Architecture Historic photography Listed places

7 Buildings That Tell the Story of the Brontë Sisters

From the buildings that inspired Charlotte’s first novel Jane Eye to the house where the Brontë sisters grew up, here we look at seven buildings connected to the famous literary siblings.

These buildings were already on The List and but their entries were updated in 2016 (the 200th anniversary of Charlotte’s birth) to reflect their associations with Charlotte and her family.

1. Haworth Parsonage, Haworth, West Yorkshire, listed Grade I

Haworth Parsonage, Haworth, West Yorkshire, listed Grade I. Home to Patrick Brontë and his three literary daughters Charlotte, Emily and Anne from 1820 onwards. The sisters’ most famous novels were written here, including Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey, all in 1847. Charlotte died in the Parsonage on 31 March 1855. (c) Historic England
Haworth Parsonage, Haworth (c) Historic England

The Grade I listed Haworth Parsonage was home to Patrick Brontë and his three literary daughters Charlotte, Emily and Anne from 1820 onwards. It was in this house that, as children and young adults, the Brontë sisters, with their brother Branwell wrote stories and poetry.

The sisters’ most famous novels were written here, including Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, Emily’s Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey, all in 1847. Charlotte died in the Parsonage on 31 March 1855

2. North Lees Hall, Derbyshire, listed Grade II*

North Lees Hall, Derbyshire, listed Grade II*. In 1845 Charlotte visited the ancestral home of the Eyre family, who inspired the name of Charlotte’s first heroine. Here she learned of a mad woman who had once been kept in an upstairs room, giving her the inspiration for Mr Rochester’s Thornfield Hall in her first and most famous novel Jane Eyre. (c) Dave Bevis via Wikimedia Commons
North Lees Hall, Derbyshire (c) Dave Bevis via Wikimedia Commons

In 1845 Charlotte visited the ancestral home of the Eyre family, who inspired the name of Charlotte’s first heroine. Here she learned of a mad woman who had once been kept in an upstairs room, giving her the inspiration for Mr Rochester’s Thornfield Hall in her first and most famous novel Jane Eyre.

3. The Vicarage, Hathersage, Derbyshire, listed Grade II

The Vicarage, Hathersage, listed at Grade II. Charlotte stayed here throughout the summer of 1845 visiting a school friend. During her stay she met the Eyre family and visited their ancestral home, North Lees Hall (c) Neil Theasby via Geograph
The Vicarage, Hathersage (c) Neil Theasby via Geograph

During this visit to Derbyshire in the summer of 1845 she stayed with an old school friend at the Grade II listed Vicarage in the village of Hathersage which was immortalised in her novel as Morton.

4. Stone Gappe, Lothersdale, North Yorkshire, listed Grade II*

Stone Gappe
Stone Gappe, Lothersdale from In The Footsteps of the Brontës by Mark Davis and Ann Dinsdale

Stone Gappe is thought to be the inspiration for Gateshead Hall, the unhappy childhood home of Jane Eyre. Charlotte moved to Stone Gappe in 1839 to be the governess to the Sidgwick family’s children. But she hated the position and after just a few weeks returned home to Haworth.

5. Gawthorpe Hall, Ightenhill, Lancashire, listed Grade I

Gawthorpe Hall, Ightenhill, Lancashire, listed Grade I. It is thought that Charlotte caught a chill whilst walking in the grounds of here which led to her death in 1855. (c) John6536 via Flickr
Gawthorpe Hall, Ightenhill, (c) John6536 via Flickr

Built in the early 17th Century, this Grade I listed country house was owned by Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth in the 1850s. He befriended Charlotte and introduced her to Elizabeth Gaskell, her fellow novelist and future biographer. It is thought that Charlotte caught a chill whilst walking in the grounds of Gawthorpe which led to her death in 1855.

Archive image of Gawthorpe Hall (c) Historic England Archive
Archive image of Gawthorpe Hall (c) Historic England Archive

6. Numbers 72 and 74 Market Street, Thornton, listed Grade II*

Numbers 72 and 74 Market Street, Bradford. (c) Paul Glazzard via Geograph

This was the birthplace of Maria and Patrick Brontë’s four youngest children, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. It was home to the Brontë family from 1815 when Patrick was curate at the church of St James in Thornton, until 1820 when the family moved to Haworth.

7. Ruins of the Chapel of St James, Old Bell Chapel, Thornton, listed Grade II

Ruins of Chapel of St James, Old Bell Chapel, Bradford, listed Grade II. The Rev Patrick Brontë was curate of the chapel from 1815 to 1820 when the family moved to Haworth. (c) Tim Green via Flickr
Ruins of Chapel of St James, Old Bell Chapel, Bradford (c) Tim Green via Flickr

The ruined chapel of St James, also known as the Old Bell Chapel, is traditionally dated to 1612 because it includes a stone inscribed with this date but it also includes stones dated to 1587 and 1756.

The Rev Patrick Brontë was curate of the chapel from 1815 to 1820 when the family moved to Haworth. Brontë oversaw the partial rebuilding of the chapel in 1818, including the addition of the bell turret. And it was here that his three literary daughters were baptised.

Further Reading

 

12 comments on “7 Buildings That Tell the Story of the Brontë Sisters

  1. artandarchitecturemainly

    I have never heard of re-listing Heritage Buildings, to better reflect their importance for the Bronte family. Great idea!

    I knew of many of the important homes you have photographed but I had never heard of the Market St Bradford home. While this home would have been important to Maria and Patrick Brontë, the four children who were born there probably remembered nothing whatsoever of the years 1815-1820. Nonetheless, I would love to have a good look around in there.

    • franzitzka

      The two buildings in Bradford- the Bronte birthplace and the Bell Chapel are actually in Thornton, a village some seven miles west of the city. I lived in Thornton as a child and it has a very seperate identity of its own. In the Bronte’s day it would have been very remote.

      The birthplace is now a lovely little restaurant and open to the public, as is the Bell Chapel, and both are well worth a visit. I went back to Thornton last year and visited the Bronte exhibition in St James’s church- I believe it’s still open at weekends.

      I think the heading ‘Market Street, Bradford’ is a little misleading here, without the inclusion of Thornton.

  2. Giles Proctor

    It should be pointed out that the birthplace and the ruined church are in Thornton, a distinct village to the west of Bradford.

  3. I love the cultural heritage that exist in some of our oldest buildings today in the UK. Conservation is a must since cultural heritage provides us all with a sense of belonging and pride, being hugely important in our society and national identity.

  4. Reblogged this on Island Shakespeare Festival (Aside) and commented:
    A lovely look at the historic buildings that held the inspiration for Jane Eyre, from the Heritage Calling blog.

  5. Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

  6. george kear

    Charlotte did not die of a ‘chill’ she died of pregnancy complications.

  7. Sandra Blackshaw

    It saddens me to see Thornbush Farm (Lousy Bush farm as it was previously known) in Hightown/Hartshead. It has been vandalised to the point where it is now just a ruin. Slates have been stripped from the roof and timbers are made in to bonfires. It seems, in my opinion, that the owner is facilitating this gradual demolition to enable housing development. The building was given grade II listed status because Patrick Bronte lodged there when he was engaged to Maria Branwell and he preached at Hartshead Church. After their marriage, they moved nearby, to a house at the top of Clough Lane in Hightown, Liversedge and they started their family there. It seems tragic that the true beginning of the Bronte family will soon be no more

  8. Helen Edmondson

    An interesting article. I would like to add Wycoller Hall near Colne, Lancashire to your list. The hall, now in ruins, is believed to be the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in Jane Eyre.

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