Celebrating Charlotte’s Birthday In The Bronte Birthplace

Yesterday was the 208th anniversary of a very special person indeed. They were the third of six children of a couple who had moved to Yorkshire from Ireland and Cornwall. A clergyman’s daughter who described herself as: “the weakest, puniest, least promising of his six children.” She was so shy that she once hid behind curtains all morning when an unexpected visitor arrived, and those who met her repeatedly commented on her small, frail appearance. Yet, she grew up to be fierce spirited, hugely intelligent, and with a creative mind that few could equal, she grew up to change the world of literature forever, she grew up to be Charlotte Brontë.

Charlotte Bronte

It was very fitting therefore that yesterday was the open day for the newly community-owned Brontë birthplace in Thornton. People had the first chance in five years to step into what was in 1816 Thornton Parsonage, to stand in the very room that had witnessed the birth of Charlotte Brontë exactly 208 years earlier. People were understandably excited, and before the door was officially opened a queue was already snaking down Thornton’s Market Street. Over 700 people attended the open day, as the organisers stopped counting at that point – the day had been successful beyond their dreams, and showed the love for the Brontës and their project.

With the open day completed the Brontë birthplace will now be closed until 2025 as renovation work is undertaken. I can’t wait to see the finished result, but the open day showed just what a magical building this is, as shown in the photographs throughout this post. The picture at the head of this post, by the way, is a postcard of the Brontë sisters outside Thornton Parsonage specially commissioned by the Brontë Birthplace.

The fireplace by which the Bronte sisters were born

Huge congratulations must go to all involved in this project, and its prime movers Christa Ackroyd and Steve Stanworth were at the open door talking, meeting and greeting. Another highlight was a fabulous actress playing Nancy de Garrs and displaying a fine way with accents, as well as bringing Nancy and the young Brontës to life! 

Christa Ackroyd with a young Bronte fan

It was also thrilling to see the scullery turned for the day into an educational activity centre for children. The youngsters seemed to love creating bonnets, Brontë inspired word wheels and more and this educational aspect will be a key feature of the reopened Brontë Birthplace – as well as giving people the incredible opportunity of staying in rooms once lived in by the Brontës!

Nancy de Garrs was brought brilliantly to life

It is clear that the Brontë Birthplace will be a very special place indeed, and a necessary place of pilgrimage for all Brontë fans. It’s also, of course, close to Haworth so people will be able to visit both parsonages in one day or weekend. I’m so happy at all that has been achieved, so well done to all who put in so much hard work, who bought shares and who did their bit to bring this campaign to fruition. Charlotte Brontë, on her birthday, would be very proud. Oh, and of course it was good to see Anne Brontë remembered too, both in the lovely mural across from the parsonage (the initials below the figures are AB, CB, C and H, and EB – I’m sure you can decipher the code) and on this lovely plate on display.

I got to experience the Bronte birthplace with the love of my life by my side, which made it even more special. I hope you all have a special week ahead of you, and I hope to see you on Sunday for another new Brontë blog post.

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