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A new collection of photographs and artefacts reveals the secret life of Parsonage through the stories of all those who lived there.
‘Heaven is a Home’ tells the story of all those who lived at the Parsonage both before and after the Brontës, as well as giving fascinating domestic details of the Brontës’ own time at the house.
Built in 1778, the Parsonage was home to clergymen and their families both before and after the Reverend Patrick Brontë’s incumbency. From the Brontës’ time living in the house we have fascinating evidence in the form of letters, sketches and documents, detailing how the house was organised and decorated, what kind of lighting and heating they used and what housework they did.
In 1928 the building was bought by textiles magnate Sir James Roberts and donated to the Brontë Society, who ran it as the Brontë Parsonage Museum, filled with artefacts and documents relating to the famous literary family. Even then the Parsonage had a secret life, though, as Second-World-War soldiers were billeted next door in the Old Schoolroom, and generations of curators and their families lived on the premises right up until the 1970s.
The exhibition is linked with the Parsonage’s £60,000 historically accurate refurbishment, unveiled in February this year. Decorative historian Allyson McDermott used forensic analysis on tiny samples of paint and paper left from the time of the Brontës’ residence to recreate a decorative scheme closer to that of the Brontës than ever before.
It is also linked with publication of the book At Home with the Brontës: 'The History of Haworth Parsonage and Its Occupants', by Parsonage Collections Manager Ann Dinsdale, out March 23.
Brontë Society Executive Director, Professor Ann Sumner, said: ‘The history of the house is always fascinating, and this unique exhibition helps us understand so much more about the hidden life of the Parsonage whie the Brontës were here, but also gives us an understanding of its importantce to so many other families.’
The exhibition is free to all those paying a Museum entry fee, and is on display in the Bonnell Room until the end of the year.