Tuesday, 20 March 2012

The Brontë birthplace, Thornton


My usual start point in a place I haven't visited before is its history.  Thornton's main claim to fame is its Brontë family connection.  Four members of the literary family were born here at 72-74 Market Street.

In 1815 Reverend Patrick Brontë, father of the writers Charlotte, Emily and Anne, moved into this house (built in 1802 and at that time the parsonage) with his wife Maria and their older daughters Maria and Elizabeth.  In those days Thornton was little more than a hamlet; in 1800 it had only 23 dwellings (and three of those were pubs!)  The Brontës stayed for five years and then moved  to Haworth, and it is Haworth's parsonage that has the more famous association, as it is now a museum.

In the mid-1800s Thornton started to grow, as the local handloom weaving trade gave way to textile mills.  Stone quarrying and the mining of coal and fireclay were also important industries.  Growth demanded more local services.  The Thornton house was altered in 1898 when the front extension was built and it was then used as a butcher's shop.  It has also been a restaurant. The house was restored in the 1990s by the crime novelist Barbara Whitehead, and was opened to the public, but it is now a private residence.

For those of a curious mind, the Haworth Village website has pictures of the interior - see here.

This is the Thornton Challenge, Day Two - in which Alan Burnett and I agreed to explore the same village at different times and from our own perspective and then share what we each 'saw'.  For Alan's eye view, please go to his blog NEWS FROM NOWHERE.

13 comments:

  1. That would be so cool to live in such a famous family's house.

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  2. The experiment continues to enthral.

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  3. This place would be a real pilgrimage for me, as I'm very fond of all Brontë's writings!

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  4. Hi Jenny .. two different outlooks - yours historical and Alan's developmental and societal as life changed.

    Loved seeing the interior, while your comments on their brief life here. One son - amongst so many daughters .. and presumably the house sat alone at one stage before being incorporated into the street.

    Cheers .. Hilary

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  5. It's on my list of places to see. Thanks, Jenny.

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  6. I did get a shot of the cottage but mine wasn't anything special. Yours gives more of a feel of the house and the information you provide is almost like an invite to step inside and meet the family. Oh, I am enjoying this.

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  7. I enjoyed the literary connection even if it is a sad tale..and the interior tour was very nice:)

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  8. Jenny, I love the experiment that Alan and you are doing. I will enjoy comparing the two blogs this week.

    One difference so far is the text. You love to explain the history, and so far the history hasn't been the foremost thing for Alan.

    I think that this summer I might locate a blogger somewhere in New England and try a similar experiment.

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  9. How wonderful that you and Alan are exploring the same village. What a great idea. For those of us who don't know the village, the perspectives do seem very differnt.

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  10. What a fine idea for a photography experiment, and the "view through someone elses eyes" as a conscious theme for the project is excellent.
    Living as I do but a couple of hundred yards from the "Bronte' House" in Thornton I was dissapointed to miss a real photo oppertunity the other day as I was walking by so did three young ladies emerge laughing and giggling and dressed to the nines in modern, (skimpy) dresses . . . the plaque was clearly visible and i thought what a marvelous image it would have made . ."the Bronte sisters in the 21st century"
    As my father used to say, " Eeee, I don't know, the things you see when you hav'nt got a camara with you . . . . .

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  11. I had no idea that the Bronte sisters came from anywhere prior to Haworth. It is a very imposing building.

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  12. I just love the history those old buildings hold there. ~Lili

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