Of course the Daily Mail was ready to jump at the news of a CCTV camera attached to the only cypress pine tree left at the Brontë Parsonage Museum garden and said to have been planted by Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Bell Nicholls.
It's hardly a surprise that there are CCTV cameras trained on the home of the Bronte sisters – now a museum and national treasure where some of the greatest English novels were written.Seriously, it may not seem like a great decision, but then again we don't know what moved them to place it right there in the first place. Surely the Daily Mail et al would be far more alarmed if gravestones started disappearing from the churchyard as has happened in other Yorkshire graveyards (or whatever the point of that CCTV camera is). Or wouldn't they?
But the decision to nail a camera – complete with an electrical box and cables – to a tree said to have been planted by Charlotte nearly 200 years ago has sparked outrage among literary enthusiasts.
They now plan to complain to English Heritage about the ‘eyesore’ which they say ruins the iconic view of the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
Local resident Justin Ponter, 42, moved to the town to learn more about the Bronte family. He said: ‘I’ve spent a lot of time at the parsonage, so I quickly spotted this camera which had just been stuck on to a tree that’s 160 years old.
‘It’s ridiculous. They’ve nail-clipped a cable up the back of the tree which has gone into a big grey box and they’ve then lashed jubilee clips around the tree trunk.
'I think they hoped no-one would notice it, but they’ve placed this monstrosity right in the middle of their most iconic view.
‘The tree is one of the last remaining things of the Brontes’ and they’ve treated it like a botched job on a telegraph pole.’
It is believed Charlotte, who wrote her 1847 novel Jane Eyre at the parsonage, planted two cypress-pines with her husband Arthur Bell Nicholls in 1854 to commemorate their wedding.
She died the following year. One was felled in 2008 due to disease, but the remaining tree is a vital link with the past.
A spokesman for the Bronte Society, which runs the museum, said: ‘We take seriously any concerns made to us about such matters. We will be carrying out our own investigations.’ [...]
An English Heritage spokesman said: ‘We were recently asked to comment on listed building consent for a number of alterations to the Bronte Parsonage, including the addition of CCTV.
‘We advised that it should be fixed to mortar joints, to minimise damage to the masonry. The application did not cover CCTV units in any other location. In many cases the installation of CCTV can take place without planning consent.’
The news has also reached Perth Now (!).
Anyway, onto better news for the area. The Telegraph and Argus reports:
Councillors agreed to give £50 to the group in charge of efforts to restore an historic Haworth building.The Guardian interviews writer Siri Hustvedt:
Members of Haworth, Cross Roads and Stanbury Parish Council approved a recommendation to award the cash to Bronte Spirit, which has been campaigning to renovate the Old School Room in Church Street.
Money will be used to plant and decorate flower tubs outside the building on a Tour de France theme.
When did you first know you were a writer?The fantasy arrived when I was 13. I was in Reykjavik for a summer and it never got dark. There was a whole library of English books and I was a great reader. I suddenly had access to books that were too hard for me before. Lots of Dickens. Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights. Jane Austen. I couldn't stop. I read the abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. I read some Mark Twain. While reading David Copperfield in the middle of the night – probably because of the light I had insomnia for the first time – I looked out of the window and thought, "If this is what books can do, this is what I want to do." I published my first poem in The Paris Review in 1980. (Viv Groskop)Lit Addicted Brit posts about Villette. Laodicea writes about Wuthering Heights. Random Things Through My Letterbox reviews Red Room: New Short Stories Inspired by the Brontës, edited by A.J. Ashworth.