driver who narrated on the way to Haworth. By now, he seemed like an old friend.

When we arrived at the bus station, I realized the garage had closed early, so our car was stuck in the lot. I notified the very helpful security (same office where the gentleman helped me to find the lot.) They invited us into the office, offered us some tea (declined) and they set about finding the car park security man to open the entrance for us. All was done in record time, and we headed for our two hour trip to Bakewell.

Bagshaw Hall, our lodging, ended up at the very top of a hill with extremely narrow streets, but we managed (another miracle) to find our way and locate the host, since we came in after hours. All went well, and Olivia and I made haste to get a good night's rest.

On next to the historic homes which served as settings for "Jane Eyre" and "Pride and Prejudice."

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