Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Guardian picks up the story of Ponden Hall being currently on the market.
A scratching on a window pane, the fingers of a small ice-cold hand, a melancholy voice begging to be let in. The appearance of Cathy’s ghost at the start of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is familiar to millions of readers and devotees of the 19th-century literary sisters. Now the house that is believed to have inspired the scene at the window is up for sale, although enthusiasts will need to find £1m for this piece of Brontë heritage.
The owners of Ponden Hall – a Grade II* listed property in Stanbury, near Haworth in West Yorkshire, and a thriving B&B – are retiring and downsizing more than 20 years after taking on the then-dilapidated house and carefully restoring it. The hall was owned by the Heaton family, who were trustees of Haworth parish church where Patrick Brontë, the sisters’ father, became vicar in 1820.
“He would have been in fairly regular contact with the Heatons, and the children would have grown up knowing the house,” said Ann Dinsdale of the Brontë Society. “Ponden Hall had a really fine library, and we know the Brontës were avid readers. It’s difficult to imagine they would have let the opportunity to borrow books slip by.”
During a cataclysmic mudslide caused by days of rain culminating in a heavy storm in 1824, three of Brontë children – Anne, Emily and their brother Branwell – and a servant sought shelter at Ponden Hall. Elements of the house interior are thought to have found their way into descriptions in Wuthering Heights, Emily’s only novel, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by her younger sister, Anne.
“It’s difficult to know how well they would have known the interior of the house, but in the popular imagination it stands for both Wuthering Heights and Wildfell Hall. There are quite obvious parallels between the Heaton family and the Earnshaws of Wuthering Heights. [Ponden Hall] is an incredibly atmospheric house, and if it wasn’t the model for Wuthering Heights, it should have been,” said Dinsdale. [...]
Julie Akhurst, Ponden Hall’s current owner, discovered ancient documents relating to the house, which describe a box-bed in a room across from the library. She and her husband, Steve Brown, had a replica made and installed.
“I started to research the history of the house, and gradually found out more and more,” Akhurst said. “It’s clear that Wuthering Heights wasn’t based solely on Ponden Hall – the location is wrong – but was a composite of different houses.”
The couple opened Ponden Hall, which dates from 1634, as a B&B six years ago. “We get a lot of Brontë enthusiasts from all over the world staying. Some are complete fanatics. Probably the best informed guest was a woman from Vietnam.”
The house has been used by the Brontë Society for meetings and workshops because the Brontë family parsonage, home to the Brontë museum, is comparatively small.
“This has been a wonderful family home for us, and then a business, but it’s time to move on,” said Akhurst. The couple are hoping to relocate to Sweden. “We feel we need a complete break. It would be hard to leave Ponden but live nearby, as it means so much to us.” (Harriet Sherwood)
A letter from a reader to The Times regarding its recent article on the £20,000 donation from the TS Eliot estate to the Brontë Parsonage Museum should make them blush a little at least:
Belittled women
Grant Tucker says that the Brontë sisters “toiled and gossiped” at their home (News, last week). Really? Does he mean “wrote novels”? No wonder the siblings used masculine pseudonyms.
Cathy Beck, Burton-in-Lonsdale, North Yorkshire

The Berkshire Edge features three novelists -  Thomas Hardy, Emily Brontë and D.H. Lawrence - who also wrote poetry.
Emily Brontë (1818-1848) wrote only one novel, but such a novel! The windswept masterpiece, “Wuthering Heights,” is considered one of the greatest in the English language. To which we add her poetry of unquestioned brilliance.
Emily was brought up and spent her life, save for some outside schooling, in a parsonage in Haworth, England, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. Her family included her brother, Branwell, and two sisters, Charlotte and Anne, both very talented (Charlotte wrote “Jane Eyre”). We will discuss the family in a future column, but for now, pride of place goes to Emily whose poetic genius was extraordinary. Here she is in pursuit of spiritual and intellectual liberty.
Riches I hold in light esteem
And Love I laugh to scorn
And lust of Fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn– [...]
Emily’s best-known poems are probably “Last Lines(No coward soul is mine) and “Remembrance” (Cold in the earth – and the deep snow piled above thee). But of equal importance is her salute “To Imagination,” in which Imagination partners with Liberty to prevail over Reason, Nature and Truth. Solitude also plays a role, and Emily said, “I’m happiest when most away.” [...]
Emily wrote more than 200 poems. At the age of thirty she died of tuberculosis, as had John Keats and as would our next poet, D. H. Lawrence. (William P. Perry)
Daily Geek Show (France) also features our Emily.

Express recommends a trip to Leeds and the list of nearby places worth a visit includes Haworth.
Head to Brontë country, taking a 25-minute train journey to Keighley then a 20-minute bus ride to the quaint village of Haworth on the edge of the Pennine Moors.Visit the house the sisters lived in from 1820 and where literary masterpieces Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights were written, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum. (Marjorie Yue)


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